It’s Saturday morning and for the first time we face the prospect of football without our King, David Wagner.
I like most Terriers was shocked to hear of Wagner’s decision and I’m not going to lie to you this week has been tough. For whatever has been going on, on the pitch, David was our hero, a club legend, living, breathing and pacing the technical area. It’s not often any club can genuinely say they are living through an era of legend, stories we will tell our Grandchildren, that they couldn’t care less about.
Sadly now it’s over, but for those of us lucky enough to have lived through what has been described as the club’s greatest era since our thrice champions run way back in the early 20th century, we’ve been a part of something really special.
I say part of because what this unknown German did as manager went well beyond the miracles performed on the pitch, it sparked life into the fans, lifted a whole town, put Huddersfield on the map and gave us bragging rights not just over local losers Leeds, but the whole of Yorkshire.
We became a name on a global stage, friends from around the world would ask me about this salt and pepper German and his impact on our little club.
Now I’m sure a lot of you will remember the day our belief died, and died hard at Old Trafford on the end of a 3-0 play-off final defeat against Peterborough. Hastily printed t-shirts discarded on the ground #Believe.
It looked like we would be myred in the lower leagues forever. An epic play-off shoot-out at Wembley lifted us into the Championship but failed to ignite the club. HTAFC while still the team for me, was a distraction on a Saturday rather than a must view.
Floundering at the wrong end of the table in comes this unassuming and untested German manager, I don’t think anyone expected what came next…
Wagner brought something you don’t see often enough in football, a real desire from the manager to connect with the fans, and to emphasise to the players what and who they play for, the badge and the loyal army of Terriers in the stands.
Each and every Saturday afternoon when you pull on those iconic blue and white stripes you play for these rowdy Northern Bastards in the stands, give your all and play well and they will love you, have belief in your own skills, work hard and give your all every week and results will come.
And come they did welcoming in the German salute to the Town fans upon victory, creating a real connection and passion between the players on the pitch and the man in the stands. I for one hope this tradition continues for as long as the club stands. It’s real, it means everything to the fans, it allows the players to feel the noise, the passion and the love from the people who are the club.
Championship survival rapidly followed (Wagner’s first miracle) as did a much improved team and tactics for the 2016/17 season, new players arrived bonded with the fans and become heroes. Early in the season I would check the table in disbelief that my little team weere leading the promotion charge.
As usual though this didn’t last to when it mattered and we began to slide down the table, mainly not due to performances but lack of goals. (Sound familiar terriers?) As May approached our brief hope of an automatic promotion spot dissapeared.
I think we all resigned ourselves to another season in the Championship and we were all okay with that given the football and passion we’d seen across the year. Fate however and potentially some smart tactics from Wagner saw us scrape a place for a shot at the big time (while avoiding Fulham who had beaten us 9-1 on aggregate over the season.)
Somehow we made the final, and we all know what happened next, Schindler scored and it was a Heffing dream! Second miracle complete.
The Terriers hadn’t just been woken from their long slumber they’d woken up in the mood for a fight. The pride and passion in the stands, the joy in the town, the mile wide smiles we can still all conjour when thinking back to that May day, the interest from around the world as to who the fuck Huddersfield were and how they’d made it to the promised land, was exciting and intoxicating, little old Huddersfield eh!
I didn’t believe I would ever see my team in the Premier League but here we were. It was always going to be difficult, but with Wagner in charge we believed again, that we could compete even on the world’s biggest stage and we did, even heading the league for a couple of hours (I have this screenshot framed on my wall).
The season didn’t unfold the way we all expected, well until the end when we were locked in a relegation scrap. Not quite squeaky bum time though as that Depoitre goal as Stamford bridge saved our bacon and sent the travelling Terriers into raptures, I will remember being stood on row 1 next to the corner flag as the celebrations began, oh what a night!
It was better than Wembley! It was just better than anything I ever expected from my club. It was a bloody miracle. Number 3!
I’m going to leave it here, with the football as I always believe you should end on a high. But I want to reflect on the man himself. We all fell in love, (I defy any of you to tell me different) with this guy, German/American or whatever, he was a Terrier and an honorary Yorkshireman (I heard Southgate got a certificate or something for this for living in Harrogate, Wagner should have one too.)
We waited for his press conferences, wore t-shirts with his face and sound bites on them, we were smitten. After a while the results didn’t matter, what mattered was Wagner was our guy, we knew the reality of the situation and even relegation would not have pushed him over the edge.
The chairman agreed, David was the best thing to happen to our club in decades. However this misfiring ex-striker (He didn’t score many goals in his career either) exacerbated by a lack of goals from quality performances and hard work, decided to call it a day, much to the disbelief and sadness from the adoring town faithful.
For me it was far too soon, losing Wagner sucks more than relegation and we may still suffer both, but the strain was showing on David and apparently for his own sanity he needs to take a break from the rigours of football management. I won’t go into any of the behind the scenes rumors because, who knows.
I hope it was Wagner’s decision alone (but the rapid emptiness and market availability of his Huddersfield home suggests there is more to the story) as he had earned the right (on my behalf anyway) to make a few mistakes, to fail a little, and to be the man who put it all back together again next year. I hope he returns to Town one day, and we can do all of this again.
We move on though and prepare to play Man City under Mark Hudson, with no chance to say goodbye to our hero. I think this is the bit that hurts the most, while many managers slink away in a blacked out Range Rover, we want to say goodbye to ours, to thank him for the joy and pleasure he brought through results, the passion and pride he brought with his attitude and connection with the fans and the town. To slope off with only a parting letter feels unfinished.
So I have one request for Dean Hoyle and all at Huddersfield town. That for all our sakes you bring our David back for a round of applause and the send off he deserves. Beers are on us David. Deano I don’t know if you read this but if you stumble across it you know what to do.
Thank you for the memories David Wagner it’s been emotional. I have to stop now as I have some dust in my eyes, and someone is chopping onions nearby.
'Till next time keep the faith and UTT