Seventh Time Lucky For Huddersfield?

by Mike Moore

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Off to Old Trafford - but will Huddersfield gain promotion?

Now it’s not that I have anything against Peterborough – in fact I always enjoy going to their cosy little London Road ground and standing on one of the few remaining terraces in English football – but, along with many of the neutrals, I will be firmly backing Huddersfield Town in the League One play-off final this Sunday.

The glory days of the mid 1920’s, when they became the first team (and first members of a very exclusive club also containing Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United) to win three League titles in a row, are obviously far away, but this season has given real hope to Terriers’ fans. Throughout the season, Town have been there or thereabouts contesting for the second automatic promotion place (Brighton having stamped their authority over the division very early on), yet despite a very crowded schedule due to cup commitments, they were overhauled by a Southampton side who had several games in hand.

The incredible events of last week’s semi-final against Bournemouth, which ended 4-4 after extra time (after Anthony Kay scored a 106th minute equaliser) and was eventually decided by penalties, have set up a mouth-watering finale between two of League One’s most entertaining teams. Lee Clark’s men can certainly head into the final at Old Trafford full of confidence, but with history not exactly behind them.

This will be the seventh time that Town have contested the play-offs, and only two of these campaigns have ended in success (in 1995 and 2004). At the end of a record-breaking season for the club, where they recorded their highest number of points (87), their longest unbeaten League sequence (25 matches) and the highest number of consecutive away victories (6) (in the midst of the 13 away wins we secured, the most in League One, and a Club record for the Terriers), it seems only fair that they should be victorious on Sunday. But as we all know, football is never fair.

Chief Executive Nigel Clibbins has already stated that promotion would be worth nearly £10 million to the club, made up of increased attendances, television exposure, and football league handouts. And this seems essential for a club whose playing budget is significantly more than many of the teams in the division, and this is shown by the quality of players in the squad. Strikers Jordan Rhodes, midfield tyros Gary Roberts and Kevin Kilbane, and captain and centre back Peter Clarke, among other, could all play at a higher level. It seems that Huddersfield have always suffered the curse of having promising managers (Bill Shankly, Neil Warnock) and players cherry-picked by higher teams, but promotion this Sunday would surely put an end to that.


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