On Thursday 6th April HNC hosted a staff vs students football match in honour of ex-coach Paul Futcher who sadly passed away in November 2016.
Paul joined the staff at Huddersfield New College in August 2001 and was a huge influence in the newly formed HNC Football Academy. Paul came to the college, after a long and successful career as a professional footballer, wearing the colours of Luton Town, Grimsby Town, Barnsley and Manchester City amongst others. Paul holds the record for the oldest player to lead out a team at a Wembley final and was the most expensive defender in English football at one time when signed by Manchester City in 1978!
The match was played on HNC’s 3G pitch with staff playing against the HNC Football Academy. The staff team had special guests including a number of ex-students who had played under Paul whilst studying at the college and Paul’s son, Ben Futcher, who is an ex-professional footballer.
The game had a great turnout with over 100 students and staff watching from pitch side. They were not disappointed as the match had some great moments of quality. The highlight of the match, however, was Pete Lombard, Cricket Academy coach being hauled off the pitch after only 5 minutes of play with team manager Gabriel Mellor heard saying he had “seen enough”! A dubious penalty decision against the staff in the early stages allowed the youngsters to take an early lead, with grumbles from the touchline that the referee held a bias towards the students.
In the final minutes, everyone wanted to be part of the occasion with both teams fielding around 16 players each! Unfortunately the staff could not get the win, with the talented Academy players having the edge, but Paul would have been proud of the commitment from both sides. The score line finished 3 – 2……..well that’s how it’s being recorded in the official record books!
Aaron Murray, who played under Paul from 2004-2007, commented “I am happy to play in Paul’s memorial match as he was the best coach I have worked under. He would always push us for more and even though he could be blunt with what he said, I now realise that he was only doing it to better us all. That’s just how Paul was, I will always remember him with great fondness.”
Nick Jaggar was also under Paul’s guidance as a key member of the team from 2001 - 2003. Nick added “It’s an honour to be invited to play in this match. Futch was a great guy and really knew his stuff! We had some great laughs playing at New College with Futch as coach and gained memories that will last forever.”
The match was broadcast live on Facebook and is still available to watch on the videos section of the Huddersfield New College Facebook page.
We would like to thank all the staff, students, guests and everyone who turned up to the game in memory of Paul. It was a brilliant afternoon and played in the right spirit. Gabriel Mellor, who worked with Paul for 15 years, summed it up best after the match “Paul Futcher was a legend and always will be.”