Points are biggest prize for Powell on return to The Valley

Huddersfield Town manager Chris Powell.
Huddersfield Town manager Chris Powell.
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IN the third minute of Huddersfield’s clash with Charlton on Saturday, an unusual tribute by the locals is planned.

Supporters plan to hold a minute’s applause in recognition of the deeds done by a former player and manager who had four separate spells at The Valley.

Nothing unusual in that, you might say. But the person in question will, at that very moment, be trying to take three points off Charlton as the manager of the visitors.

That Chris Powell, who sported the number ‘3’ for much of his time with the Addicks, should be held in such affection that a bumper crowd – ticket prices have been slashed to £5 – plan to hold such a tribute is perhaps not a surprise.

Even if the man himself, on being informed by The Yorkshire Post about the plan that has been circulating on internet fan messageboards for several weeks, insists the news came as something of a shock to him.

“I didn’t know that, no,” admitted Powell. “If they do that... well, I would be amazed if they did. For an opposition manager…”

After trailing off for a second, Powell then moved to add: “I will be a little bit embarrassed, if I am honest. I always had a good relationship with the fans. But they have moved on, as they have to. I am always proud of what I did there as a manager.”

Powell’s first stint at The Valley started in 1998 and lasted six years. It went on to feature 200 league appearances and, at the age of 31, an England call-up.

A move across the capital to West Ham United followed but he was back at Charlton within a year. Another 27 league appearances were earned before a call to join Watford, newly-promoted to the Premier League, lured Powell away. Again, however, he only lasted a year away from his beloved Charlton before returning once again, this time primarily as a coach.

Appointed manager in 2011 as the successor to Phil Parkinson, Powell then brought all the qualities that had made him such a popular player in south London to the dugout and his first season brought the League One title to The Valley.

Charlton then finished ninth on their return to the Championship but last year a takeover by Roland Duchatelet led, eventually, to Powell’s dismissal.

Fast forward five or so months and the 45-year-old had been installed at Huddersfield and it is his new club who the affable Londoner is hoping to lead to all three points this weekend.

“I haven’t been back since last year,” he said. “I kept away. I felt that was only right last season. And this season, I got the job here after a month. There was always going to be a right time to go back and Saturday will be it. A great club for me but, obviously, there have been a lot of changes.

“A lot has gone on and four managers have been there in a year. I have moved on and rightly so. Obviously, it is a special club to me but I am in charge of a special club now as well.”

Asked if he will feel emotional on Saturday, Powell said: “Yes and no. Charlton will always be Charlton, with the fans and all I did down there.

“I had four separate spells at the club so it will be quite poignant for me. but, on the back of four points from two home games and two clean sheets, I just want to get the three points.

“I hope there is no sideshow. It will be some game anyway, with tickets being £5. I want the players to really focus on how we will play our game. I will say a few ‘hellos’ but, hopefully, with a smile on my face after we have taken points from the game.”

Meanwhile, Alex Smithies has signed a new contract extension to keep the goalkeeper at the club until at least 2018.

The Academy graduate, again in outstanding form as Town beat Reading on Tuesday night, had been contracted to the club until the end of next season.

Powell said: “Goalkeepers get better with age and experience and we are seeing that with Alex.”

Huddersfield also have the option for another 12 months to keep Smithies at the club until 2019.