2012, the year that will be remembered for marvellous sporting achievement, how a country apparently in drought can have its second wettest year on record and how a nation came together and finally managed to love itself again.
But forget the Olympic and Paralympic games, the damp squib of a Diamond Jubilee and the inability English footballer to take a penalty in a major tournament, 2012 was about Huddersfield Town’s return to the second tier of English football.
If you had told any Town fan in January that four months later they would be promoted via the play-offs with the then Leeds United boss in charge, they would have laughed in your face. But what a turn of events we witnessed in the first six weeks of the year. Below are the 10 key moments that made 2012 the year it was for Huddersfield Town.
1 – Antique Rhodeshow
Following the poor results and performances following the end of that unbeaten run, Town needed a big result, It came in front of the Sky cameras away at Wycombe. Five goals from Jordan Rhodes led “expert” Peter Beagrie to declare he was worth £2-3million, oh how wrong could you be.
2 – Sacking of Lee Clark
Three years, millions spent and a remarkable 44 players signed, yet Huddersfield Town still found themselves in League One. Town were in 4th when Clark was sacked after the 1-0 defeat to promotion rivals Sheffield United. A string of poor performances, a run of draws and drawing games from winning positions ultimately led to Clark’s sacking. The wider footballing world of Stan Collymore and Wayne Rooney commented on Clark sacking and Dean Hoyle’s “woeful decision” without knowing the full facts. In fact we still don’t and probably won’t know all the full facts, all we know is Hoyle lost faith in Clark and his decision was to be justified. Up yours Collymore.
3 – Grayson appointment
Two weeks after Leeds harshly sacked Simon Grayson, Dean Hoyle approached him to be the man to take us to the Championship. Both Town and Leeds had courted Neil Warnock but our former manager was sold on Bates’ lies, Thank god. Grayson had twice gained promotion from League One and has a record with getting the best from the players he had to work with, just what we needed. So what if he’s a Leeds fan.
4 – Automatic hope gone, Bury away
3-0 up after half an hour, looking comfortable and perhaps the Grayson revolution was starting to take hold. Wait, no, what’s that another lead chucked away? 3-3 and a devastating blow to what slim chances we had for automatic promotion, a poor run followed and suspicions of a psychological problem emerged. Was the Lee Clark way of ensuring you don’t lose games lodged firmly in the minds of our players, it seemed so.
5 – Franchise FC play-off away leg.
An indifferent start for Grayson meant it was play-off hell once again. However, the away leg was the performance that set up the path to Wembley. Well we needed the win as we still have never won a home game in the play-offs and the way we beat the MK Dons afforded us the defeat in the second leg. The fans didn’t half enjoy it too…. (I couldn’t resist)
6 – Penalty Hell; The play-off final.
On what would be the only weekend of summer any Brit would see at home this year, Town fans had to endure one of the worst 120 minutes of football Wembley will most likely host in a long time. Town had the better chances so my fears that our chance of winning the game had gone, especially when we missed our first three penalties, there I was back in my seat head in hand expecting the inevitable. Well that never came and we all know what happened next… apologies Sheffield United and Steve Simonsen. Care to relive it?
7 – Transfer wisdom
As I left Wembley I declared Town would need 10-12 players to truly compete in the Championship. For this I was laughed at by friends, well nine signings later and we still lack real depth in quality and will most likely bring in 2-3 players during the January transfer window. However, we have brought in good Championship players in the likes of Adam Clayton, Jermaine Beckford, James Vaughan and Joel Lynch, even if their recent form shows otherwise.
8 – Farewell Jordan Rhode$$$
Well it was inevitable, 40 goals in a season and someone was bound to stump up the £8million that Dean Hoyle put Rhodes’ head. But Blackburn, seriously Jordan? Sadly the money spoke as he more than trebled his wages to join the Venky revolution or should I say devolution, Jordan’s already played under four different “managers” at Ewood Park. It was a shame about the circumstances of his transfer and the timing of it, but with a guaranteed £8million for a player we payed £150k for how can we complain?
9 – Blackpool Magic
As I travelled to Blackpool on a horrible wet British day I expected a drubbing by a former Premier League club with a wealth of talent., well that didn’t happen. I should have known it was going to be a good day after a chance sighting of the now Dame Sarah Storey in Manchester, and boy would it be a good day. Three goals and a brilliant performance from the players and management took us into second in the Championship, lofty heights indeed. HIGHLIGHTS
10 – The worrying slump
November 10th, the last time Huddersfield Town picked up three points. Since then we have seen inept performances, baffling tactical decisions and the return of “hoofball”. The team looks jaded, lacks energy and intent and the lack of squad depth hasn’t helped. Luckily we already have a decent amount of points on the board, level on points with Bolton and only need four or five wins to secure our safety. The only problem is where will the next win come from?
So there it was, the wonderful year of 2012. What will 2013 hold for the terriers? Well hopefully retaining our Championship status and squad progression so that in a few years we may challenge for promotion or the play-offs. Right now a win and a few good players will do!