Huddersfield have been one of the most successful of all rugby league clubs, but in more recent times they have seen to the bottom of professional rugby league before struggling through their intial Super League existance. However, over the last couple of years the Giants have recovered and are now a mid-table Super League side with serious ambitions.
The Huddersfield Athletic Club was founded in 1864. And the club established a football team two years later. Initially the football club was kept at arms length from the atheltics, but after a time the football was the most popular sport at Huddersfield. The club initiated a merger with St John’s Cricket Club to form Huddersfield Cricket and Athletics Club and took up residency at Fartown. The rugby team players their first fixture at Fartown on November 2nd 1978 against Manchester Rangers.
Huddersfield became founder members of the Northern Union in 1895. The meeting which brought about rugby’s great split took place at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, mainly because it was a central location for the dissatisfied northern clubs. It wasn’t long before Huddersfield became one of the most successful teams. The club was known for its “team of all the talents”, including such rugby league greats as Harold Wagstaff and Albert Rosenfield. Five trophies were won before the outbreak of the First World War, and in 1914/15 Huddersfield became only the second club to win “all four cups”.
This success continued during the interwar years and for several years after the Second World War. However, by the 1970s Huddersfield had entered into a serious decline with poor playing performances, falling attendances and Fartown in much need of repair. In a bizzare foreshadowing of the Super League era, an attempt to revitalise Huddersfield was made in 1984: the club was renamed Huddersfield Barraccudas, and Fartown renamed Arena 84. These innovations were not popular and were dropped in 1989, kick starting the process that saw Huddersfield get back on its feet.
In 1992 Huddersfield became the first ever third division champions and were promoted. This succes, however, came with a price, and the club could no longer maintain Fartown. Instead, Huddersfield moved into Huddersfield Town AFC’s Leeds Road ground. In 1993 Huddersfield beat XIII Catalan in a one-off game in Barcelona to become European Club Champions. But what really got the club back up and running was when they moved into the brand new McAlpine Stadium along with Huddersfield Town.
For the beginning of the Super League era the club changed its name to Huddersfield Giants. The Giants won the divisional championship by beating Hull 18-0 at Old Trafford, and the following year replaced the defunct Paris Saint Germain in Super League itself. However, the club struggled throughout its time in the top flight. An ill-fated merger was carried out with Sheffield Eagles to create the Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants, a strange alliance which lasted only a season before the club was renamed Huddersfield Giants and a new Sheffield Eagles founded.
The Giants remained very much in decline, finishing bottom of Super League x years in a row. When Widnes Vikings won the Northern Ford Premiership and were judged good enough to join the top flight Huddersfield were finally relegated. However, Huddersfield were promoted after just one season, becoming the last ever NFP champions in the process. Since their promotion Huddersfield have grown. They reached the Challenge Cup final in 2006 and have established themselves as a mid-table Super League club.