I’m happy to say that I’ll be one of the thousand-odd Bluenoses making our way up the M1 to Huddersfield on Saturday. I’ve only been to a couple of away games this season, and I’ve not seen us win yet, but I do have a good feeling about this one. Huddersfield are in poor form at the moment, and the return of our strikers ought to be a big plus. I am hopeful that we can come back with all 3 points.
Despite the unfortunate injury to Packwood, the injury situation generally has somewhat improved since our last match. You’ll probably be pleased to know that Marlon King, who has scored 36% (12) of our league goals this season, is now back in contention. Peter Lovenkrands has also returned to the squad from injury, and though he hasn’t been as effective goalscoring wise this season, he’ll add us another much-needed option going forward. Zigic, who seems to have made the difference for us as an impact sub in previous matches, comes back after his two match ban.
The likes of Callum Reilly and Morgaro Gomis have done well for us in midfield, but I’m looking forward to seeing Jonathon Spector back, because I think he can make the difference for us- we’ve really missed him since he got injured against Wolves. A piece of good news is that Rob Hall has extended his loan spell, which is great for us because his delivery from set plays have been superb, occasionally earning him the man of the match accolade. Hopefully Clark can judge Caddis fit enough for the game, because I’m not sure otherwise who would be playing at right-back now Packwood is injured.
Assuming the aforementioned players will be fit enough, my team would be: Doyle; Caddis, Davies, Pablo, Robinson; Reilly, Spector; Hall, Morrison, Lovenkrands; King
A bit about Huddersfield
Huddersfield aren’t a club famous for their history of success, but they were in fact the first club to win 3 consecutive English league titles in the 1920s, a feat which only Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool have been able to do since. They won the FA Cup in 1922 and were runners-up on various other occasions. Post-war Huddersfield then spent 30 years rarely far from mid-table in England’s top-flight until the 1950s, when a slight yo-yo period ensued. They recovered well from being relegated for the first time in their history in 1952, by attaining promotion at the first time of asking and finishing 3rd on their return to division one. They couldn’t sustain this however, and their second relegation from the top-flight in 1956 lead to manager Andy Beattie’s resignation.
The next period saw Huddersfield be the founders of two Scottish legends of British football. Replacing Andy Beattie as manager was Bill Shankly, who was to go on to spend 15 successful years at Liverpool, but he couldn’t inspire Huddersfield to success. However, notably under him Huddersfield became the first side in the history of the football league to score 6 goals and lose a match. They led Charlton 5-1 with half an hour to go, with a man advantage before letting the lead slip, but on another occasion they also beat Shankly’s future employers Liverpool 5-0, and with 10 men! Denis Law was the other man, and his £55K transfer to Manchester City financed the building of the floodlights at Leeds Road, although they collapsed due to a gale a year later, they were replaced and are still known as the ‘Denis Law lights’.
They could celebrate promotion back to the first tier in 1970, but this joy was to be short-lived. They spent just two seasons there, before experiencing a rapid decline with three relegations in the space of four seasons. Since then, they’ve been moving between tiers 2 and 3, spending a maximum of 6 years in each, but never being able to properly establish themselves in either league. They’ve made recent steps forward though, as they earned promotion through the play-offs last season and now look pretty good odds for another season in the Championship.
After a strong start to their campaign, Huddersfield aren’t in good shape at the moment, at least in the league. They did win in the FA Cup at Charlton last week, but they’ve failed to win any of their previous 10 Championship matches, of which they’ve lost 5. In fact, if the results of their last 10 games had been consistent over the first half of their season, they would actually be bottom of the table and 12pts away from safety.
Apart from Ipswich and all the teams in the bottom 3, they’ve got the worst goal difference in the league, though this is partly due to the heavy defeats they’ve had, such as losing 6-1 and 4-0 Leicester and Milwall respectively. The Terriers poor form suggests that this is very much a winnable game for us.
Huddersfield have struggled to find an established goalscorer this season, the sources of their goals have been particularly widespread- there are about 5 players who have scored a few goals, so they don’t have one solitary talisman. If I was to pinpoint a striker however, it would be Jermaine Beckford. Beckford has come up through the ranks of non-league football, was impressive in scoring 72 goals in 126 games for Leeds in League 1, but he didn’t quite take his opportunity to cut it in the Premiership with Everton.
Although he’s only scored four goals at Huddersfield on his loan spell from Leicester, one of them came when the Terriers visited St. Andrews back in October, and Beckford scored what proved to be the winner. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen on Saturday, but I’m quietly confident that it won’t.
On the last match of the 1994-95 division two season, Blues needed just a point at Huddersfield to ensure promotion to division one, and Bluenoses had come in numbers to the newly-built McAlpine stadium expecting a party, Huddersfield had nothing to play for as their play-off place was pre-booked. Though Ian Bennett had to make a fine early save from Jepson’s header, it was Blues who came closest to opening the scoring when Steve Claridge, incidentally now a pundit with the BBC, dinked the ball over keeper Francis from close range, but his shot hit the bar.
However, into the second half Claridge made up for that miss. Donowa’s right hand cross was knocked back by Cooper, and Claridge took a touch and scuffed his shot into the net to put Blues in front, and send fans and of course Barry Fry into raptures. More combination play between Claridge and Cooper allowed Cooper to pass the ball across, before Paul Tait shoved the ball past Francis at the second attempt to put us 2 up. Huddersfield got one back in the dying minutes, but Blues managed to hold on for promotion back to division one. It was to be a season of celebration for both teams, as we won both the second division title and the Auto Windscreen Shield, but Huddersfield were to eventually attain promotion via the play-offs.
I think a narrow win for us in this game. If we get a bit of luck with the fitness of our players returning from injury, then we’ll have a squad with more quality that can be more reflective of what we’re capable of. I can’t wait to see Marlon King back because the composure and experience in front of goal he provides is fantastic, and I think we’ve caught Huddersfield at the right time given their winless streak. I’m feeling positive, so will go with a repeat of that match back in 1995- 2-1 to the Blues.