No Separating Town and City

It’s fair to say that this season’s FA Cup 5th Round included an eye-catching, mouth-watering array of matches, with many Championship sides hosting Premier League sides, and with two non-league sides still in there (whilst we’re on the topic, well done to Lincoln City for reaching the Quarter Finals. Historic stuff).

Huddersfield versus Man City was one of those eye-catching fixtures, and although both sides made changes – Town 7, City 8 – with both teams having an eye on games they consider of higher importance, it was still an entertaining affair, even if there were no goals.

Going into the game, both sides had eased past their 3rd and 4th round opponents, scoring 8 goals each and conceding none. Something had to give, and although City sprayed the ball around better, as you’d expect given the calibre on show, Town more than matched them for commitment, endeavour and spirit, and restricted them to a handful of chances which were dealt with by ‘keeper Joel Coleman, making only his fourth appearance for the club.

In fact, it was the hosts who had the ball in the net but Phil Billing’s effort was ruled out due to an offside decision.

A replay is the last thing either side needed as they have more pressing agendas, but that’s what they have on Wednesday, March 1, in front of the live BBC cameras. Having spoken to a few Town fans prior to kick off, they said although it would be a nice feather in the club’s cap to knock out the Premier League giants, they saw the game as a ‘distraction’ from the league, in which they currently occupy third place. City supporters were probably thinking the same, although their focus is on the Champions League as the league is all but out of their reach.

As you will see from my photographs, the setting for a game of football could not have been better. It was an incredibly mild February day, with the prolonged Yorkshire sunshine tipping the temperature into the 15 degrees mark.

The atmosphere was buzzing pre-match, and credit must go to the Huddersfield supporters amongst the sell-out crowd – a record attendance at the John Smith’s stadium, 24,129 – as they produced chant after chant. Normally it’s the away support who are the noisiest, but City’s support, despite amassing 4,000, was quiet, and Town fans easily outsung them.

I can’t sign off without mentioning Terry Furness. He was the guy who got me into the game. Huddersfield had put into practise a method to stop Man City fans getting hold of tickets among the home fans. This process meant that in order to get a ticket, you needed to have purchased at least one Huddersfield ticket via the official ticketing service which I had not. I’d been to the Town v Port Vale game and the game at Rochdale but for the former I paid on the day and the latter I decided to sit with the Rochdale supporters.

Terry responded to a Tweet I’d sent bemoaning my decreasing ticket options. After looking back through my timeline and seeing that I wasn’t a City fan, he offered to buy me a ticket. We spoke on the phone and arranged payment and then an e-ticket was emailed to me. What a top bloke! I couldn’t go to the game without at least trying to meet the guy so that’s Terry and I pictured below (I’m on the right).

My focus now is getting a ticket to the replay and then the quarter final match at Middlesbrough.

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Myself and Terry Furness – a top bloke who sorted me out with a ticket.

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The pre-match atmosphere was buzzing in the Yorkshire sunshine.

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Town Upset Hill and Down Dale

Rochdale v Huddersfield was always going to be a tasty affair, given that the two clubs are separated by just 20 miles of M62, but the 4th Round ‘derby’ between Keith Hill’s Rochdale and David Wagner’s Championship high-flyers Huddersfield had added spice thanks to a wet, zippy surface and a referee who threatened to ruin the game as a spectacle with some OTT decisions.

After constant rain had made the Spotland pitch (I should say the Crown Oil Arena pitch but I’m old school) difficult to judge, both sides were guilty of overplaying passes and misjudging the pace of the ball in the early exchanges. But rather than let the slide tackles slide and take into account the derby atmosphere and the whole occasion, referee Jonathan Hogg was far too whistle happy and the game had very little flow to it, much to the annoyance of the home support, who felt that their side were getting unfairly treated.

When play did flow it resulted in the opening goal, a debut goal for new Town man Colin Quaner, who had an easy tap-in after Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown slid the ball to him.

After the break, Town, backed by a horde of supporters who filled an entire side of the ground, took full control. Rochdale had created little, apart from a chance for Peter Vincenti who should have done better than put his header over the bar from 6 yards out.

In the 66th minute, that man Brown converted a spot kick, and then two goals by fan favourite and potential cult figure Michael Hefele completed Town’s passage into the 5th round.

On a personal note, I think this match was the first match I’d attended as an adult and NOT had a beer! Hold ups on the M1, gridlocked traffic through Rochdale and a major struggle to find a parking spot meant that I arrived at the ground with minutes to spare and no time for a swift one in the clubhouse. And with commitments in the evening, I had to make haste on my return so it was a dry day on the booze front at least, if not the weather front.

Another first for me occurred when leaving the ground. As I walked up Wilbutts Lane, past the ground, two mounted police officers cantered towards me in an attempt to escort a few Town fans away from the Rochdale fans who were pouring out of the ground. The sight of two massive horses coming directly at me was a real sphincter botherer I can tell you!

Town will now host Manchester City and it’s been a struggle to get a ticket for this potential giant killing game. I had to wait until February 14 when the tickets went on general sale but even then, a method of ensuring City fans do not get seats amongst the home fans was put into practice by the club, and so to get a ticket you needed to have purchased a ticket for a previous Huddersfield match. I had of course been to the game versus Port Vale in Round 3, but that was a pay-on-the-day match. So I turned to Twitter where I found help from a very kind-hearted Town fan who has offered to buy me a ticket. Other offers followed from Town fans who had seen my pleas on Twitter and read my blog. Satisfied I’m no City fan, they were more than happy to help further my Quest. Good on them.

So hopefully, thanks to Terry Furness (whom I shall buy a pint on Saturday), I will be at what promises to be a real humdinger of a tie.

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