🕵️‍♂️ Football League Focus: Huddersfield Town

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Alex Mott

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Welcome to our latest series here at OneFootball where we’re shining a light on one Football League club each week.

It’s our chance to go in-depth on sides that don’t normally attract our attention and hold up a magnifying glass to the plethora of brilliant stories outside the Premier League.

So far we have looked at:

This week it’s the turn of former English champions: Huddersfield.

Can you tell me a bit about the club?

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One of English football’s grand old clubs, Huddersfield celebrated their 112th birthday in 2020 with the side in something of a rut.

Their recent history has been one of the great underdog tails of recent years, reaching the Premier League for the first time in 2017 and beating the likes of Manchester United and Newcastle in the process.

That promotion back to the top flight was the Terriers first time amongst the big boys since 1972 and harked back to an age further in time when the west Yorkshire outfit were the best team in England, and potentially the most forward-thinking in Europe.

A club who rose to the highest point in English football, creating history along the way, to almost falling out of the pyramid entirely.

It’s never boring at Huddersfield.

Any great moments from their history?

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It really has been a case of feast of famine for Huddersfield during their 112 years of existence.

The club almost went out of business just 10 years after they were formed in 1919, having racked up £25,000 in debt (£1.6m in today’s money) the club chairman, John Hilton Crowther, proposed a potential merger with Yorkshire rivals Leeds.

That plan galvanised support and a first-of-its-kind share scheme was introduced.

For £1 you could own a piece of the Terriers, which is exactly what thousands of fans did, saving the side and bringing life back to the club.

It clearly injected some momentum into Huddersfield as just a year later, having stayed in the town, they were promoted to the First Division for the first time and reached the 1920 FA Cup final, losing to Aston Villa.

The heartbreak would prove to be the catalyst for something monumental though, as it was during that off-season that Huddersfield hired Herbert Chapman as their manager.

Chapman would go on to totally revolutionise, not just football in Huddersfield, but football in England, bringing in better training methods and becoming the first coach to realise the importance of diet and hydration.

It wasn’t just off the pitch though that Chapman was ahead of his time. According to the FA, the Huddersfield boss has a claim to have invented the counter-attack as a style of play and was the father of the WM formation.

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With it, Chapman won the 1922 FA Cup as Huddersfield beat Preston in the final and a year later won the First Division by the closet margin in its entire history – 0.024 on goal average from Cardiff City.

Huddersfield would defend their championship a year later, losing just one game all campaign and conceded only 28 goals, the lowest total for a season in the league’s history up to that point.

After feeling there were no more worlds left to conquer in west Yorkshire, Chapman left for Arsenal but the Terriers kept on winning and made more history in 1925/26 when they won their third straight First Division crown under new boss Cecil Potter.

That sustained period of success couldn’t last though, and despite reaching three more FA Cup finals in the 1920s and 30s, it wasn’t until 1969/70 that Huddersfield would finally taste more success.

That came in the shape of the Second Division title, which they won by seven points from Blackpool

In more recent times, they claimed their place in the Premier League for the very first time after beating Reading on penalties in the 2017 Play-Off final.

And surely there must be some lows as well?

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It was a slow decline after Chapman left for Arsenal, with the Terriers staying in the top flight fairly consistently until 1951 when they were relegated for the first time in their history.

Huddersfield were about as solidly Second Division as you could get in the 1960s but ended the decade with a promotion to the top-flight thanks to Frank Worthington’s 18 goals.

That however, was about as good as it got for Huddersfield for near on 40 years.

Despite staying in the First Division in 1971/72, they were relegated the next season and were then one of only four clubs to have suffered successive relegations – to the Third Division and then to the Fourth Division.

Some blamed the fact there was six managers in four years, other blamed the dire financial situation the club was in. But whatever was at fault for their faltering performances, by 1978 they were at the lowest league position in their entire history.

In more recent time, there have been play-off heartbreaks in League One and the Championship, and their last Premier League campaign in 2018/19 saw them win just three games all campaign long.

Who are the club legends?

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Herbert Chapman is the club’s greatest manager, leading Huddersfield to two First Division titles.

George Brown scored 142 league goals during his time with the Terriers, still a club record to this day.

Billy Smith is still the record appearance-maker for Huddersfield and the captain of that First Division-winning machine.

What about the current squad? Any players to look out for?

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Karlan Grant is undoubtedly the club’s current star having scored 23 goals in 58 appearances since his move from Charlton in 2019. The 23-year-old has more than proved himself in the Championship and has already earned admiring glances from sides further up the division.

The 21-year-old midfielder Lewis O’Brien is another to look out for. This box-to-box midfielder was named Huddersfield’s Player of the Season last time out and has continued that fine form into this campaign too.

Is the manager any good?

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Carlos Corberán replaced Danny Cowley as head coach over the summer and was thrown right into the deep in his first job in English football.

The Huddersfield hierarchy were hoping that his left-field appointment could have the same galvanising effect that David Wagner had back in November 2015, seeing as Corberán has previously worked alongside Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds.

The results are yet to be seen.

Finally, how are things looking this season?

Not the best. Just one win in five has already heaped pressure on the Terriers and their tough start to the Championship gets even trickier over the next few weeks as they face Swansea, Derby and Preston.