As we get used to watching Town lose every week it’s hard to remember that things could have been different this season. Recruitment let us down last summer of course, but in spite of that we could still have been going into this weekend’s game against Manchester United in a very different mood.
With that in mind we’ve decided to look back at 5 moments this season that helped to seal our fate. If you think we’ve missed any huge moments log-in and add yours at the bottom of the article.
1. Saturday 25th August: Huddersfield Town 0 Cardiff City 0
Not content with seeing Town play Everton, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final four fixtures of last season, the fixture computer threw up a nightmare start to the new season for David Wagner’s team.
Chelsea were Town’s first opponents, running out 3-0 winners in West Yorkshire and things got worse when The Terriers travelled to The Empty-Had. City tore Town apart that day as they romped to a 6-1 victory.
That tough start prompted David Wagner and the club’s marketing machine to pinpoint the next fixture at home to Cardiff as the ‘start of the season’. A boring game was punctuated by the dismissal of Jonathan Hogg in the 63rd minute after he literally went head-to-head with Harry Arter.
The final half hour of the game saw waves of Cardiff attacks which culminated in an inexplicable miss from former Town man Sean Morrison. There was a feeling of deflation in the stadium after the game.
Our season was supposed to start against newly-promoted Cardiff, instead it nearly imploded with Town fortunate to grab a point. That result was an early-marker of what was to come for Town fans.
2. Saturday 20th October: Huddersfield Town 0 Liverpool 1
Town went into this game searching for their first home league goal of the season as well as their first win of the campaign. 3 points from the previous 8 league games did not make for good reading but as fans, we knew that Town had been unlucky in a lot of those games and so it proved to be the case once again in this game.
Mo Salah scored the only goal of the game when he slotted home from a tight angle for the visitors. What was more remarkable was that Salah’s goal was Liverpool’s only shot on goal in the entire 90 minutes.
At the other end of the pitch Alex Pritchard had a goal ruled out for offside, which on second-look seemed to be onside. James Milner then handled in the penalty area for Liverpool prompting referee Michael Oliver to award...nothing.
In the dying embers of the game a bouncing ball in the box was claimed by Steve Mounie 8 yards from goal. His first-time effort ended up in Row Z of the stands and Town lost the game. In his post-match comments Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that his side were lucky to win the game.
The cumulative effect of consistently being unlucky seemed to tell the following week as Town played terribly in a 3-0 defeat at Vicarage Road. When Huddersfield played well it seemed that the footballing Gods conspired against them and when they played poorly, they were punished ruthlessly.
As a fan I found that thoroughly demoralising and it must have been even worse for the players as they consistently had nothing to show for their hard work.
3. Saturday 1st December: Huddersfield Town 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2
After beating Wolves 2-0 away the previous weekend fans and players alike were bursting with confidence ahead of this game. Zanka raised the roof after just 54 seconds when he headed Town into the lead against visiting Brighton.
The ‘Gulls showed next to no ambition in the following half hour and it seemed certain that Town would score again and seal the victory. That narrative wasn’t to the liking of referee Michael Oliver though as he decided to steal the spotlight in the 32nd minute.
Oliver showed Steve Mounie a straight red after nothing more than a coming together, dismissing the Beninese striker for a ‘dangerous challenge’. Making an error like that may have forced another referee to ‘even things up’, but Oliver is immune to those type of human feelings.
Instead he decided to deny Town a penalty when Alex Pritchard was forcefully manhandled in the box – a stonewall penalty. After that Oliver awarded Leon Balogun a yellow card for a worse challenge than the one that Steve Mounie had committed.
Brighton couldn’t believe their luck and went on to win the game 2 goals to 1. Had Michael Oliver not been so generous it’s unlikely that they would have avoided defeat let alone won the game.
An opportunity for Town to register 10 points from 12 was cruelly taken away from them as well as their first choice striker, who was suspended for 3 games. In just 2 games Michael Oliver had denied Town of 6 points, which would have been enormous for the side.
4. Saturday 12th January: Cardiff City 0 Huddersfield Town 0
Going into this game Town had been on an 8 game losing run that had started with the defeat at home to Brighton. Prior to this fixture Town had lost 1-0 to Fulham in the dying moments of the game – realistically condemning the team to the relegation scrapheap.
This away game at Cardiff was effectively last chance saloon for Huddersfield and they had to win. After a dour first-half the visitors dominated the second period whilst Cardiff defended doggedly.
In the 76th minute Town seemed to have broken down their opponents when Lee Mason awarded a penalty for a rash challenge on Florent Hadergjonaj in the box. After much consternation Mason approached his linesman and decided to overturn his decision.
It was a baffling decision from a seasoned official and ensured that Town failed to win their ‘must-win’ game. Ultimately it was enough to see of David Wagner who resigned shortly after the result, weary and beaten down by the previous 6 months of football.
Speaking after the match Cardiff manager Neil Warnock (anagram of Colin Wanker) said;
“Thankfully the linesman was alert to overturn the penalty, we thought ours was a certain penalty on Hoilett.”
A few months later Colin Wanker’s side were on the other side of an overturned penalty away to Burnley which prompted the following response from Colin;
“My lads should have surrounded the referee really. Can I say I’m lost for words? It’s baffling really.”
To recap both overturned penalties were incorrectly overturned and the original decisions should have stood. It’s interesting to note how Colin Wanker responded to both of those decisions though.
5. Saturday 16th March: West Ham United 4 Huddersfield Town 3
In the grand scheme of things victory in this game would not have done much for Town’s hopes of escaping relegation. We do think however that this game will prove decisive in the short tenure of Jan Siewert.
Town’s new coach had witnessed some pretty poor performances from his players preceding this game. Yet after 65 minutes in the Olympic Stadium he was full of cheer after seeing his team race into a 3-1 lead courtesy of some excellent play that had clearly come straight from the training ground.
With 15 minutes to go Town were still leading 3-1 and looking comfortable. Somehow 15 minutes later The Terriers had conspired to lose the game 4-3 courtesy of some of the worst defending I have ever witnessed.
Any remote hopes of a new manager bounce or a good run of form to finish the season ended there and then. Siewert’s relations with a number of first-team players also suffered to the point where exiled Phil Billing was voted players’ player of the year at the end of season awards.
Siewert’s angry response to what he had seen at the Olympic Stadium was understandable. In fact it was the response that any of us would have given if we were the manager, but in hindsight it was perhaps the moment that Siewert lost the dressing room.