All Our Draws and Welcoming Simon Grayson

Simon GraysonHere are all the draws Huddersfield Town have had this season and who I reckon was probably more pleased with the result afterwards. Bear in mind I didn’t see any of these games with my own eyes (I live in Leamington, can’t afford a season ticket or train fares and don’t own a car), so I am relying on stats and match reports, which means this is all bullshit.

  1. Bury (H) 1-1 Conceded very soon after taking the lead – THEM.
  2. Rochdale (A) 2-2 Conceded last minute equaliser – THEM.
  3. Hartlepool (A) 0-0 Jordan Rhodes was on the bench until the 54th minute – THEM.
  4. Cardiff (A) 5-3 Conceded last minute equaliser, collapsed in extra-time – THEM.
  5. Oldham (A) 1-1 Conceded early, equalised soon after. Played last 15 minutes against 10 men – THEM.
  6. MK Dons (A) 1-1 Conceded midway through second half after leading. Played last 5 minutes against 10 men – THEM.
  7. Leyton Orient (H) 2-2 Had player sent off then immediately conceded two goals in last five minutes – THEM.
  8. Bradford (H) 2-2 Had to fight back *twice* against *Bradford* then lost on penalties – THEM.
  9. Scunthorpe (A) 2-2 Scored with four minutes to go to make it 2-1, then conceded two minutes later – THEM.
  10. Walsall (H) 1-1 Conceded 10 minutes after taking the lead midway through the second half – THEM.
  11. Sheff Wed (A) 4-4 Now *this* was a draw I’m happy with – US.
  12. Carlisle (H) 1-1 Conceded after 8 minutes, equalised before half-time then… Nothing – THEM.
  13. Notts County (A) 2-2 Conceded one 15 minutes after going 2-0 up and the equaliser with a few minutes to go – THEM.
  14. Tranmere (A) See Bury (H)
  15. MK Dons (H) See Walsall (H)
  16. Stevenage (A) See Notts County (A)
  17. Bury (A) 3-3 Went 3-0 up and fucked it up in the second half – THEM
  18. Rochdale (H) See Rochdale (A) – seriously, it’s almost exactly the same
  19. Colchester (A) 1-1 Last gasp Colchester own-goal salvages a point for Town. Smithies also saved a penalty – US

Now I know we are the all-conquering should-be-top-of-the-league Huddersfield Town, but surely there must be more than one match out of the sixteen we have drawn this season that we’ve gone home the happier team? No equalisers with a few minutes to go for us, except in that crazy Wednesday game. The fact that the last three draws have been virtual carbon copies of three previous draws we’ve had, should be telling our new manager… something.

Aaaand while we’re on the topic of our exciting new manager, I’d just like to link to these two websites:-

and tell you to pay extra special attention to the postscript on page four of the first site. If anyone reading this ever gets the opportunity, please could you ask Mr Grayson the following questions:-

  1. Were you beau one?
  2. Did you and Steve Walsh recreate a goal he scored at Wembley in a hotel room using a Ferrero Rocher, while our heroine sat on the bed reading?
  3. Did you make the beast with two backs with her in your car parked at Filbert Street and get told off by the club?
  4. Did you go for a ‘look round’ at AS Monaco while you were at Villa, and took Joanne along?

That’ll do for starters, but it was all such golden radio that there are many, many more questions…

Plumping Up Those Mid-Table Cushions

251898_cushions2After last month’s wonderful result at Stadium:Asda, Huddersfield Town decided that the best way they could hammer home their promotion-chasing credentials would be to draw two home games in a row and lose four away league games in a row. A ‘bullying’ 4-0 win against Exeter (who are probably not long for this division) was the only semi-bright spot of a period that also saw Town go out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties to League Two side Chesterfield. Once again, Town look likely to be finishing with a points total significantly less than one standard deviation from the mean – that’s mid-table to people not familiar with statistics.

A 0-0 bore draw against Brentford was followed by a dismal 3-1 away performance against Millwall – the only bright spots being Jordan Rhodes’ late consolation and no bookings. Stockport’s excellent Welsh ‘keeper Owain Fôn Williams then put in one of his ‘superman’ performances meaning another 0-0 at home, before a Tuesday night away defeat at Walsall, where the winner was scored by Dwayne Mattis. Yes, that’s right (any Town fans who remember him), Mr ‘Bambi-on-ice’ himself. Town took the lead through Theo Robinson before yet another penalty was awarded against us, this time for handball by Joe Skarz. The next match was equally painful listening, as a gutsy performance was completely undermined by a typically shite lower-league referee. He adjudged Peter Clarke had jumped leading with his arm, earning him a second yellow card (look, it’s either a red because it was a deliberate elbow, or nothing because it wasn’t – a yellow card for something like that is ludicrous). Three minutes later, Odejayi prodded home and that was that – another defeat on the road.

The next match was one of those ‘we really want to win it, but if we don’t, we can concentrate on the league’ things. After Chesterfield went 3-1 up in the 90th minute (Pilkington with a 64th minute equaliser), Lee Clark was readying his best ‘now we can concentrate on the league’ speech, before three minutes into stoppage time Pilkington scored again. A minute and a half later, Nathan Clarke equalised with the last kick of the game. That’s it, book the coaches, we’re off to Wembley? Well, not quite. This stupid trophy goes straight to penalties after 90 minutes and after Pilkington and Goodwin saw their kicks high and saved respectively, we were out after all – 4-2 on penalties. Only Huddersfield Town would snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.

So, to last week’s match with Exeter. The pressure was on Lee Clark before this match, because he had ‘slammed’ his side’s defending after the Chesterfield match. There was also the added wrinkle of Marcus Stewart being present in the Exeter line-up, but he is so past his best, the only contribution he made to the match was getting caught offside in the 11th minute before being replaced in the 63rd. Still – legend. After Novak’s early opener, it was time for the ‘Jordan Rhodes show’ as he grabbed a hat-trick of headers in nine minutes of play either side of half time. Roy Keane’s biggest regret since he decided he’d rather be walking his dog than playing in a World Cup? I should think so. There were some strange newspaper reports on the Monday afterwards as apparently Wolves are interested in buying him. Given that we’ve only just bought him, absolutely, positively don’t need to sell and nothing can happen until January anyway, I really don’t understand why these stories surface so early in the season. Anyway, beating Exeter – it’s like kicking away a blind man’s stick.

Of course we were going to lose today. Phil ‘empty chair’ Parkinson is getting his team of excellent youngsters and experienced old heads straight up at the first attempt without messing about. It’s called ‘doing a Leicester’ now and is most recommended for big clubs like Charlton, Norwich, Southampton etc. You don’t want to be scrabbling around in this division for years on end like a certain other West Yorkshire outfit seem to be doing. Anyway, we conceded two sloppy goals from set-pieces with Pilkington equalising in between.

With an away record that reads P7 W1 D1 L5 and a home record almost the opposite (incredibly, we’re still unbeaten at home, so it’s P6 W4 D2 L0) it looks like another season where the end of April and the whole of May will only matter to other football teams.

A-bloody-gain.

Pickle ‘n’ Onion Nik Naks, Rubbish Drivers and Huddersfield Town

Scampi 'n' Lemon - The Business

After yesterday’s magnificent result away at Pete Winkleman’s Business Deal FC, you would think this post would contain nothing but unbridled bombast about how Jordan Rhodes and Theo Robinson are going to score fifty goals between them and Leeds and Charlton are just keeping the top two places warm for us while we go through the gears. Before that, however, I have two matters that must be addressed – and they are nothing to do with Huddersfield Town. I won’t even attempt to tenuously link them with a metaphor, as I previously did with the Sainsbury’s oranges.

First, what in blazers are KP snack foods thinking? While I am delighted that my ten pack Nik Naks multi-pack contained not one, not two, not even three but four extree bags of delicious extruded corn goodness, it appears there is no place left in the world for my all-time favourite flavour – namely scampi ‘n’ lemon – as they have been replaced by pickle ‘n’ onion (they’re taking this ‘n’ idea too far now – rib ‘n’ saucy was bad enough).

Now, I know this is probably a contentious issue, with half of the readership (about two-or-three of you, yeah?) now thinking “what the hell are you on about? Scampi ‘n’ lemon Nik Naks smell and taste like socks worn by someone with athlete’s foot for a week, then left down the radiator for four weeks”. Well you lot are wrong – they are magnificent. One of my regular memories from school was having a sneaky bag of sweets or crisps in one of my blazer pockets (yes, I went to Grammar school – it was a brown blazer) and the only time I ever got caught, and made to leave the classroom completely, was when I had secreted a bag of these wonderful things upon myself and several of my fellow classmates (who, to be fair, rarely snitched) could not stand the odour being given off. Anyway, scampi ‘n’ lemon – bring them back KP, or I’ll set up an online petition. You have been warned.

The second matter that must be addressed is best explained in the form of a photograph, taken by myself in Sainsbury’s car park:

Twat

Sweet Jesus – what on earth were you thinking, you massive bell-end? Do you hold your fellow human beings in such utter contempt as to not even attempt to park your huge gas-guzzling monstrosity properly? I certainly wouldn’t do it, but one day, you will reap the whirlwind in the form of a slashed tyre or a big key mark for this kind of shit.

Anyway, now the non-footballing stuff is out of the way, I should first recap how Huddersfield Town did at the arse-end of last season. After my rambling ‘Taste The Difference’ post, we played 11 – winning five, drawing three and losing three. We finished a mediocre ninth and if we hadn’t gone to sleep in the last minute against Stockport, Colchester and Millwall… we would still have finished outside the play-offs, so it didn’t matter anyway. Results in the run-in included a 3-1 defeat away at Tranmere, which pretty much killed our play-off hopes. This match was also notable for Tranmere’s useful-looking left-footed centre-back-converted-into-a-midfielder scoring a brace – more on him later. The 2-2 home game against Cheltenham featured them racing into a two-goal lead, before we pulled one back, missed a penalty (taken by Robbie Williams? Why?!?!) before finally scraping a draw in the last minute through an Andy Butler header. It also contained one of the most blatant sendings-off I have ever seen as Josh Low (he is no stranger to the red card) stamped on Tom Clarke right in front of the referee. Southend won 1-0 at our place, just as we had done at theirs earlier in the season. An excellent away win at Scunthorpe was followed by a rubbish 1-0 home win against Carlisle, which was only interesting as Andy Booth scored his 146th goal of his Huddersfield Town career. With three games left, could the big man score four more to get to 150? Incredibly, he could, as a fantastic 3-2 away win at Walsall (two for Booth), a 2-2 home draw against Brighton (one for Booth) and finally a 1-1 draw away at Leyton Orient (Boothy putting us in front) meant he ended his career on that magical 150 goals for Huddersfield Town. There’s another article in itself about this talismanic player and what he meant (and still means) to Huddersfield Town supporters, but instead I’ll just end this section with a picture of Andy doing what he did better than any other player I’ve ever seen at any level – winning the ball in the air and nutting it into the opposition net. Legend:

Boooooooothy

Anyway, Lee Clark was extremely busy during the summer. The welcome signing of Andy Kiwomya as fitness coach and the coup signing of Andrew “outstanding” Cole as striker coach meant the Town bench would probably need reinforcing due to the amount of bodies present. On the playing side, Clark adopted a sensible strategy of signing other teams in this division’s player of the year, plus players from the division above. Yeovil’s classy right-back Lee Peltier was the first signing for an ‘undisclosed fee’ (quelle surprise). Lee was followed by Peter Clarke and Antony Kay from Southend and Tranmere respectively (the latter being the useful-looking left-footed centre-back-converted-into-a-midfielder I mentioned earlier). Finally, we needed some decent strikers. Out went Keigan Parker (two goals all season – free to Oldham), Phil Jevons (four goals all season – two for us and two on loan at Bury – loaned to Morecambe for the season) and Tom Denton (two goals on loan at Woking – loaned to Cheltenham for the season) and in came Robbie Simpson (£300k from Coventry – wow! an actual amount!), Theo Robinson (undisclosed from Watford) and Jordan Rhodes (undisclosed from Ipswich). The signed of Rhodes raised a few eyebrows – especially among Ipswich fans, who had seen the lad knock in plenty of goals pre-season and heard Roy Keane say how he was going to be an important part of the season ahead. These three, plus the returning Lee Novak, who’s goals had helped Gateshead win promotion to the Conference, meant we had a strike-force that could potentially cause defences problems in this division. Just how many problems, I was entirely unprepared for.

After a so-so pre-season – winning against all the smaller clubs (apart from a 2-2 draw at Gateshead), drawing 0-0 at home to Coventry (predictably, the only one I went to see), losing 1-0 at home to Newcastle (featuring a massive fight between the players leading to Habib Beye getting booted in the chest and Lee Novak getting a whack on the chin) – Town began the season with a tricky away game at Southend. After going 2-0 down, the Town players finally started the season and goals from Pilkington and Rhodes on his début could have had the tin hat put on them by a winner, had Michael Collins not stupidly got himself sent off. Comprehensive 3-1 home wins to Stockport in the Carling Cup and Southampton in the league (Rhodes bagged a brace in each game, Robinson and Kay were the other scorers in each game respectively) were followed by an incredible 7-1 home league win against Brighton. It could have been a lot more, as Town were denied twice by the woodwork, once by an incorrect ‘had-it-crossed-the-line?’ decision and Rhodes missed a penalty. Amazingly, he didn’t score all night – Robinson got 2 and Kay, Peter Clarke, Novak (pen), Roberts and Danny Drinkwater (on-loan from Man United) were the other scorers. The best goal of the night was the Brighton equaliser, a superb volley on the turn scored by blast-from-last-season Liam Dickinson.

It was Typical Town™ the following Saturday as they travelled, full of confidence, to Bristol Rovers and promptly lost 1-0. After giving away a penalty in the first half, which Smithies saved, it was no such luck in the second as another penalty was awarded in the 84th minute and walloped in by Jeff Hughes. The next match was an action-packed 4-3 defeat at St James’ Park, Newcastle, where Town lead 3-1 just after half-time (Robinson twice  and Rhodes) but Shola Ameobi broke the travelling fans’ hearts by first netting a 64th minute penalty, then setting up Kevin Nolan to slot in the winner six minutes from the end. It was tremendous radio and I am jealous of anyone who was actually there. Yesterday’s delicious 3-2 defeat of Franchise FC (Rhodes, Robinson and Kay) was preceded by a tough 2-1 home win against Yeovil (Robinson and Collins) and a slightly less-tough 2-1 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy away win at Rotherham (Peter Clarke and Robbie Simpson) on a pitch half-decimated by a U2 concert a few weeks earlier:

Don Valley Stadium Pitch

So Town currently sit third in the league on 13 points (played 6, won 4, drawn 1, lost 1) and have two on-fire strikers in Theo Robinson and Jordan Rhodes with 4 goals in 6 league games apiece). Ordinarily, this would have probably put us in the top two, but Charlton and those wretches from Beeston have gone and won every single game they’ve played so far and both sit joint top with 18 points. Still, we mustn’t worry or panic, as there’s only one club in the top three who has a decent chairman and they’ll both probably lose all their best players in January. Now, if KP snack foods and that twat of a 4×4 driver above could just ‘fall-in’ by respectively bringing back scampi ‘n’ lemon and learning how to park, my small world would be a god damn fantastic place right now.

Where’s tha bin?

Not busy – that would simply be a lie. It’s actually been so long, WordPress has changed the admin interface so much I have no idea what I’m doing now.

I am going to endeavour to write at least one post a month, starting next week. I may not keep to this, but hopefully I will.

Stay tuned…

Taste The Difference? Tastes The Same To Me…

Taste The DifferenceSo here I am, sat in on a Saturday night tucking into Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ clementines. Life is pretty good, you may be thinking?, well you’re wrong – and here’s why.

You see, the ‘Taste The Difference’ stuff is not that different to yer standard Sainsbury’s clementine. I still have to use a key (or a wife) to start the peeling off, because I don’t have any fingernails (more on why in the footnote). I still have to spit the fucking pips into a bin like I’m the starting pitcher for the Yankees, or even one of those old-timey bearded guys who sits on a rocking chair in Western films hocking loogies into a spittoon with an audible ‘ping’. Admittedly, they’re a definite step up from the Sainsbury’s ‘Basics’ clementine. I dread to think what horrible, cramped conditions those poor oranges were brought up in.

Where am I going with this? Well the reason I bought the ‘Taste The Difference’ product was… I don’t really know. You spend more, so you expect to get better quality. Even what you can’t actually ‘taste’ the ‘difference’, you pretend to yourself that you can because you desperately want to justify to yourself that those clementines were worth the extra fifty pence or whatever. I actually imagine that extra dough probably goes on marketing and packaging (I would appreciate any comments from Sainsbury’s clarifying this).

OK, but where does this posting relate to Huddersfield Town?

Four months ago we gave Stan Ternent the boot. It had to happen – the stubborn old fool was making all the academy lads cry and blaming everyone but himself for the team of mainly his signings run around the pitch like a pack of drunken fuckwits. In his fifteen games in charge he had won four, drawn five and lost six – amassing seventeen miserable points. Despite Dean Hoyle’s blah-blah’ing about it being for a ‘difference of opinion’ and that he believed Stan ‘would get us promoted’, this low points total was the reason Ternent was sent packing. At this point, as discussed in the previous post, in steps Gerry Murphy. Despite getting knocked out of the FA Cup at home to Port Vale in freakish fashion, Gerry, with the help of Graham Mitchell, wins four out the five games he is in charge to help us back up into the top half of the table (the sole defeat at home to Leyton Orient was, apparently, a massacre but we just couldn’t score). So that’s twelve points from five games. Impressive.

With great fanfare, Huddersfield Town announce a management team that sent shockwaves throughout League One (well, it should have done, but League One doesn’t really work like that – the fans of Hartlepool and Brighton etc. just raised their eyebrows slightly and said ‘oh’). Lee Clark was to come in as manager, with Terry McDermott as his assistant, Derek Fazackerley as first-team coach and Steve Black as performance coach. Clark was previously assistant manager at Norwich and has apparently been coaching since he was nineteen. McDermott was Kevin Keegan’s right-hand man at Newcastle in the early 90′s. Fazackerley was previously a scout at Manchester City under Sven Goran Eriksson and had worked with Kevin Keegan in the England set-up. ‘Blackie’ (he sounds like one of Prince Charles’ friends) used to throw drunken people through windows as a bouncer in Newcastle, but now seems to help glass-legged rugby players stop crying and can supposedly motivate dozy footballers with his friendly beard and jolly, affable nature. This was a real ‘Taste The Difference’ management team. The season starts here! NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG NOW!

(Aside: at this point I was looking for footage of a plane crash on YouTube to have as a link and couldn’t find one where no-one died and the video had the excellent neeeeeeeeeeaaaaaoooooowwwwwww sound as the plane heads down. Don’t look for plane crashes on YouTube by the way – it’s grim…)

Anyway, Clark and his high-priced team brought in several players in the January transfer window. Lionel Ainsworth is a short-arse right winger who has zero tricks. None. He does however run like Usain Bolt with his arse on fire, so getting past the left-back is a simple matter of knocking it past him and getting there first. He looks promising and, along with Cadders, means we’re probably covered for right wingers now. Anthony Pilkington is a winger who can play on either wing or up front. Such versatility means, along with Gary Roberts, we’re probably covered for left-wingers now. So that’s four quality wingers – each capable of beating their man and pinging the ball into the box. Now, given that our previous strikeforce of Keigan Parker (two goals, short, mental) Phil Jevons (two goals, short, lazy, useless), Andy Booth (two goals, permanently injured) and Danny Broadbent (zero goals, fuck knows because I’ve never seen him play) haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this season, surely a striker or two was on the cards?

After being linked with every striker in every league (sample names: Danny Graham, Chris Porter, Rickie Lambert, Paul Gallagher) Lee announces with great fanfare that we have secured the services of Jonathan Téhoué. Signed, presumably, on the strength of this video, a brief trial where he scored against a team of Blackburn’s ball-boys and his agent saying he’s available on a free. He has yet to play for Town, however, due to the small matter that he is contracted to Konyaspor in Turkey until 2011. Now, I may know fuck-all about the ins and outs of a professional football club, but isn’t it better to make sure something can definitely happen before announcing it with great fanfare? There’s the usual bluster about taking it to FIFA or whoever, but the fact is we cannot play the guy and probably won’t until next season – if we offer him a contract because the contract he supposedly has with us only runs until the end of this one. Farce all the way around, down and back up again. Typical Town, if you like.

The second striker Lee signed is called Lee Novak. He cost close to a hundred thousand pounds. He likes to score goals and has banged plenty in for Gateshead in the Conference North in the first half of the season. Let’s get him in and see how he does, right? Wrong. Apparently, them getting promotion into the Conference is more important than Huddersfield having a player who can actually stick the ball in the back of the fucking net on a regular basis. Back on loan to them for the rest of the season – part of the deal you see. To add insult to injury, we have even now loaned them one of our other strikers (Danny Broadbent) as well. So much for us being a big club – we get pushed around by the likes of Gateshead these days.

The final signing is young Everton striker Lukas Jutkiewicz. So far, he hasn’t impressed. Instead of using his height in the box getting on the end of all those yummy crosses and making himself a nuisance for opposition defenders, Lukas seems to waft around the pitch like a paper bag in the wind. He tries less than Phil Jevons, which I didn’t actually think was possible without pulling the Huddersfield shirt off and donning one of the opposition. He also hasn’t scored a goal in nearly two years of professional football. What. The. Fuck. Did. We. Sign. Him. For?

Mind you, at least we’ve got rid of Keigan Parker – he’s been shipped out to Hartlepool on loan. Watch out both chip and knocking shops in the Hartlepool area – that’s all I can say.

Anyway, back to my initial point. As I mentioned earlier, Huddersfield had forgone Stan Ternent’s ‘standard’ management team because they felt that with a bit more cash, we (the supporters) would be able to ‘taste the difference’ with Lee Clark and his mob. Now, given that Gerry Murphy managed twelve points from five games without Lee’s carefully selected brace of wingers and hat-trick of strikers, guess how many more points this lot have managed in fifteen games (exactly the same amount Ternent had)?

Three. Three measly points. Won five, drawn five, lost five – twenty points in fifteen games. I don’t actually feel I’m tasting the difference here.

Footnote: Here’s why I don’t have any fingernails right now – in the last three games Huddersfield Town have either been winning or drawing, before the opposition have scored in injury time. Nathan Clarke equalised for Stockport deep into injury time last Saturday to celebrate signing his new contract the previous day, Dean Hammond celebrated his granddad inventing the organ by knocking in the slowest free-kick ever in the third minute of injury time to rescue a point for Colchester on Tuesday night and today Millwall stroked home the winner thirty seconds before the end of the match (and, incredibly, ten seconds after we had a corner – their defender picked it up just outside his own box and ran the length of the pitch like Forrest Gump – it was truly breathtaking to watch).

Murphy’s Law: Casper, Get Down Off That Goalpost!

Gareth J DykesOK, so I never made any bold claims about how often I would update this blog. My abstinence is not a profound embarrassment regarding my wham-bam opening post describing how Stan just needed a few more weeks and the players would all start clicking away together like metronomes on a piece of plywood supported by two cans of pop.

You see, I didn’t want this to be a traditional “we wun 2day 2-1!!!” diary-style blog. I have typical delusions of grandeur that I am to write insightful articles that will spark comment streams as long as one of the balls Stan was overseeing our defenders hit up to Liam Dickinson’s confused head a few weeks ago (and I am aware that ending two consecutive paragraphs with a simile renders the technique slightly less effective – I just enjoyed these two – particularly the metronomes one – I mean, how cool is that?).

Anyway, Stan has gone. He departed three weeks ago, taking his assistant Ronnie Jepson, first-team coach Mick Docherty, physio Ian Liversedge and, most pleasingly, vice-chairman Andrew Watson with him. Despite calls by the current chairman Ken Davy and chairman-elect Dean Hoyle to give thanks to Mr Watson for what he has done at the club, I prefer to remember an uncommunicative lickspittle to Mr Davy who did everything he could to obstruct people who wanted answers about the secretive way the stadium shares were transferred away from the football club and mislead fans time and again in radio interviews about how the club was on a sound financial footing and how much the academy directly cost the club to run each year. It’s no secret now that Ternent was his choice and after it proved an unmitigated disaster, the only course of action left open to him was to fall on his sword. Farewell, Smithers.

The reason given for Ternent’s ‘mutual consent’ (yeah, yeah) exit was ‘a disagreement about how to take the club forward’ between Hoyle and the alleged-but-cleared Burnley brawler. Common suspicion is that Ternent didn’t much like the academy system and wanted the club to source talent a different way. Personally, I think having an academy is a beacon of goodness for a club in division three. OK, it may have churned out quite a few mediocre lightweights over the last few years, but when we get it right, we get a good player for a season or two and a big wedge of cash if we sell them. Anyway, Ternent was out and although it was sad to see the back of Ronnie Jepson with the reputation he had at the club from his playing days, right now he is associated with Ternent and as such is associated with failure.

Step forward our beloved Brian Glover doppelgänger Director of Football Development (and former Academy Director) Gerry Murphy, assisted by another former town player Graham Mitchell. Although his spell of six games in charge at the end of Peter Jackson’s second spell in 2006/07 was not so successful, his last secondment towards the end of last season (after dugout-leaning dullard Andy Ritchie was sent packing) was more fruitful. He engineered two draws followed by four wins to round off the season in style – the sweetest moment undoubtedly being the 1-0 home win against Leeds, with Andy Holdsworth heading the only goal of the game.

This time round his first game was an insane FA Cup first-round tie against Port Vale. After leading 3-1 with eleven minutes to go, Town capitulated to lose 4-3 with the winner a sweetly struck free-kick in the last minute. Inevitably, questions about fitness were asked, particularly after we had seen it all before only a few weeks ago. His second game probably couldn’t have been a tougher prospect. With forwards Luciano Becchio and Jermaine Beckford in awesome form, England under-21 midfielder Fabian Delph attracting the attention of Arsène Wenger among others and a defence full of quality players with international and major European competition experience, Leeds United are undoubtedly the biggest club in League One. After going behind to Robert Snodgrass’ opener after four minutes, Town played with a resilience and battling quality rarely seen this season and after Joe Skarz capitalised on Casper Ankergren’s inability to deal with a Keigan Parker cross just after half-time, Michael Collins contorted has body wonderfully to volley home Danny Cadamerteri’s cross in the last minute of injury time. Collins was on hand again to sweep home the only goal of the game away at Brighton on Saturday.

So it’s two league wins in a row for ‘Sir’ Gerry who is fast becoming one of the most successful managers (by win percentage) the club has never officially had. Although he claims he doesn’t want the job full-time, it is interesting to note that four of the six goals that have been scored with him in charge were scored by graduates of the academy he crafted. The same academy that Stan Ternent didn’t trust enough to put his faith in, preferring instead to attempt to spend his way out of this division. Well Stan, I hope you enjoy your Christmas dinner at home, because we’ve got a table to climb.

The Great Escape: Season 1997/98

Note: The following is based on an article I wrote a while ago that has been turned down for publication not once, but twice. I’m sure seeing the article on here makes the people involved feel somewhat akin to Dick Rowe, the legendary A&R man at Decca Records, who turned down signing The Beatles and uttered the immortal words “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein”. Then again, maybe the article is toilet.

This article is dedicated to the chairman during this incredible season (and lifelong Huddersfield Town fan) Malcolm Asquith, who died earlier this year.

Great Escape DVD Cover

End-of-season review videos usually follow one simple format: a dry narrative over chronological footage of the goals, interspersed with league table graphics showing how the team is placed throughout the season. In the pre-YouTube days, this was all a fan of a lower-league team desired, as the alternative method of revisiting all the goals would have required staying up until 1.30am every Monday evening to tune into Nationwide Football League Extra.

It was, therefore, rather fitting that a season as exciting as 1997/98 should have a season review like no other. Loosely based around the film of the same name (the opening sequence features the team jogging along the banks of the River Calder to the strains of, predictably, Elmer Bernstein’s famous theme), The Great Escape charts a season where after nine games the team had failed to win once and sat rooted to the foot of the table. Chairman Malcolm Asquith sacked Brian Horton and in came former Huddersfield player Peter Jackson and his assistant, former Wales boss Terry Yorath. The two knew each other well  (Yorath had previously managed Jackson at Bradford) and together, they set about engineering Huddersfield’s eventual sixteenth place finish.

The plot centres on ‘Jacko’ and ‘Taff’, as they are known throughout, utilising three ‘escape plans’, named after certain key players (reliable defender Jon Dyson, big target-man Wayne Allison and hard-as-nails defender Kevin Gray). There are also interviews with other players and short cut-scenes featuring club mascot Terry Terrier.

It is usually a good indicator how troubled a club is by how many players it uses in one season, and Huddersfield used no fewer than thirty-seven. Jackson seemed to make mostly the right moves, however, bringing in experienced midfielders Barry Horne and David Phillips (Yorath’s Wales connections no doubt playing a part in attracting them), skilful midfielder Lee Richardson, goalkeeper Steve Harper (on loan from Newcastle) and the aforementioned Allison. Midfielder Paul Dalton, a Horton signing, was also given license to roam from his left-wing position and he weighed in with 13 valuable goals. The team’s undoubted star was talismanic striker Marcus Stewart who bagged 16 goals. Unsuccessful signings, such as hopeless defender Alex Dyer and ropey goalkeeper Vince Bartram are mentioned only briefly.

One facet of the season that is worth mentioning is the exorcising of the spectre of Manchester City. In addition to Horton’s dismissal, exactly 10 years to the day since the notorious Malcolm ‘Supermac’ Macdonald-led rabble collapsed 10-1 at Maine Road, City fan Rob Edwards steered home a superb volley after a 7-man 16-pass build up in front of the Sky cameras to hand Town a 1-0 win. As if that wasn’t enough, Town’s home 4-0 capitulation at the hands of Port Vale on the final day of the season effectively relegated The Citizens into the third tier. Ouch.

Widely regarded as the most entertaining and well-produced Huddersfield Town season review, The Great Escape is fondly remembered by Town fans. This was Jackson’s first wide-eyed foray into management and there was a genuine feeling of optimism and hope for the future. The subsequent takeover by Barry Rubery and sacking of Jackson at the end of the following season are looked back on with a sense as to what could have been, had he been given the same backing as successor Steve Bruce.

Huddersfield Town – The Great Escape was written & directed by Simon Normington and produced by Perfect Pitch. It is currently unavailable to buy, except here where it appears you can purchase the VHS video for £10. If you need a video recorder to play it on, try your local tip.



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