Jon Swift
2 minute read
3 Jun 2017
6:45 am

Terriers just won’t let go

Jon Swift

There have to be some mixed feelings about the Terriers of Huddersfield Town returning to the top tier of English football after a 45-year absence labouring in the boondocks of the game.

Ball on the pitch.

You have to rejoice for the West Yorkshire market town, situated halfway between Leeds and Manchester, which has been judged in recent years for its role in the Industrial Revolution, when the Luddites began destroying mills and machinery in response to the lessening reliance on manual labour – and for being the birthplace of rugby league, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and film star James Mason.

But the Terriers were once a footballing force.

Back in 1926, Huddersfield became the first English team to win three successive league titles: a feat that only three other clubs – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United – have been able to match.

Huddersfield Town also won the FA Cup in 1922 and have been runners-up four times. But after World War II, the town declined and, along with that, inevitably the fortunes of its football club.

Until a legendary manager who was to gain lasting fame at Liverpool named Bill Shankly started the revival with a team that included Denis Law and Ray Wilson, who lifted them back into the top flight.

But after two seasons, the Terriers were again left snapping at the heels of the more fashionable sides from the reaches of the lower divisions.

Then along came German-born manager David Wagner, a US international who steered them back to the big time. The town was ecstatic.

The debate, though, should be how Wagner and Huddersfield did it as they forced their way through the play-offs to beat Reading and earn promotion. Having fought all season to get into position, both Huddersfield and Reading took the cautious route.

They opted out of any adventurous attacks and ended the game after extra time.

Why would either side place any faith in the Russian roulette of a penalty shoot-out?

It was a second successive shootout win for the Terriers, who defeated Sheffield Wednesday on spot-kicks in the semifinals.

Having Huddersfield back in the Premier League is cause for celebration. How they achieved it could well be questioned.

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