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lifelong town fan: Keith Longbottom (centre) is pictured with Eoin Hand (left) and Peter Withe (right)

KEITH LONGBOTTOM, who was Huddersfield Town chairman for more than 16 years in two separate spells, has died aged 72 after a battle with cancer.

The former accountant, who had moved to Devon after retiring, was responsible for appointing Mick Buxton as manager.

He was at the helm for two promotion campaigns - from the original Division IV in 1980 and from Division III three years later.

Mr Longbottom was born and bred in Netherton. He was a lifelong Town fan and joined the board in 1974. He took over as chairman in May, 1975, when Town were at one of their lowest-ever ebbs, having just been relegated to the Football League's basement division for the first time.

The fact that they had been in the top flight as recently as 1972 made their plight all the more poignant.

It took Town five years to escape the Fourth.

But they did it in style, claiming the championship and scoring 101 league goals in the process.

The club weren't the biggest of spenders, but in December, 1979, Mr Longbottom did provide pounds 50,000 for Buxton to bring in striker Steve Kindon from Burnley. The signing proving to be a masterstroke.

Terry Austin, who arrived from Mansfield 12 months later, wasn't anywhere near as effective as Kindon, but the fact that Mr Longbottom was willing to break the club's transfer record by paying pounds 120,000 showed his determination for a return to the league's higher echelons.

That was achieved in 1983 when Buxton, who had been promoted from coach to manager by Mr Longbottom in October, 1978, led Town back into the original Division II (now the Championship).

For three seasons Town held their own, but inconsistent form during the first half of the 1986-87 campaign led to the Christmas sacking of Buxton, who was replaced by former player Steve Smith.

In June, 1987, Mr Longbottom stood down as chairman, but remained on a board now headed by Roger Fielding.

Mr Fielding's reign, which brought the sacking of Smith and appointment of former Newcastle and England striker Malcolm Macdonald, lasted just nine months.

When Mr Longbottom returned as chairman Town were hurtling towards relegation.

They were members of Division III (the level they currently play at) for all his second spell as chairman.

That included another club record buy, of striker Iwan Roberts for pounds 275,000 from Watford.

His chairmanship lasted until Graham Leslie's appointment in December, 1992.

Mr Longbottom leaves a wife, Susan, children Jane, Sally and Marcus and 10 grandchildren.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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