Huddersfield Town achieved the impossible dream in 2017 with promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs. On Sunday May 29 the Terriers will be looking for history to repeat itself when they take on Nottingham Forest at Wembley in the Championship Play-off Final, the richest game in world domestic football.
Town fan and Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES spoke to fellow Terriers to get their thoughts on making it to Wembley once again and what the club needs to do differently this time around if promotion is secured.
Here are seven lessons to be learned from five years ago
Former Huddersfield Examiner sports editor Mel Booth believes recruitment is a key factor if Town go up.
He said: “Everything revolves around recruitment. The club has done brilliantly to assemble this squad with a string of free transfers and loans and similar work could prove fruitful should they go up, rather than over stretching for the sake of it.”
Meanwhile And He Takes That Chance Podcast host and regular guest on BBC Radio Leeds Richard Kosmala insists adding pace to the team and keeping hold of Lewis O’Brien is a must if Town go up.
He said: “Going up scares me a little as Norwich, who I thought were one of the best promoted sides we have seen in our division last season, have stunk the Premier League out this time!
“The biggest one for me is pace. We aren’t blessed with this and for me in the Premier League you have to have that in abundance.
“We need to keep Lewis O’Brien too, a player who will only get better I think in the top flight. You’d like to think promotion would keep him there but it didn’t for Buendia at Norwich and money talks.”
Well-known Town fan Oli Fisher says that not losing the club’s identity has to be a lesson learned from last time.
He said: “The first thing is not to abandon our identity. It sounds cliched but when you consider in the first Premier League season we defied expectations and stayed up because of smart recruitment, and then the second season didn’t go to plan because we bought the wrong players. It leaves you thinking we need to trust in what we are doing currently which is having a good identity.”
3 ENJOY IT MORE
Former Town employee Stef Maynard says the club mustn’t lose sight of the fans amid the Premier League riches and hype.
She said: “We have to enjoy it more! This time we know what it’s all about. We shouldn’t be intimidated or overly respectful of other Premier League clubs.
“We will have earned our right to be there. I think it was easy last time to get carried away and forget about the fans a bit. The focus was on the big money players but we need to remember that it’s the fans that go week in week out regardless of what league we’re in.”
4. BE SMARTER WITH OFFICIALS
Club stalwart fan Graham Clark wants to see more consistency from match officials if Town get to the promised land.
He said: “I want to see better decisions by match officials. From the very moment when Mounie was sent off at home to Brighton to the change of mind by Lee Mason at Cardiff, those sorts of decisions were commonplace, week in week out.”
5. STICK WITH CARLOS COME WHAT MAY
Over on the Town social podcast host Ian Kilroy believes the club should stick with Carlos Corberan come what may. “Stick with Carlos even if things go poorly,” he said. “It’s a system which has worked with specific players, so trust the manager who’s designed it to get the best out of the players.”
6. STABILITY AT THE TOP
Town’s horrendous second season in the Premier League was compounded by chairman Dean Hoyle facing serious health problems. Dean is back to full health and back at the helm as interim chief executive and fan Graham Clark believes stability at the top will also help Town if they make the step up.
Graham said: “Things fell apart when Dean wasn’t at the club full time.” An experienced chief executive is surely on Dean’s shopping list.
7. KEEP THE FIGHTING SPIRIT – THIS GROUP ARE SPECIAL
Every successful Town team has had a fighting spirit about them. If this team is successful and does get promoted the last thing we need to do is break the team spirit.
Mel Booth said: “There is a fantastic spirit and commitment in the whole squad and they not only thoroughly deserved to finish third, but they deserve this shot at promotion.”
Richard Kosmala added: “Wow, my love for this team put together for £2.5m is strong!! I love the fact this team have the values I want to see. Selfless individuals who would do anything for us. So many heroes no matter what happens at Wembley.”
Stef Maynard also was keen to add her thoughts on this, saying she feels she has her club back. She said: “The family feel is back. It reminds me of teams going back a few years where you just knew everyone cared about the club and it wasn’t just a wage packet for them. They never give up and define exactly what we are as a club.”
The Town supporter group Proud Terriers insists this group of players are special. They said: “This team is a truly special group, they really are.
“What they have achieved this season is truly fairytale stuff. Everyone works so hard for each other and fights for the shirt. The passion, togetherness and team spirit is for all to see.”
Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association member Phillip Ross said: “We are excited with a realistic view that’s it’s going to be a very tough game but that a single match could easily go either way.
“We have over-achieved from what was expected but their togetherness and team spirit has made the difference. That makes us proud to be Town fans again.”
WEMBLEY AGAIN – WE CAN DO IT
The sense of anticipation and excitement is building now as Town take on a Forest side which are the bookies’ favourites to return to the Premier League for the first time since 1999.
Town like being the underdogs and looking back to 2017, Richard Kosmala is hoping to see similar scenes of celebration in Huddersfield come nightfall on May 29 2022.
He said: “I’m still in disbelief really about getting to Wembley. I felt expectations were higher in the Wagner season with the recruitment and especially as we hit the ground running early on then.
“But after we’d lost at home to Middlesbrough this season I thought we would slide to what most of us would have taken – a nice quiet calm midtable season. However we don’t do those at Town, do we!?
“The scenes after the game in the stadium and in the bars in the centre will live long in the memory. Let’s hope for more of the same come May 29.”
Huddersfield Town Women chair Alison Bamforth is very excited about the Terriers’ prospects of going back to the Premier League.
She said: “After starting the season among the favourites for relegation (as usual!) it’s an amazing achievement to get to Wembley (again!)
“I had no voice left after the Luton match, and hearing and seeing Huddersfield Town on the national news the morning after was brilliant for the club and the town.
“After a challenging 2020-21 season, it’s been a remarkable turnaround. There’s a great buzz around the club, buoyed by the return of Dean Hoyle, and I can’t wait to round the season off in style at Wembley.”
Huddersfield Hub photographer Sean Doyle, another lifelong Town fan, added: “I am over the moon and never expected to be seeing this considering how the season started.
“I did not expect to be banging on the Premier League door again in my lifetime having waited so long the first time. I have been going down to watch Town since 1978.”
Town may be underdogs but the Terrier Spirit on the pitch and in the stands is a powerful thing. See you at Wembley! UTT.