Date:Friday August 26 2011
Believe it or not but Wycombe Wanderers was formed twenty one years ahead of Huddersfield Town. The Terriers were formed in 1908 and due to Football League politics of the time they were elected to the Second Division just two years later. With Yorkshire a hotbed of Rugby League deviancy, the bigwigs at the League welcomed clubs who played association football with open arms.
Meanwhile two hundred miles south the Chairboys were giving up any ideas of playing professional football, rejecting an offer to continue playing in the Southern League Second Division to begin a successful pursuit of Amateur footballing glory.
I am desperately trying to avoid turning this article into a long lament at the passing of Leeds Road, the former home of Huddersfield Town. If I`m not careful I shall run out of tissues (to wipe the tears from eyes! You people!). The ground boasted one of the greatest covered terraces in English football and we missed it by all of one summer. Alas my feet were never meant to touch that concrete.
The Terriers greatest years were in the 1920`s when they won the first division title three years on the bounce. They also won the F.A. Cup during the halcyon days under manager Herbert Chapman. He was to move on to even more success with Woolwich Arsenal.
As if that wasn`t impressive enough, World Cup winner Ray Wilson and Denis Law used to play for Town whilst Bill Shankly and Neil (anagram man*) Warnock have both managed them. Well, you can`t have everything!
The town itself played an integral role in the industrial revolution and is now a leading light in the textile industry. It has leaned to the left politically for well over a century now with former Prime-minister Herbert H Asquith and Harold Wilson spending part of their childhood there.
In popular culture it was the scene of the last two shows played by the Sex Pistols in the UK. On Christmas Day 1977 they even put on a matinee performance for the children of striking fire-fighters. You can almost imagine them coming out singing "Don't be told what you want. Don't be told what you need. There's no future, no future, no future for you."
The longest running comedy sitcom Last of the Summer Wine is famously filmed around the Town and the picturesque surrounding villages. Actor Gordon Kaye, who played Rene Artois in 'Allo 'Allo!, was also born in the town. There`s also something for all you sci-fi geeks, Star Trek`s very own Sir Patrick Stewart OBE was born in the nearby village of Mirfield.
There have been a few *cough* memorable players to have worn both the blue and white stripes of Town and the light and dark blue quarters of the Wanderers. Defender Bob Dewhurst enjoyed loan spells with both clubs during the 1992/1993 season. Richard Keogh and Frank Sinclair have also had short spells in the centre of defence.
There has also been a quartet of strikers in Iffy Onoura, Fola Onibuje, Delroy Facey and Leon Knight. They are not listed in any particular order! Who`s your favourite? It`s a toughie!
It`s difficult for Wycombe fans to conjure up any particular, feelings good or bad, for Huddersfield. I`m sure the same is true for those who follow the Terriers. Their nickname does however sound similar to the word 'terror` and any Chairboy or girl who witnessed our last visit to The Kirklees Stadium will feel the horror starting to seep through their bones as the memories of that fateful date come flooding back.
Of course many more saw it than might otherwise have been the case thanks to Sky showing our humiliation live for the entire world to see. It really was a gruesome nightmare; like being forced to watch as your boy / girlfriend is ravished by someone far more attractive and much better in bed than you. Six times!
I`m not sure I should continue with that analogy. But as much as you want the memories to go away, they keep coming back, complete with the cold sweats and screaming!
Loan striker John Akinde`s return lasted less than forty minutes and any attacking threat went limping down the tunnel with him. By that time we were already two goals down and with a centre-back pairing of Luke Oliver and Michael Duberry the second half saw the kind of carnage more associated with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as we were sliced open again and again (and again). It came inside the first month of Gary Waddock`s reign and it fully illustrated the size of the task that loomed before him. It proved to be a mountain we were unable to climb.
We have only faced Town on their own patch four times yet it is something of a modern day phenomenon that two of them have been beamed live on TV. The first to be shown was back on September 2nd 2001, the day after England`s 5-1 demolition of Germany in Munich. It was chosen for coverage by the ill-fated ITV digital and this insane puppy went to the game despite it kicking-off at 6.15pm on a bleeding Sunday.
Striker Gavin Holligan gave the Blues, well oranges on this occasion, the lead after a quarter of an hour, notching his first ever goal for the club. Sadly Yankee-doodle-dandy John Thorrington belted an equaliser past Martin Taylor to level before half-time. Huddersfield won it with twenty minutes remaining with the record books recording it as a Steve Brown headed own-goal, but I am sure they are mistaken.
The best thing to come out of the game was the pants-soakingly funny cartoon match report from the HTFC World website (don`t believe me? - try this for size and prepare to change your pants). We returned fourteen months later and played our part in a drab goal-less draw. The incident of note was the sending off of disco Danny Senda.
For this particular wallow in bygone days I have saved the best for last. Our first ever meeting with Huddersfield came in August 1994. It was only our second ever game in the third tier of English football and was the first home game in the Terriers brand new Kirklees Stadium. Wycombe were chucked a few crumbs and just 300 away fans were amongst the excitable but hostile 13,334 crowd.
Martin O`Neill fielded the following eleven heroes - Paul Hyde, Jason Cousins, Steve Brown, Glyn Creaser, Terry Evans, Keith Ryan, Dave Carroll, Steve Thompson, Simon Stapleton, Cyrille Regis and Simon Garner. It proved to be one of only two league starts for Glyn (can you name the other one trivia fans?).
The hosts were managed at the time by Colin* (work it out) and he was up to his usual antics. He had built a powerful side and the Blues, well yellows on this occasion, had to defend for their lives. As was usually the case under O`Neill, that is exactly what they did. Even when the hosts pierced our back-line, Paul Hyde was in imperious form between the sticks to keep them at bay.
Three minutes before half-time Super Simon Garner took possession out on the right and cut in to the middle of the park. He played a wall-pass with Keith Ryan and ran towards the edge of the area before unleashing a left-footed shot that hit the inside of the left-hand post before nestling in the back of the net.
We survived the second half onslaught and the South Bucks throng in the corner celebrated the capture of three points at the final whistle. In our next away game ten days later we won 1-0 at Birmingham City. It`s a wonder our brains didn`t burst!
"All that`s left are memories"
Date:Friday August 26 2011
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Stats: Wycombe Wanderers v Southend United (Saturday December 13 2014)
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The Opposition View - AFC Wimbledon (Sunday December 7 2014)
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Stats: Wycombe Wanderers v AFC Wimbledon (Sunday December 7 2014)
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