Almost exactly a year ago, Huddersfield Town rolled up to Elland Road confident of easy pickings against a Leeds United side traumatised by the events of “Black Friday” – the eve of the local derby when a new owner-in-waiting sacked the manager and all of a sudden moves were afoot among the media to get our captain to declare he wanted out.
Bad times, as anyone would agree. Could the Whites bounce back and do a job on their mad-keen neighbours Huddersfield? For lowly Town, this was always one of the big fixtures – their fans demanded a victory over the Goliath from the big city. At first all seemed well for the minnows – they were ahead and, in one corner of the stadium their small pack of fans yapped and barked gleefully, prominent among the songs being a taunt about Captain McCormack not wanting to play for Leeds.
Prescient as that appears now, at the time it was a joke too far and McCormack, with the help of his team-mates in white, rammed the quip back down those doggy throats as the Terriers were eclipsed 5-1 in a stunning comeback. McCormack scored three, and it was a silent and bedraggled pack of hounds that sloped off back to their kennels that night.
Poor Huddersfield fared no better on their next visit to Elland Road, earlier this season, when Leeds put three past them without reply and could easily have had more. Again, the away support was silenced early as Rudy Austin slammed home an opener in front of the South Stand. Then Bellusci struck a sublime chip against the Town bar, the rebound dispatched firmly by Antenucci – and it was Antenucci again to complete the scoring after the interval. For me, the day was embellished by corporate hospitality and selfies with Terry Yorath and Massimo Cellino himself. It was a particularly good day for Leeds – but for Town it was their second Cup Final trouncing in just a few months. Surely, things could only get better for our canine friends?
Sadly for dog-lovers everywhere, today illustrated the fact that there has been no improvement in the fortunes of West Yorkshire’s poor relations – dogged though their efforts may be, they are seemingly doomed to failure. At their Meccano stadium, Town must have been hoping it would be third time lucky after two fruitless trips to Elland Road. But Leeds set about them early, hounding the poor pups for every ball, and were soon rewarded with a neat finish from Sam Byram to give the visitors the lead.
Town rallied, scoring from a corner before the interval and it was a fairly scruffy battle in the second half, decided late on when sub Billy Sharp hurled himself at a cross ball to bury his header in the Huddersfield net. With time about up, it seemed a certain winner, but a nasty-looking injury to Town’s Tommy Smith delayed the end of the game as Leeds held out through an interminable period of added time. The final whistle eventually signalled United’s third successive victory over their humble neighbours and, with better news of the stricken Smith coming later on, the day had ended well for Leeds at least.
So, despite all that desperate doggy desire, despite those troublesome chips on Town shoulders where Leeds are concerned, it’s been business as usual today, with Leeds taking the spoils – and so, the poor dogs had none. These are bleak times for Town fans, for whom each season is all about whether they can possibly snatch a rare victory over Leeds. That’s gone for another year – so what now for the Huddersfield breed? Can they bounce back? Will their manager survive yet another Cup Final defeat? Will any of them watch the highlights on the BBC?
Never mind any of that. Leeds won. Again. So who really gives a toss?