JACK HUNT admits he already had a serious soft spot for Barnsley before signing on for their Great Escape Mark II mission.
The former Huddersfield Town right-back, who has joined from Crystal Palace for the rest of the season on loan, is pitted in an intensive relegation battle for the second year running, with both Town and the Reds coming out smiling on that score last season.
A ‘Survival Saturday’ game between the pair which will live long in the memory for anyone who attended that 2-2 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium on May 4 saw both stay up amid stirring cries from both sets of jubilant supporters at the end of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire.’
Hunt will certainly never forget it and is hoping for more joy on that score with Barnsley come season’s end.
It also promises to be a big time on the personal front for Hunt with his partner expecting and both are desperate for their new-born to be born in the Broad Acres.
Hunt, 23, said: “To see both sides stay up at the end of the season and both sets of fans celebrating together was what football is all about.
“When we came off after the final whistle and then went back out to clap our fans for their part in the season, the standing ovation from everything single Barnsley fan was brilliant. Not many fans would do that and I had a lot of respect for them after that and a bit of a soft spot for them.
“Crystal Palace wanted me to only come for a month, but I wanted to come to the end of the season. A big part of that is that I am from Leeds and wanted to get up north as we are expecting our first child in April and with my girlfriend from Leeds as well, it’s the best of both worlds for me to come as I get some games and have my first child up north.”
Out since September with a broken ankle, Hunt is desperate to make up for lost time at Oakwell, having not yet made a first-team appearance for Palace.
His debut arrives at a place he knows well, Hillsborough, a ground he has good memories of thanks to two wins in his days with Town, along with an incredible 4-4 draw in December, 2011, when Jordan Rhodes struck all four goals for the visitors.
Hunt, who is looking forward to lining up against Owls new-boy Benik Afobe, whom he played with at Town and feels can play for England one day, added: “I am naturally a fit lad and, hopefully, that and the adrenalin as well will get me through in a big derby game.
“Some people say Hillsborough is a bit of a scary place to go to, but I love it, to be honest. I remember the 4-4 draw and winning 3-1 there when I won two penalties. It was a nice feeling beating them because they were down there as well at the time and it was a big result for Huddersfield.”