Life in League 1 – Playoffs, Penalties and Promotion
At approximately 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, I jumped up and down elated, hugged the random man next to me, then slumped back into my seat in block 131 at Wembley Stadium and shed a small selection of tears. The kind of drama I witnessed only a few yards from my eyes was hard to believe, but after 11 long years, my team, my home town, my first boyhood love, were promoted back to the Championship.
I’m not sure where the tears came from. Later that night, I thought about it and realised it was probably due to the fact that when I first started regularly going to Huddersfield games, we were in the then Division 1; promotion this season to me was us being back where we belonged. Thanks to a goalkeeper ballooning a penalty over the bar, I was allowed to see one of the greatest sights in football, your club captain lifting a trophy at Wembley.
There is no need for me giving you a big report on the game, because to be honest, it wasn’t that great. Pitch side temperatures were 40 degrees and that heat combined with the pressure gave a very tight game. However, few could dispute that Huddersfield had the better of the chances; United only mustered one shot on target whereas Town had three cleared off the line, hit the bar and Jordan Rhodes’ only chance resulted in a marginally wide header. Despite the performance, and missing our first three penalties, Huddersfield Town will be joining Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship next season.
Huddersfield too are hoping to turn loan success Sean Morrison into a permanent signing; however, most of our summer spending will probably depend on whether or not anyone will stump up the cash for Jordan Rhodes. It will, however, probably be a much different team in the Championship as at the moment, it is still Lee Clark’s team and they would struggle heavily. We are desperate for a central midfield partnership and someone with some flair. A bit of pace to accompany Rhodes’ would be useful too. Otherwise, keep an eye out for Jack Hunt, a right back who has come through our academy and is very much in the Dani Alves/Micah Richards mould of right backs (i.e: he can’t really defend), loves to bomb forward and still very young.
Charlton have an exciting midfielder in Johnnie Jackson and a great left back in Rhoys Wiggins, both of whom I’d expect to make the step up comfortably. I think, however, the Addicks would need to build up front as Bradley Wright-Philips and Yann Kermogant have both played at this level before, and neither have been particularly successful.
Outside the promoted teams, I’d expect many players to leave Sheffield United. They are in desperate need of slashing their wage bill and the likes of playmaker Stephen Quinn, young and extremely commanding centre back Harry Maguire, and right back Matthew Lowton may all be on their way to the Championship, as well as Kevin Macdonald who is out of contract, but could still definitely do a job at a higher level. MK Dons may well lose their excellent prospect Daniel Powell to a bigger club and someone may take a chance on Carlisle striker Francois Zoko.
Either way, with Huddersfield’s promotion comes one for me too. I’ll be writing about the Championship next season. I’m going to stick my neck out now and say Birmingham will be champions, but with a summer of transfers coming up, that may change come August. I’ll settle for a very boring mid-table finish for Huddersfield, thank you very much.