Sometimes, even as a Huddersfield Town fan, life throws up dream situations. Heading into three fixtures in eight days, which included a trip to Rochdale in the FA Cup and home games against two promotion rivals, you got the feeling it was going to be a crucial week for David Wagner’s men.
Like supporters do we backed them all the way, starting with the short trip across the Pennines to face the Dale at Spotland. A tricky fixture on paper with the tremendous home form of our opponents, but thanks to our fans we made it like a home game, something the players were keen to comment on after the game.
After a scrappy opening 40 minutes Town broke the deadlock at the right time; new boy Collin Quaner with a dream debut goal, something to lift the travelling support moments before the break. From then on Wagner’s side made light work of their League One opponents, something notable in the stands as the mood went from slight apprehension to a full-blown party atmosphere.
There was something about the trip to Rochdale that was a pleasant reminder of a by-gone era. As mentioned after the Burton game, I have a liking for intimate stadiums as they tend to bring out the best in the game. Everything feels so close and you really do get the illusion of being almost on top of the game, something that helps contribute to the noise.
Back to Championship action and Town had the tough task of hosting league-leaders Brighton and Hove Albion at the John Smiths Stadium. Night matches in terms of atmosphere are ones which can tend to go either way, as could the contest on the field, but there was no way we were going to be let down by our team.
With displays planned for the Leeds and Newcastle games (both on Sky), we decided to keep things simple in terms of visuals in the stand. Laying out flags may seem like a fairly basic approach to take, but it creates a very effective and aesthetically pleasing show of our support for the team – similar in many ways to German fan culture.
A barnstorming first half saw Town go in at the break 3-1 up thanks to goals from Tommy Smith, Nahki Wells and Elias Kachunga, leaving many people claiming at half time that it was the best 45 minutes they’d ever seen from a Terriers’ side. In truth, it was for that reason that the stadium came alive. The noisy, unrelenting and vociferous support of a team which gave us so much to cheer about, live on Sky Sports for the whole country to see, was a perfect way to christen the newly named “Cowshed”.
Walking away from the Town ground after playing the Championship leaders off the pitch whilst simultaneously knowing you did your bit to support the team is an incredible feeling, and one that everybody in the South Stand that night could possess. It was another hugely positive step in what has been a wonderful journey so far.
Such is the nature of football however that basking in success and glory is not an option, as three days later we welcomed our neighbours Leeds United to the JSS. It seems like every week we say that a fixture is our most important of the season so far, but this one really did feel like the proverbial ‘six-pointer’. A lunchtime kick-off live on Sky (the last of which we won I fail to remember) did not do much to calm pre-match nerves, and fears of a flat atmosphere were shared amongst the contingent behind the goal.
Complete with a display revealing our identity and a banner portraying our devotion to the cause, we were ready. The preparation had all come down to this moment: the hard hours painting, arriving at the ground over two hours before kick off to plan the choreography; we finally had the South Stand against our biggest rivals and it was important not to slip-up on another chance to impress off the field.
A first half goal from Izzy Brown brought this colourful fixture to life; an explosion of noise representing sheer joy but also relief as Town had once again got the all-important first goal.
This fixture did mean more than others due to the proximity of the teams, the bragging rights and the added spice of it being two promotion contenders, so when Chris Wood equalised before the break the nerves set in again. That is when it is most important to back the team; we have heard the players talk about the effect of the supporters, and in derby matches it is just as important if not more so.
Just as the game looked to be heading for a draw, that man scored that goal to spark jubilant scenes around almost all of the ground except for one unusually quiet contingent of travelling Leeds fans. A just reward for another dominant performance, but the manner in which the three points were secured is something we will never forget.
If I could, I’d go back to that moment and replay it all day long. The players celebrating in front of the South Stand at the end, Elias coming over to the masses, Izzy and Tommy Smith throwing their shirts into the crowd, the clear sense of hype after the skirmish at the end, it all shows that we are one.
A lot of people claim they have never head the Town ground like that; those last four minutes of added time with the whole stadium stood holding their breath in expectant fashion, and when the whistle went it was a release of pure ecstasy.
This could be my favourite week as a Town fan in living memory and it may be the same for many others too. The moments keep on being created, the journey gets more and more magical, and now we look ahead to the crucial visits of Newcastle and Reading, when we must all be ready and willing to back the team again. After all, it’s what they thoroughly deserve.