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A Once in a Generation Man: Talk of the Town’s Tribute to Dean Hoyle

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With the imminent departure of Town Chairman, Owner and most importantly, fan, Dean Hoyle, we at Talk of The Town thought it only right to add to the glowing plethora of tributes which have poured down on the man in the last couple of weeks.

Since his takeover from Ken Davy in 2008, Hoyle has presided over an absolute rollercoaster of a journey for all Town fans and it’s fair to say we have all experienced every emotion under the sun during his 10-year tenure.

When Hoyle took over, apathy and dejection had well and truly sunk in at the club. Falling attendances, abject performances, and a turgid playing style had seen the fan-base start to become resigned to a life of League One perpetuity, with the malaise that had set in turning into a state of football purgatory.

Hoyle wanted to change all of that. From the outset, he tried to reinvigorate the club with a young and (at the time) forward thinking manager in Lee Clark, supported him in the transfer market in a way very few other chairman if any could have done at the time in League One and kick-started a charitable programme, which included the first ‘Pedal for Pounds’ and even put the Yorkshire Air Ambulance as one of our shirt sponsors in the years that followed.

Play-Off heartbreak by Millwall was swiftly followed by play-off ecstasy before heartbreak again to a team that would become one of our most notorious bogey teams, Peterborough at Old Trafford in the final of the 2010/11 season.

Finally, in 2011/2012, after Lee Clark was dismissed after he abandoned his swashbuckling style and transfer strategy of buying young and hungry 19 to 24-year-olds and replacing them with fading and disinterested senior pros, Hoyle installed Simon Grayson who steered us to the Championship via the playoffs (this is a recurring theme) on penalties thanks to Steve Simonsen’s penalty which is still travelling over Harlesden as we speak.

After five years of scrapping, fighting and barely surviving in the Championship under Grayson, then Mark Robins and Chris Powell, the malaise which had gripped the club in 2008 was beginning to set in again.

Murmurs of disquiet were voiced over the categorisation for certain games which left some fans more out of pocket than others if they wanted to see every game and, despite Chris Powell’s affable character and someone who clearly cared about doing well for the club, his negative tactics and at times, defeatist attitude had worn off on the fans and eventually Hoyle, who sacked him and contemplated, it seems, one last throw of the dice.

In stepped a bright-eyed, bushy-bearded, bespectacled, unknown Head Coach called David Wagner who revitalised the club and made so many fans fall back in love with the club AND made a whole new generation of Town fans to sustain the fan-base for years to come.

Promotion to the Premier League followed the following season and the famous D-Ream record began to spring to mind ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ or as it turned out, this was as good as we were going to get it.

The season of misery that we thought we’d have in our first season in the Premier League didn’t materialise, it was just postponed until the following season but despite pancreatitis, that didn’t stop Hoyle from trying to keep Town afloat.

However, clearly, the loss of David Wagner hurt Dean as well as his frustration in not being a physical presence at the club during this difficult season.

Across all these tumultuous ten years, on and off the pitch, Hoyle’s legacy will live on through the work of the Town Foundation, the ‘Pedal for Pounds’ which is now in its 10th year, the outreach work that has been done to unite a divided community, both politically and socially in Kirklees through the appointments of people like Educating Yorkshire star and Head-Teacher Matthew Burton and Mohammed Bhana and the multi-million pound training complex on the way at Canalside.

The biggest legacy we think Dean Hoyle leaves is that we as fans have the capacity to dream again. To believe that one year in the future, if we get it right, we can have just as magical a season as we did in 2016/17 when Chris Schindler scored that penalty in May and it was a f***ing dream.

Dean Hoyle did that, all whilst standing right there with us as fans, breathing it, living it, kicking every ball and making sure he held himself accountable to us for his decisions and letting us know he was on our side.

Deano may have owned the cards but we’re pretty sure he held the key to all of our hearts in what he delivered for us, the town and the community.

Thank you Deano for everything you did for our club. If Phil Hodgkinson is half the man you are, we know we will be in good hands and we trust you made the right decision for your family and for the club.

There’s only one Dean Hoyle.