Tuesday sees Huddersfield Town make the sideways step across the Pennines to Ewood Park. Although we found the term “divisional rival” strange when the Huddersfield fans used to frequently use it, arguably they have been our main “divisional rival” this year due to us occupying the same sort of position in the table throughout the year, firstly at the top, then mid-table, and now down the bottom.
Not as good as ours. Still impressive though. They were formed in 1908, and in that time have mostly played in the top two divisions, recently being promoted to the Championship after an 11 year absence. They were the first team to win the First Division three times in a row (which has since been replicated by Arsenal, Liverpool and United), which they did so in 1923/4, 1924/5 and 1925/6. They were also runners-up in the following two seasons. They’ve won the FA Cup on the one occasion, after a 1-0 victory against Preston in 1928. Incidentally, they knocked us out along the way that season, after a 1-1 draw at Ewood, we went back to their place and got pumped 5-0 in a third round replay. They also knocked out Burnley in the first round. We got revenge though as we beat them 3-1 in the final in 1928. They’ve also reached another 3 finals on top of those two, in 1920, 1930 and 1938, losing to Villa, Arsenal and Preston respectively.
Our overall record against them is – Played 72, Won 29, Drew 23, Lost 20. And at Ewood it’s – Played 36, Won 17, Drew 12, Lost 7. Our last game against them at home was a 3-1 victory in the League Cup in 2005. Bellamy scored twice, Khizanishvili scored his first goal for us, and it was the game before our victory at Old Trafford that season.
Mark Robins, formerly manager of Rotheram, Barnsley and Coventry, became their manager on February 14 of this year following the sacking of Simon Grayson. Since his appointment, they've played 12, won 4, drawn 2 and lost 6.
James Vaughn is apparently world-class according to everyone’s favourite Huddersfield fan. Although he’s only scored 9 goals in 29 league games for them this season. In fairness, in a great deal of those games he was probably stretchered off after 5 minutes. Apart from him, Jermaine Beckford can be a real handful on his day, their left back Dixon is solid, and also from what I’ve seen, the Northern Irish international, center-midfielder Oliver Norwood is a good player, as is a winger they have called Sean Scannell.
Jordan Rhodes used to play for them. Did enough there to command an 8 million pound transfer fee. Is he worth that much? Probably not, but he was to them, with his goals they probably would have finished mid-table, instead they could be going straight back down.
Their former manager Simon Grayson also played for us. Anthony Pilkington was on our books as a youngster before later signing for them. Our third highest score in the Premier League (I think) Kevin Gallacher also had a brief stint there in 2002. Can’t find anyone else, maybe others can name some more.
Another common link is their fans also hate Steve Kean, due to a perceived tapping-up approach made by him in the media when attempting to buy Rhodes. So fair play to them for that.
Forgot I had agreed to write this and therefore haven’t had time to speak to any of their fans, so I've put this up now regardless as I imagine people are “anxious” to start discussing the game. Questions and answers from their fans will appear here in due course as I'm just sorting that out now.
On the one hand, they’ll be fighting for their lives, although it's important to remember they are down the bottom for a reason. They have the worst goal difference in the league, -24, with a key reason for that being the 45 goals they have conceded on the road. Their away record in the Championship is played 21, won 7, drew 3, lost 11, scoring 22, conceding 45. However, anyone can truly beat anyone, especially in a 6 pointer such as this so things like this often go out the window. Victory at Wolves on Saturday proved they’re not going down without a fight. I’ll don’t really like the term “must-win game” apart from games when you literally have to win, such as the Wigan game at home last year, but this is definitely our most important match of the season in terms of trying to stay up.
2-1 Rovers. Rhodes with the winner. COYB!!!!!