There are places I remember,
All my life, though some have changed,
Some for ever not for better,
Some have gone, and some remain.
Huddersfield Town will face 17 new opponents next season, as well as the two they followed up from the Championship.
They will visit a whole host of top level stadia, travelling to England’s finest and, in some cases, Europe’s finest.
It is not so very long ago since I was hopping off a tube train at Becontree and forced to buy a samosa because the nearest place I could find to wee was an Indian restaurant. That was on the way to Dagenham & Redbridge, for a league game.
There was no away ticket priority that night, but it has had to be brought in in this season that away tickets can be expected to be in short supply. I have my eye on a couple for Watford, but I doubt I’ll be troubling the ballot otherwise.
Meanwhile, there have been other visits to other clubs that seem a million miles away now; to Kidderminster, to Chester, to Hereford, to Rushden and Diamonds – all league games, all within my time watching the club; Chester was my first ever away game.
The club are doing a pre-season refresher course of some of these memories, visiting Accrington, Bury and Barnsley, the sites of some truly humiliating defeats over the years, in pre-season.
A 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Accrington was the first time I saw Town on TV after leaving the Huddersfield.
The most recent trip to Bury saw the Terriers spaff away a three goal lead after half an hour to draw 3-3, and that doesn’t even touch the sides of the 6-0 defeat.
Oakwell, oh, Oakwell. How we suffered on your open bank. How we laughed when Delroy Facey scored the final, and our only, goal of a 7-1 larrupping in the pissing South Yorkshire rain despite being clearly offside.
(It affected me, that defeat – I was going to use the below as the image for this, until I realised it was too small. Barnsley does thing to a fan)
Vanquishing the ghosts of seasons past? Perhaps not, but at least offering them a cursory wave. These memories never lose their meaning, despite the something new.
Yet, alongside this list of Blundell Parks, Twerton Parks and Plainmoors, I have also seen Huddersfield Town play at Selhurst Park, where they will open the season, for a league game.
I’ve seen them at the Hawthorns, and the Britannia Stadium, I’ve been to Vicarage Road – all league games. I’ve not been to the Liberty Stadium, but others have, both when they thought it might remain the White Rock and after it was definitely the Liberty. Hell, we won a playoff tie against Bournemouth that self same season that I went for a wee in Becontree.
Sure, it’s been ages since Town visited Old Trafford for a league game, or Anfield, but there’s precedent there, and a lot of it, that clubs like Huddersfield Town, that have shared a pitch, a division and a season with Huddersfield in the past, can become established in the top flight.
It is too late for those who wanted to see Town at White Hart Lane to complete the set, one has to feel for these hardy veterans, those who have put hours in travelling to places as far afield as Gillingham, Hartlepool, Newport and Torquay.
There are also games that will be seen as big because of their setting in the Premier League, but let’s not pretend that all the clubs they will be facing are behemoths; there have been seasons when a Huddersfield Town v West Brom game drew a smaller crowd than Peterborough, Leyton Orient and Torquay’s visits to West Yorkshire.
The point I am making is that a great many of the teams Huddersfield will face next season have been in the position the Terriers will find themselves in, recently. They have been the new boys, the unfancied, the favourites for relegation. They have all survived, at least most recently, else Town would not be playing them.
There is more than a small part of me that misses Prenton Park, Victoria Park and Field Mill. Yet they will still be there when the current adventure is over – or some of them assured will be; be it one year, ten years or fifty years. All these places have their moments.
In that, at least, there is nothing to fear. Go toe to toe with Burnley, lads, for they are but a footstep ahead of you, for you could be them and more tomorrow. Do the same with Stoke, boys, for next time it might be Oxford trying to bloody your noses.