Let me take you back to January 2007, to a cold Friday night in Somerset. I had travelled to Yeovil by train and found my own way to Huish Park along with 5,553 other hardy souls. The game, unusually for that period, was live on Sky. There cannot have been more than a tenth of those who had similarly travelled from West Yorkshire.
It was not a happy time to be a Terrier, watching the once-proud side die a slow, grudging death of a season, tumbling out of all cups in the first round while Yeovil were closing in on the playoffs.
In context, it was little surprise that the Glovers took an early lead, Lee Morris netting after just four minutes. It was a Friday night, the journey had been interminably long and by the time substitute Aaron Hardy put through his own goal after just 36 minutes, the game was over.
Peter Jackson had been a good manager, but at that point he was not, not that the players he had at his disposal inspired much confidence.
- McCombe (Hardy)
The Town fans grew restless. “This is embarrassing, this is embarrassing” they sang to the tune of Verdi’s La Donna É Mobile. They were right.
This malaise turned quickly to anger, and the tune gave way to a more visceral shouting.
I went to a lot of games at that stage, and I don’t remember hearing fans as angry, perhaps ever.
“Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again!” they shouted.
“Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again!”.
I remember being a little taken aback at the time, looking around trying to work out who exactly was shouting, and trying to work out what they meant.
The rage with which they were shouting left it difficult to tell whether they truly believed it or instead thought that by stating it, they might start to do so.
That was an uncomfortable low ebb, and but it was equally unclear to me at that stage exactly what rising again would constitute.
To be above Yeovil? Perhaps, but the Somerset side were at their peak then, and Huddersfield have a right to aspire higher than that.
To be in the Championship? Almost certainly. It is the level I have always thought of Huddersfield’s natural home, but then I haven’t ever seen them higher.
To be in the Premier League? Inconceivable. Nobody who saw that game that night would expect to see either side in the Premier League. Town were atrocious, and Yeovil were barely pushed in beating them.
‘Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again’, they urged, but it felt like they would sink further before they did so.
The games was hopeless. We stayed, but maybe only because there’s not a lot else to do. Huish Park is in the middle of nowhere, and a long way from any of Yeovil’s two railway stations. I was heading to Exeter after the game, and that ended up being a lot further than I expected.
During the second half, Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored a peach of a chip. We hoped briefly, hoped maybe that was the spark, maybe that was the start of the rise. It wasn’t. The game ended 3-1, a gentle evisceration that hurt for days.
I don’t think about that game often. It is neither the worst performance I’ve seen or the most pathetic defeat. It might be in the top twenty, but I’m not going to start ranking those, no good comes down that road.
However, I do think about those angry fans often now. I wonder where they are, and whether they are happy.
I wonder what they made of the fact that Huddersfield Town did rise, year on year on year on year, almost immediately after that game, before a single falter brought in David Wagner.
I’ve heard “Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again” being shouted since then, more regularly than you might think.
Each time I wonder at the rage behind it.
I wonder, too, whether Dean Hoyle was at Yeovil, and shared first the embarrassment and then the anger, resolving to make Huddersfield Town rise again as he did so.
“Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again!” they shouted, and there were more years of hardship to come, even if 2007 was perhaps the last year of that League One penance.
That season, having fizzled out before it barely started was the last one as a League One also-ran. From then on, it was a Huddersfield Town who would be promoted soon.
It took time. It took patience. It took playoffs and it took penalties. Huddersfield Town fucking rose again after years of trying, and crushing failures at Millwall and Old Trafford.
Yet those seasons were enjoyable even if their denouements were causes for soul-searching. There were spectacular, giddy wins from a team who scored freely and equally, stodgy impassive structure from a side that went 43 games unbeaten.
“Huddersfield Town will fucking rise again!”
They did rise, they did it slowly, like gently kneaded bread left overnight, but they did. Having risen once, they continued to rise in the Championship. I thought, when Christopher Schindler scored his penalty at Wembley, that it was the end of the story – Huddersfield Town had risen.
I suspect the shouting will be quieter next season, the anger capped. However, should it become a long and trying one, with relegation approaching over the horizon, I would warrant those six words will make a re-appearance.
And still I will wonder where Huddersfield Town are rising to, and what would count as completion. For me, I’ll think back to Yeovil that Friday night ten years ago, a world away. That’s enough for me.