After my wild night out in Manchester, I woke up to endless rain and a phone call from my brother. My grandfather had died about the time I’d flown out to England five days before. It was not unexpected, because he was 93, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take. The cold and wet weather outside my window reflected my personal turmoil, as I tried to deal with losing a family member while, literally, the furthest from home I’d ever been.
With the day off to a bad start, I decided to make things even worse by heading out to a town that no visitor to England has ever visited – Huddersfield. Situated halfway between Manchester and Leeds, Huddersfield is a dreary place with ugly people and drab buildings and very little that anyone would ever want to actually see.
Well, that’s not quite true. There’s a reason why I headed to this dirty little town in the north of England – back in August of 1895, representatives of 22 northern rugby clubs met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, to form the breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union. The renegade competition sought to create a semi-professional environment where rugby players could be paid if they were forced to miss work due to injuries, but the movement ended up being far more important that that. For on that cold night in Huddersfield 20 decades ago, the great game of rugby league was born.
Growing up in Australia, I’d wake up early to watch English rugby league matches, and because of that I was convinced that the biggest cities in that country were London, Wigan and St Helens. So, naturally, no trip to England would be complete without a trip to the birthplace of the Greatest Game of All.
The train ride out took me through rolling green hills, but the weather was miserable and couldn’t see a thing. When I made it to H-town, tired and emotional and hungover, the George Hotel was closed for renovations. With the rain tumbling down and the list of interesting site in the ‘field rather limited, I headed off to check out The John Smith’s Stadium, where the Huddersfield Giants play. The journey took me through dilapidated buildings and some of the grimiest, uninspiring streets you could ever have the misfortune to see. The stadium was in a creepy industrial district and I wasn’t able to get too close to it, and while scoping out the area some tough-looking children started calling me a paedophile, so I headed back to the station.
The town is weirdly quiet, and most of the people I saw were either thuggish kids, crackheads, or Eastern European peasants. I looked around to find some food, but nowhere was open, and I ended up buying some weird imitation Twisties from a Polish shop. They reluctantly served me and I swaggered back to the train station never to step foot in Huddersfield again.
If given the option to either spend time in Huddersfield, or have a gold ball roughly inserted into your wee-hold by a man dressed as a penguin, go for option B. It’s an ugly, boring, dreary town with a shit footy team and ugly residents, where dreams go to die and the sun comes as regularly as a pensioner who had his imitation Viagra tablets confiscated by customs after his trip to Thailand.