Yorkshire Grit

Huddersfield Town, Saturday 3 February

How to get there

It’s a long hike by car or train. Luckily Huddersfield remains a vibrant transport hub. Or it would if the Huddersfield Joint Omnibus Committee had not preserved its bus and tramway vehicles in 1983 to mark the centenary of the First Municipal Operator “Huddersfield Corporation”. Since that day, not a single bus, tram or monorail has served the Yorkshire town so you have to get off at Leeds and walk.

The Ground

The McAlpine Stadium – or is it the Galpharm now? – was heralded for its futuristic appearance when it was first built, but the original design was significantly compromised by local planning authorities. The architect intended each stand to replicate the giant heads of Easter Island, with away fans accommodated on a balcony housed in an enormous nostril (they would be allocated both eye sockets for FA Cup ties), but the council feared that, given that the site was a reclaimed chemical refuse tip, people would fear that they had grown out of the ground of their own accord. The final design is all very nice, but it can be a bit dead when it’s over half empty, as it will be on Saturday. Though not as dead as when The Eagles played there in the late 90s and Don Henley forgot the words to Hotel California, much to everyone’s embarrassment.

Where to Drink

Lots of choice for ale freaks…try The Vulcan (on Lord Street near the station) or The Crescent – enroute to the ground, with Sky Sports and cask Tetley. But leave time to visit the fish and chip shop near the old Leeds Road ground, where you get bits on your chips.

Nickname

The Terriers. In tribute to Terry the Terrier, a frisky young pup who played in goal for Huddersfield in their first ever fixture, a friendly against Bradford Park Avenue. He kept a clean sheet but disgraced himself by getting drunk in celebration, ransacking a local cemetary, shagging a recently deceased old lady’s leg and then eating her right ear. He never played for the club again.

Local Attractions

The Standedge Tunnel – Britain’s longest, highest, deepest canal tunnel, which crosses the Pennines from Diggle to Marsden on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The Binman dropped his programme in it last season

Manor Heath Park Jungle Experience. A chance to relive the 1970s when West Yorkshire was completely engulfed in tropical rain forests. Now little more than a stagnant pond filled with dead terrapins which is used by a few disgruntled parakeets as a crapper

The Supporters

Mostly crusty old men who still turn up at matches with gas masks for fear of a return to the 1940s when no-one was allowed inside Leeds Road without one. They still wax lyrical about the old tramcar which doubled as a ticket office, the glory years under Herbert Chapman and the magical cup replay victory over the Gills in 1993. Famous fans include Patrick Stewart and several Klingons. Harold Wilson was a fervent supporter but gave up following relegation and death in consecutive seasons.

Don’t Mention

Dirty Leeds. Steve Bruce

Huddersfield Hate Figures

There was a chap called Mark Lillis who I took a dislike to in the 80s, but I don’t really know why. I think it was because his shorts were always too tight and he had a habit of scoring against us. The perennially mincing and tumbling Leon Knight had a spell on the ground here.

Who Remembers?

Going 3-0 up inside 18 minutes in Keith Peacock’s first season in the mud and rain at Priestfield. Even in those days “Easy easy easy!” echoed around the ground. Then Weatherly looped one into his own net and we held on grimly for a 3-2 victory. 

Getting tonked by a team of giants at Priestfield in 82/83. Not fair sides and a 3-1 clobbering despite a splendid Steve Bruce diving header. 

Steve Lovell scoring for a sixth consecutive match to give us a late lead at Leeds Road in 1988. A late lead we didn’t hold on to, and we went on to lose the next 13 matches.

The dullest cup tie in history. Huddersfield Town, bottom of the old Third Division, were not exactly our dream 3rd round opponents in 1993 when we were trying to pretend we weren’t bottom of the entire league. A 0-0 draw in the freezing fog didn’t trouble the Match of the Day highlights that evening. The replay saw the Gills gubbed pointlessly 2-1, the side having an average age of 15.

A vital 3-2 away win on our first visit to the new stadium in our first Championship season

BMH Prediction

Joy for Rocket Ronnie on his return to his former club with a sensational second clean sheet in a week. 0-0 draw….

The Morty Vicker

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