Talk of the Town //
// A Huddersfield Town e-zine. Issue â€“ #0000 free
Welcome // Another international weekend, another weekend without Town. With no first team fixtures until next weekend’s trip to high-flying Leicester City, we have been left with a mixture of international dates, FA Cup qualifying games, and a severely depleted airing of the Football League Show. On Friday night, England pressed Montenegro for a deserved 4–1 victory, leaving Tuesday night’s match against Poland the only thing between us and next year’s World Cup. Meanwhile, two Town players represented their country, plus another sat on a bench in Cardiff. Speaking of Wales, I find it odd that Joel Lynch was regularly in the Welsh squad last season despite his poor form, yet now he’s playing the best football of his Town career and he can’t get a look in! As long as he keeps up the good work for Town, I suppose it shouldn’t bother me! Adam
// Published 14th October 2013 by Adam Drake. All views and opinions represented in this e-zine are entirely my own, written as a fan of Huddersfield Town Football Club, and are in no way representative of Huddersfield Town Football Club, nor any other club, association or company mentioned in further articles. www.adamdrake.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
In defence of Alex Smithies
Walking for Pounds
A Requiem for Terracing?
The Magic of the Cup
In defence of Alex Smithies // Alex Smithies is a player who should not need to be defended. At only 23 years of age, he has clocked c. 190 appearances for the Town first team, and now experiencing his second season at Championship level, he continues to learn and develop with every game.
Alex’s fumbling of a free kick to give Watford the lead last weekend was a bad mistake. But it was only a mistake. It is inevitable that some factions of Town’s support will put the blame for the loss on Alex’s shoulders. Sections of the Kilner Bank crowd began to jeer whenever Alex made comfortable saves later in the game. What some people fail to consider is that this mistake was just a miniscule incident in the match, and cannot be judged as the sole reason we lost. One might argue that Adam Hammill is equally at fault for Watford’s second goal, for it was his irresponsible challenge that gave away the free kick, or that it lies with our defence for not reacting quickly enough to the fumble. Or perhaps one should argue that the blame for the Watford loss is a shared responsibility. After all, would it not have been unfair to blame James Vaughan for missing his late penalty vs. Blackpool last month, effectively losing us 2 points?
“I don’t want to criticise Alex because he has been fantastic and the ball was spinning a lot, but we have gifted them both goals. We are learning as we go and I want to see more of what I saw during the first twenty minutes.” - Mark Robins, following the Watford game
The finest goalkeepers in the world make mistakes. A quick search on YouTube alerts me to some horrific clangers dropped by some great names – David Seaman lobbed in the 1995 Cup Winner’s Cup final, World Cup winner Fabien Barthez gifting two goals to Arsenal, and the infamous Peter Enckelman glancing Olof Mellberg’s throw-in into his own net. Massimo Taibi doesn’t bear referencing. And it isn’t only goalkeepers who are susceptible to errors. Granted, we’ve all seen David Dunn tripping over onto his arse countless times before, but have we not also seen Cristiano Ronaldo keel over after too many stepovers, and four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi missing a sitter while one-on-one with a keeper?
Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart has recently come under similar media scrutiny for a series of errors in goal for the Sky Blues. Many parallels can be drawn between Hart and Smithies. Both are still young – 23 and 26, respectively – at an age relatively early in a goalkeepers’ career, ages that some would describe as being ahead of their prime. But neither Smithies nor Hart is going to improve by being dropped, despite the pedigree of Ian Bennett providing his best challenge to Alex’s first team place. There are three other professional goalkeepers at the club waiting in Alex’s wings. Second choice Bennett recently turned 42, and has proven to be an excellent backup keeper during some of Alex’s most unfortunate injuries, but he can no longer be classed as the first-choice future at Town. Academy graduates Lloyd Allinson and Ed Wilczynski are also hoping to follow Smithies into first team duty, but are at a much earlier development stage in their careers, and mounting a challenge to Alex’s number one jersey will require much progress. In time, they may be capable of pushing Smithies for a start, and as Academy graduates they are the future of the club, much as Alex was when he made his début back in 2007. But Smithies is now the present of our club, and needs to play. As long as Alex keeps his chin up and plays with absolute confidence (as the whole team should), there should be zero threat of him losing his starting place, contrary to the wishes of some of Town’s harshest critics. There’s an oft-used phrase in football that “form is temporary, but class is permanent.” Alex has consistently shown us on many occasions that he is more than capable of commanding the defensive line and keeping our goals conceded down to a minimum – Town currently have the joint4th best defence in the Championship, judging by this statistic. In late September, Alex signed a one-year contract extension that sees him tied to the club until 2016. We have to remember that Alex is still a young, developing goalkeeper with many years ahead of him. He will make mistakes, but for every error he does make, he will make many more match-winning saves.
Long may his reign as Huddersfield Town’s number one continue.
Walking for Pounds // Last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Watford was preceded by the club’s third annual Walk For Pounds charity event, in aid of Keep It Up, supporting both the club’s Academy and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Previous WFP events had seen Town fans walking from Huddersfield to both Bury and Barnsley. But this year, instead of walking to an away game, 175 fans walked from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s base at Leeds Bradford International Airport, taking a 19-mile journey through Bradford and Brighouse, culminating in a lap of honour at the John Smith’s Stadium before the Watford game. Since its inception in 2009, the Keep it Up campaign has raised close to one million pounds, mostly from the fundraising events that the club has organised, namely the adventurous crosscountry Pedal for Pounds events, and the aforementioned Walk for Pounds treks. When figures from this year’s Walk For Pounds are collected in November, officials at the club are hoping to pass the £1,000,000 fundraising total. I took part in this year’s event and managed to raise almost £200 for the cause. The generosity of people from in and outside of the club is staggering, and really made every step, and every ache worth it (and trust me, the climb from Brighouse up to Bradley Bar was not pretty!). Thank you to everyone who has raised money for, or donated money to Keep It Up over the past few years. With a bit of luck, the million pound mark may have been passed with this event, and we can look forward to the inevitable Pedal For Pounds 2014!
// A Requiem for Terracing? The introduction of the club’s new All Together Town initiative has set out to open new channels between the club and its supporters. Since regaining our shares in the John Smith’s Stadium, it is only inevitable that the topic of the ground’s “atmosphere” (or lack of) has reared it’s head once again – could this be the perfect opportunity to implement ‘safe standing’? We’re all aware of the ‘safe standing’ movement – backed by the Football Supporters’ Federation, championed in European leagues such as the German Bundesliga – but what chance do we have of seeing it being implemented at Town? With growing support from fans around the country, and from a number of high profile clubs, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace included, calls for the reintroduction of terraced areas to English football grounds have never been stronger. With the prospect of Town fans ever gaining the south stand as a home end diminished, the logical solution at the John Smith’s Stadium would be at the lower tier of the Fantastic Media stand. The semi-permanent structure that has occupied that space for a number of years is practical in that it can be dismantled for a ‘stage area’.
“Safety has brought football up to date but when you look at how standing is managed in the Bundesliga, then I’d be in favour of it.” - Dean Hoyle, speaking to Radio Leeds, 10/10/13
The chances of the stadium ever hosting a ma jor concert again are slim-tozero, and the new First Direct Arena in Leeds is surely a final mint-coloured, nail in that coffin. Now we are left with a bank of fading seats, resting on an almost temporary base in the home fans’ only end of the ground. If Dean Hoyle is serious about supporting the safe standing initiative, do we not now have ourselves a prime opportunity to put our names forward for it? Even if it doesn’t deliver the fabled “atmosphere” we’re craving, or live up to the nostalgic memories of the Leeds Road Cowshed, we could develop a new home end for our most passionate fans, and allow us to cheer on the lads attacking our end. As a club, we could consider ourselves pioneers of this new movement. And, if we’re lucky, it’ll stop some fans bloody moaning about it, too.
Loan Rangers // The international break may have hindered Town’s league progress for a week, but Town’s five players out on loan in the lower leagues had the chance to gain some valuable game time.
This week, Cristian López became the latest of Town’s development squad to take a temporary move away from the club in search of vital League experience, joining League One side Shrewsbury Town on a one month emergency loan, one day before Wolves’ Irish youth international Liam McAlinden also made the switch to Salop on a youth loan. Cristian lead the line in his first game – at home to Gillingham – alongside top scorer Marc Bradshaw, and lasted 74 minutes in a game that Shrewsbury dominated. With Salop 1–0 up and looking to close the game out, he was replaced by McAlinden, who in turn scored within minutes of his own début, making the final score 2–0 to Cristian’s new employers. In his post-match interview, manager Graham Taylor went on to say: “The contribution from our front men was exceptional - our new signings settled in and I’m confident they can go on and continue to make a contribution.” McAlinden’s début goal casts doubt on whether Cristian will start his next game in a week’s time, away at secondplaced Peterborough United.
Bury this week offered Town fans the opportunity to watch their home game against Morecambe for £10, giving Town fans the chance to see young Jordan Sinnott in action. The midfielder made his sixth league start for the Shakers, playing just over an hour in a 2–0 loss that leaves them one point from the relegation zone in League Two. James Spencer’s Scunthorpe United side, now captained by ex-Town stalwart Michael Collins, had their game against York City postponed due to international call-ups to three Iron players, extending Jimmy’s search for a first goal of his loan spell by a further week. Spending the ma jority of last season injured, he has now not scored a competitive goal since his loan spell at Cheltenham Town in the 2011–12 campaign. Due to the English Defence League march in Bradford city centre on Saturday afternoon, Tranmere Rovers’s match away at Valley Parade was put forward to Sunday. Both Chris Atkinson and Liam Ridehalgh played the full ninety minutes in Tranmere’s 1–0 victory, Atkinson going close to scoring his third goal of his loan spell in the first half, before Ryan Lowe settled the game. Outside of the Football League, goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson made another start and kept a clean sheet for Ilkeston FC, in dire conditions in their 1–0 home victory against Frickley Athletic. Lloyd’s Robins team are currently occupying 5th place in the EvoStik Northern Premier League, the league’s final play-off position.
Upcoming fixtures // Cristian López // Peterborough United vs. Shrewsbury Town Chris Atkinson & Liam Ridehalgh // Tranmere Rovers vs. Leyton Orient James Spencer // Scunthorpe United vs. Exeter City Jordan Sinnott // Portsmouth vs. Bury Lloyd Allinson // Blyth Spartans vs. Ilkeston 9
Norn Iron // Town’s Northern Irish internationals Oliver Norwood and Martin Paterson both started in the miserable 2–0 defeat in Azerbaijan on Friday night. Adopting a 3-5-2 formation (sound familiar, Town fans?) in the wake of last month’s defeat to Luxembourg, Paterson found himself paired with Derby County’s Jamie Ward up front, while Norwood was accompanied by Premiership duo Steven Davis and Chris Brunt in central midfield. Paterson displayed his trademark work ethic, holding up much of the play in Azerbaijan’s half and creating chances for Ward and Brunt. On several occasions, Pato had goalscoring opportunities himself – dragging one wide of the far post, having a decent attempt blocked by a defender, and most agonisingly, turning brilliantly on the ball in the box before firing a shot at the near post, a chance which would have drawn the game level at 1–1, had it been swerving the other way. Norwood had an uneventful game, summed up by the yellow card he gained in the second half for lunging at Rauf Aliyev, a booking which effectively ended his involvement in Northern Ireland’s doomed World Cup Qualifying campaign in this penultimate match, meaning he will miss Northern Ireland’s last fixture on Tuesday night. His dead ball game flattered to deceive. The game finished as a dreadful 2–0 loss for Northern Ireland. Azerbaijan’s second goal came from a last-minute free-kick given away by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans, whose desperate off-the-ball challenge on Aliyev earned him a red card and cost him a future international suspension. The Northern Ireland squad now travel from Baku to Tel Aviv to take on Israel in their final World Cup qualifier. Unless Luxembourg pull off an unlikely win away to Portugal, the green and white army are assured of a second-bottom placed finish in their group. // At the Cardiff City Stadium, Town’s Swansea City loanee Jazz Richards was an unused substitute in Wales’s 1–0 win over Macedonia. 10
// The Magic of the Cup With Town being gameless during the international break, I decided to attend one of the many FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round matches taking place on the Saturday afternoon, opting for the most local fixture, Bradford (Park Avenue) vs. Penrith AFC. The field at Avenue’s Horsfall Stadium is usually one of the first in the Conference North to fold when it comes to adverse weather conditions, and the blanket of dim cloud and light-yet-consistent rain was particularly unfavourable to both teams. The pitch didn’t tear up, but the slippery surface ensured a free-flowing end-to-end game, a typical fiery FA Cup fixture. Tackles flew in left, right and centre, but Avenue manager John Deacey’s trademark passing game was the biggest victim to the weather, as Avenue struggled to play through a packed Penrith midfield. Although Avenue created the best chances in a goalless first half, it was Northern League outfit Penrith that scored the game’s first goal – lax defending by Avenue from a long throw led to the ball trickling through the defence, Penrith striker Martin Coleman firing in a low shot to take the lead early in the second half, much to the delight of the travelling faithful. Sensing that a change was necessary, Deacey then made an inspired substitution by introducing ex-FC Halifax Town winger Jason St Juste to the match, whose fearless game-changing runs down the left side were comparable to the recent efforts of Town’s Duane Holmes. Avenue soon gained the equaliser they deserved – Richard Marshall converting a penalty after Chris Howarth was spectacularly fouled in the area. In an exciting end-to-end finish, Avenue managed to avoid a replay thanks to an injury time equaliser. St Juste’s corner was cleared out to captain Nathan Hotte, whose subsequent cross was turned in by Howarth at the far post, a jump that sent both him and the keeper crashing into the woodwork. It may be almost three months until Town enter the competition, but this match proved how passionate clubs are about the Cup in its earliest stages. To either of these clubs, the £7,500 winners prize from this round is invaluable, not to mention ascension to the final qualifying round, where Conference teams enter, and consequently the first round proper, which Avenue could now reach for the third year in a row. Unfortunately, Ossett Town lost 2–1 at Colwyn Bay, meaning that their cup run is now over.
Vaughan will tear you apart again //
// First team Leicester City vs. Huddersfield Town King Power Stadium Saturday 19th October, 3pm K.O. SkyBet Championship
// Development Squad Coventry City vs. Huddersfield Town Sky Blue Lodge Training Ground Tuesday 15th October, 2pm K.O. U21 Professional Development League 2 North
// Academy Huddersfield Town vs. Leeds United Canalside Saturday 19th October, 11am K.O. U18 Professional Development League 2 North