Book Review – Regrets of a Football Maverick: The Terry Curran Autobiography by Terry Curran with John Brindley

Thanks to the internet, information about players from the past are available after a quick search. For instance Sheffield Wednesday fans of a certain vintage looking for Terry Curran (voted The Owls all-time Cult Hero in a poll run by the BBC), on Wikipedia will find his entry tells us that his professional playing career lasted from 1973 through to 1986, taking in sixteen clubs (including loans) here in England, as well as brief sojourns in Sweden and Greece. Whilst this is useful to an extent in a factual sense, these figures do nothing to provide a detailed picture of the man and his career, and instead raises questions such as why Curran played for so many Clubs, how did he come to play for both Sheffield teams, and what was his relationship with some of the big management names at the time, such as Brian Clough, Jack Charlton, Tommy Docherty and Howard Kendall.

These questions and more are answered in Curran’s 2012 autobiography, Regrets of a Football Maverick. The title itself is telling, with the immediate suggestion to readers that this look back on his career and life has made Curran reflect and so question some of the things he did, given that during his playing career he was a forthright and confident individual, not afraid to say his piece.

One thing to say straight away is that this is a tale from the 1970s and 80s when football and indeed society was very different to that today and as the dustjacket warns (slightly tongue-in-cheek), “Terry Curran’s story may offend the politically correct!”.

In terms of the content of the book, it follows a fairly traditional timeline, with the opening chapter dedicated to Curran’s childhood growing up in Kinsley, a village in West Yorkshire, about eight miles southeast of Wakefield. Immediately within this opening to the book, readers are provided with an insight into an event that was to impact Curran significantly. When he was just eight years old, his parents split with his mother leaving the family home. As Curran writes in the book, “emotionally I was never the same kid…Dad was heart-broken and that had a big influence on me.” This resulted in him stating that, he was “never going to allow any female to get close enough to cause me the same upset. That lack of trust stayed with me for a lot of my adult life” and goes some way to explaining why he was a self-confessed womaniser during his playing career.

The opening chapter also details how Curran came to support Sheffield Wednesday, after being hooked despite The Owls giving up a two-goal lead against Everton in the 1966 FA Cup Final. Readers also get to read about Curran’s youth career playing representative football for the South Kirby Boys District team and for Kinsley Boys which led to offers from league clubs Halifax Town and Doncaster Rovers. Curran opted for Donny given its close proximity to home and his talent was rewarded when manager Maurice Setters offered him a professional contract.

Curran made his debut for Rovers on Saturday 29 September 1973 away at Gillingham, with Doncaster losing 5-1, with a highlight during that season, playing against Liverpool in the FA Cup Third Round replay (the Merseysiders went on to lift the trophy). He was making a name for himself in more ways than one, with the Club mistakenly detailing Curran to the press as ‘Terry’ despite him being christened ‘Edward.’ Clubs were expressing interest in the promising young winger with then First Division clubs, Leeds United, Everton and Sheffield United all apparently keen to sign him. However, it was to be beside the River Trent that Curran opted for and a move to Nottingham Forest and manager Brian Clough in August 1975, then languishing in the Second Division. At the time Curran, saw it as, “a chance to play for one of the game’s greatest managers.”

Programme: Fulham v Nottingham Forest 1976/77

Curran devotes a whole chapter to his time at Forest, with his admiration for Clough and his unique style of management evident. Take Curran’s introduction to the rest of the Reds squad, with Clough telling Martin O’Neill, “I’d like to introduce you to the young man who will be taking your place on Saturday.” Curran’s second season at Forest was the 1976/77 campaign, which opened with a fixture at Craven Cottage to play Fulham. The game ended 2-2 with Curran scoring what he considers to be his best ever goal – “picking the ball up on the halfway line, I beat four defenders before lobbing the ball high into the net high beyond goalkeeper Richard Teale.” George Best (who was a football hero for Curran) was in the crowd that day having signed for the SW6 Club and said, “I was really impressed. He (Curran) is a very good player.” That season was to see Forest gain promotion to the top flight, but Curran was to miss a significant part of it with a cruciate ligament injury suffered in October 1976. Having worked his way back into the side in March, the relationship at Forest began to break down with Curran dropped from the team in the run-in and little playing time at the start of the 1977/78 season as the Club took the First Division by storm to finish the campaign as Champions. By the time the title was being lifted at the City Ground, Curran was at Derby County under the watch of Tommy Docherty.

As Forest went onto be European Champions twice and win numerous other domestic trophies under Clough and Taylor it was a case of what have been for Curran. If he had got his head down and waited and remained injury-free, who is to say he might have got a regular place in the side. As Curran reflects, “If only I could have put an older head on my young shoulders. I turned my back on one of the most successful sides of that generation – any generation.”

Curran’s stay at the Baseball Ground was a brief one with 26 appearances and two goals for The Rams and acknowledged, “I didn’t play as consistently well as I know I could have.” Curran’s main other observation from his time at Deby was that “I don’t think Tommy (Docherty) adjusted to the culture shock of…the real world at Derby after being a constant source of national attention at Old Trafford.” So as the 1978/79 campaign started, Curran swapped the East Midlands for Hampshire at Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton in what was to prove another one season stay.

Programme 1978-79 League Cup Final

It was both a positive and negative experience. On the one-hand it saw Curran make his one and only appearance in a Final at Wembley, as the Saints lost to Forest 3-2, and strike up a great friendship with 1966 World Cup winner, Alan Ball, but on the other, witnessed a difficult relationship with the Southampton boss. Curran’s criticism was centred on McMenemy’s inability to motivate the dressing room and over-reliance on the senior players within the squad which was detrimental to the younger Saint talent. It was also at Southampton that Curran first encountered cortisone injections to deal with pain in his right leg. Like many other players at the time, they were in common use, and it was only years later that the consequences for ex-players has come to light with the overuse of the treatment.

Curran’s beginning of the end at The Dell comes about in strange circumstances. With Southampton having just beaten Leeds United in the League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg, and whilst out celebrating, Curran is ‘approached’ by Jack Charlton who was then manager of Sheffield Wednesday to drop down two divisions to play at Hillsborough. Despite McMenemy’s plans to make some money out of a deal to send Curran to play football in the United States, in March 1979 The Owls signed Curran.

Programme: The Boxing Day Massacre 1979/80

Given that the blue and white of Wednesday had run through Curran’s veins since he was a young boy perhaps it is no shock that his time in S6 was the happiest of his career. During his stint at the Club he helped them to promotion from the Third Division in the 1979/80 campaign, finishing with 24 league goals and claiming the Divisional Golden Boot Award. One game stands out from that season, a performance that went a long way to giving Curran his Cult-hero status at Hillsborough – the ‘Boxing Day Massacre’ as he destroyed Sheffield United 4-0 in front of a third-tier record gate of 49,309. In the following season Wednesday looked good going into the final part of the campaign for a real tilt at promotion to the top flight, but fell away, with Curran critical of Jack Charlton’s lack of spending in the transfer market. Their relationship continued to be fractious with an infamous scrap between them in the Club gym a sign of the different ways the men view how the game should be played. It came to a head when Curran’s three year deal at Wednesday ended, with the management refusing to meet the new contract demands. Out of the blue, Wednesday’s cross-city rivals Sheffield United came in for Curran, who admits that for the first time in his career he moved for the money.

It proved to be a short and pretty unhappy stay at Bramall Lane, with Curran unimpressed by the coaching and training at the Club and both sets of fans in Sheffield less than enamoured with the maverick winger. Salvation came with a loan spell to First Division Everton during the 1982/83 season. This was made permanent in the following campaign, but once again Curran’s luck was out, picking up an injury in September 1983 that kept him out of the game until April 1984. Having worked his way back to fitness and playing in the FA Cup Semi-Final win over Southampton, the Twin Towers beckoned for Curran. However, three weeks before the Final, he suffered a hamstring injury and with it went any chance of an appearance in an FA Cup Final. Everton were becoming a force and in 1984/85 went onto to become First Division winners. Curran played enough games to earn a medal, but once again his emotional nature landed him in serious trouble and an exit from Goodison Park.

With injuries ahead of a European Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final First Leg in Munich, Curran believed his chances of starting the game were good but wanted this confirmed in training. Howard Kendall said he wouldn’t make a decision until shortly before kick-off, so Curran decided that he wasn’t prepared to go to the airport and travel with the squad. He was never selected in the starting line-up or on the bench again. As Curran reflects, “a crazy decision had once again sealed my exit from a great football club, and I was the obvious loser.” Left with no real option, Curran asked for a free transfer and for the 1985/86 season found himself back in Yorkshire at Huddersfield Town.

This move was effectively the beginning of the end of Curran’s career, with injuries taking a toll on his ability to play week-in, week-out. Despite that he managed seven goals in just over thirty appearances for The Terriers. Retirement though beckoned and over the next few years (1986 – 1989) Curran played for seven clubs (Panionios [Greece], Hull City, Sunderland, Grantham Town, Grimsby Town, Chesterfield and Goole Town) but only making a handful of appearances for each. Whilst at Goole he also managed the team, with fate once again proving unkind to Curran, as the financial position of the Club collapsed leading to the eventual demise of Goole Town. He then tried his hand with Mossley in 1992/93, but it proved to another difficult and brief spell in the dug-out with seven defeats in seven games and inevitably the sack.

At that point Curran walked away from football and went into business. Once again like his football career, he seems to have had more than his fair share of back luck, with a lucrative land sale becoming complicated and ending in a protracted legal case. Back in 2012 when the book was written, Curran was living a more settled life with partner Lynne and two sons, Tom and Jock and had done his coaching badges and was working at the Doncaster Rovers Centre Excellence.

For all the tales of on and off-field shenanigans, fall-outs, goals and girls, there is a serious side to this book. And Curran talks with honesty and openness about the mistakes he made in his playing career and in his personal life, and the implications of his series of injuries and his tempestuous and at times impetuous nature. The reality is that it takes courage and strength to admit when we are wrong and even more to put it into print and make it public.

Therefore the final word should go to Curran himself. “I was supposed to be the rebel who played as if tomorrow didn’t exist. The truth was…that I underachieved. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I not suffered that terrible injury at Forest and if I’d stayed injury-free when I got my last big chance in the game at Everton. But mostly I got it wrong myself. I picked too many arguments, ruffled too many feathers and took too many wrong turnings.”


(Publisher: Vertical Editions. October 2012. Hardcover: 272 pages)


Buy the book here: Terry Curran – Regrets of a Football Maverick

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“GIMME THE BALL”: MY TAKE ON THE BEAUTIFUL GAME by Terry Curran with John Brindley

From watching Sheffield Wednesday and England in the golden year of 1966 to football in the age of Covid 19, Owls idol Terry Curran shoots from the hip as he explores the good, bad and ugly sides of the ‘beautiful game’.

He introduces you to ‘greats’ George Best, Alan Ball and Brian Clough who inspired his own exciting and unpredictable career and reveals his explosive but close relationship with Jack Charlton.

From rock bottom Doncaster Rovers to First Division champions Everton, TC lit up the game with his blistering pace and appetite for the unexpected. Yet his heart was always with The Owls whose rise and fall he writes of as a fan as well as a never-to-be-forgotten player.

A footballer, who always did things his way, TC’s views on modern day football are also ‘out of the box’. He explains why coaching methods have left his club and country behind the times – and calls for radical change.

There’s humour and slapstick from one of football’s great characters who refuses to compromise the principles he learnt playing for Clough’s Forest. Warning: If you pick up this book you won’t want to put it down!

(Publisher: Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. September 2021. Paperback: 250 pages)

Follow on Twitter Terry Curran Official (@terrycurran_11) / Twitter


In 1914 one of Britain’s most famous sportsmen went off to play his part in the First World War.

Like millions of others, he would die.

Unlike millions of others, nobody knew how or where. Until now.

Lost in France is the true story of Leigh Roose: playboy, scholar, soldier and the finest goalkeeper of his generation. It’s also the tale of how one man became caught up in a global catastrophe – one that would cost him his life, his identity and his rightful place as one of football’s all-time legends.

Lost In France is the biography of goalkeeper Leigh Roose, football’s first genuine superstar, a man so good at his position on the field of play that the Football Association made one of the most significant rule changes in the game’s history just to keep him in check. Small wonder that when the Daily Mail put together a World XI to take on another planet, Leigh’s was the first name on its team sheet.

Read our review here: Book Review: Lost in (

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. July 2016. Paperback: 192 pages)

Book Review: The Wessie – A History of the West Riding Senior Football Association Cup by Martin Jarred

The FA Cup is recognised as the oldest cup competition in the World with it first being played during 1871/72, when Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Oval in London. It predated the first Football League Championship in England by seventeen years, when Preston North End took the title.

The point of this brief timeline of English football? Well, simply that cup football came into being before the organisation of league football and perhaps was partly responsible for the special place the FA Cup competition once held within this country. Additionally, it is useful for understanding where the early power of the game was, with The FA coming into existence in 1863, and a number of County FA’s also being founded, for instance, the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA (1867), Lancashire County FA (1878) and Cumberland FA (1884), before the Football League in 1888.

The West Yorkshire Association came into existence in 1896, due in part to the fact that this part of the country was dominated by the game of rugby. The fledgling organisation launched the West Yorkshire Cup in 1896/97 with Hunslet the winners in the four team competition, which included Bradford, Halifax, and Leeds.

The title of the book, The Wessie, takes its point of reference for the term for people living in the West Riding by those living in other parts of the Broad Acres of Yorkshire. What is immediately evident, is that this has been a real labour of love for its author, Martin Jarred, who came through Prostate Cancer to complete the book, from which half of the author’s royalties go towards Yorkshire Against Cancer in appreciation of the care and treatment he received.

In terms of contents, the book charts the history of the Senior Cup, which in its various guises was played for between 1896 until 1999, details of the County Cup from 2007 to 2019 (when the Senior Cup was presented to the County Cup winners) and a brief overview of key figures in the history of the West Riding County FA.

The amount of research that has gone into this book is staggering, with team-line ups, scorers, attendances, and venues, dating back to that first year of the cup back in 1896/97. It is a book that you will pick-up and put-down and learn something different every time. This includes the early influence of rugby with a number of the grounds used in the early years of the competition, such as Fartown (Huddersfield), Crown Flatt (Dewsbury) and Wheldon Road (Castleford), locations familiar to fans of the thirteen-a-side code. Other points of interest include seeing how players who became household names started off their careers in the Senior Cup such as John Charles, David Seaman, and many of the 60s and 70s renowned Leeds United teams.

The journey through the book is also a journey through the history and development of the game, with clubs going out of existence, in Leeds City and the original Bradford Park Avenue, and the introduction of innovations such as floodlights and substitutes.

However, the most significant factor is that this book is a record of a competition that is unlikely ever to be revived. If the FA Cup is treated with such distain these days, what chances do the County competitions have? The Wessie details how the Senior Cup in West Riding slowly but surely became nothing more than a nuisance in the football calendar, with the senior teams increasingly using it as a chance to blood youngsters or indeed decline to take part altogether and as a result crowds simply did not turn out to see what became games between teams of reserves. The wonderful Fratelli made trophy though at least does still live on, now presented to the County Cup winners, but the irony being that even some of those clubs taking part in recent years (from the National League, Northern Premier League, Northern Counties East League and North West Counties League), use the competition to play their reserves or Academy players and so means that there is little interest from spectators and certainly no financial reward. Will history repeat itself and see another competition consigned to the pages of history?

(Tony Brown. December 2019). Paperback 132pp)


2014/15: Sky Bet Championship – Huddersfield Town v Fulham (A Yorkshire Trilogy: Part 3)

Programme 2000/01

The last time Fulham travelled to Huddersfield on 14 April 2001, they knew that victory would see them promoted to the Premier League. Town also had plenty to play for as they were battling against relegation.

A 2-1 win for Fulham through a Louis Saha penalty and a Luis Boa Morte goal five minutes from time, sealed Fulham’s promotion to the top flight, and pushed the Yorkshire club closer to their eventual drop down to the third tier of English football.

Given its significance, you might think that every kick of that game back in 2001 would be indelibly etched into my memory. Incredibly it isn’t and even watching the goals back, I can’t seem to recall one of the biggest days in the club’s history. Instead the abiding memories of the day are of sitting next to a guy from Canada who had travelled over for the game and the stewards at the ground who didn’t allow us long to stay and celebrate the victory.

Fourteen years later, it is now Fulham fighting against a second consecutive relegation as they return to Huddersfield.

It’s a bright day as I take the simple and quick journey to Huddersfield from Leeds. The train is a direct service, so locations such as Dewsbury, Batley and Muirfield are no more than buildings blurred as the train hurtles into Kirklees.

Arriving at Huddersfield I resist the temptation of a pint at either of the stations fine watering-holes and instead make the relatively short walk down to the John Smith’s Stadium, home to both Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants. It is by no stretch of the imagination an attractive walk to the ground taking in as it does both the Huddersfield ring-road and the gas works. However, the walk is worth it, as for me, the stadium is amongst the best of the new-builds.

Main stand entrance

Back in 2001 the away end was filled with a bouncing cacophony of fans, buoyed by expectation and anticipation. Today the 500 or so hardy souls gathered in a nervous group were still coming to terms with the midweek defeat by Leeds in a ‘smash and grab’ victory and the fear now was that only five points separated the team from one of the relegation spots.

As those football philosophers ‘Saint & Greavsie’ espoused – football is ‘a funny old game’. In midweek the footballing gods had granted Fulham no luck, and despite 27 efforts on goal, including 3 which hit the woodwork, had ended up losing 3-0.

Today though the gods must have felt some pity after their recent cruelty and were indeed generous as within two minutes Fulham were gifted the lead.

From the far end it all looked a bit of a mess. Alex Kacaniklic swung in a corner from the right and was soon surrounded and congratulated by his team mates, as the ball nestled in the Town net. It made for confused celebrations as the Fulham faithful exchanged puzzled glances. In the end the conclusion was that Alex Smithies in goal for Huddersfield had left it for the man on the post, who assumed his keeper would deal with it. Net result, a lead in the most fortunate of circumstances.

The half passes in an instant and the overriding thought is, how have Huddersfield not equalised. Incredibly as the whistle blows for half-time, Fulham somehow have a 1-0 lead. At least the break allows for the classic football ‘Three P’s’ – pie, pint and a piss.

Huddersfield are out for the second-half early and it is a while before Fulham and the officials emerge.

As the game restarts my overriding feeling is that a victory today would probably seal survival in the Championship for the season, but that is 45 minutes away.

What unfolds can only be described as the one of the most bizarre halves of football I have ever witnessed. Just over ten minutes into the second-half, Huddersfield wins a corner and in the resulting melee, Ishmael Miller’s curling effort is handled on the line. Referee Richard Clark awards a penalty and shows Cauley Woodrow a red card. There is then a period of confusion which from the away end is not easy to interpret. Are the Fulham players complaining about the penalty award? What is going on? Woodrow seems reluctant to go and is finally ushered towards the touchline by his teammates. However the protests on the pitch continue and eventually referee Clark consults with the fourth official. Woodrow is then recalled from the touchline and Fulham skipper Sean Hutchinson is instead dismissed.

After over five minutes of confusion, the penalty is eventually taken. Nahki Wells steps up but his effort is saved by Marcus Bettinelli, diving to his right. Minutes later Woodrow having been reprieved by the officials nearly scores, as he gets in behind the defence but hits the post with his shot.

Down to 10 men with well over 25 minutes to go, is it realistic to think that the lead can be maintained?

View from away stand

The feeling in the away end is like that of a dazed boxer clinging to the ropes and another big punch lands when Huddersfield are awarded a second penalty with twenty minutes remaining. There is no real protest from the Fulham ranks, rather a resigned acceptance that the home side will have an equaliser.

Nahki Wells shows bottle by stepping up to take the penalty. However with Bettinelli not even bothering to dive, the spot-kick strikes the post and bounces away. The Town fans can hardly believe what has happened and a few Fulham faithful swap less than friendly hand gestures with Terriers fans close to the away end.

Huddersfield manager Chris Powell decides to ring the changes with fifteen minutes remaining as Radoslaw Majewski replaces Tommy Smith and Joe Lolley replaces Jonathan Hogg. The barrage on the Fulham goal continues as efforts from Scannell, Butterfield, Edgar and Majewski rain in. Still Fulham hold out and defend heroically as Town make their last substitution with David Edgar making way for Jake Charles.

With just three minutes remaining Fulham try to run down the clock as Woodrow makes way for Hugo Rodallega. However, even when the ninety minutes is up there is no respite as the official indicates six minutes time added on – no surprise given the events surrounding the first penalty incident earlier.

Still Huddersfield come forward, still the Fulham defence somehow holds out. Whistles ring out from the away end as the last minute of time added on ticks away. Then Seko Fofana picks up the ball in his own half and with Huddersfield committed to attack, the Manchester City loanee streaks away from the limited Town cover who like hapless Keystone Cops are unable to catch the Fulham player. His shot hits the post but the rebound falls kindly and he slots home for an unlikely second goal.

The relief at clinching victory is shared by both the crowd and the players. Fofana is swamped amongst the traveling support and keeper Bettinelli runs the full length of the pitch to celebrate with the rest of the players. It is a celebration as wild and carefree as those fourteen years ago. There is only time for Huddersfield to kick-off before the referee blows for the end of the game.

The grins on the faces of fellow Fulham fans are as wide at the Thames and will probably last all the way back to West London. For me though I slip away in the car park and merge in the Town fans as they weave their way back to the town centre.

FFC sticker

Collar up, head down I smile inwardly and take in the conversations around me. Many bemoan James Vaughan’s midweek sending-off against Norwich, as they convince themselves the errant forward would have converted both penalties. But those are merely if’s and but’s. Fulham have been battered today, but have emerged with three points that could ultimately secure their Championship status this season.

My three game adventure is at an end. A win, a loss and a draw. Three very different experiences which sum up why as fans we love the game and more importantly our team.

2013/14: Sky Bet Championship – Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield Town

Will the real Sheffield Wednesday ‘stand-up’? That was the question Owls boss Dave Jones was facing after a 2-1 home defeat in the Yorkshire ‘derby’ against Huddersfield Town.

In their last game at Hillsborough, Wednesday were rampant winning 5-2 against promotion chasing Reading, but against the Terriers they were outplayed for the majority of the game. Jones stated, “we have a block when we play here, but if you start slaughtering the players you lose them and we need them to be big and brave.”

The Wednesday boss made four changes to his team from their last outing at Derby, but it made little difference.

One of those changes, keeper Damien Martinez was soon picking the ball out the net, when Huddersfield went ahead on eleven minutes. Adam Clayton was given too much time and space by the Owls defence and he picked out an unmarked Martin Paterson who finished coolly for his fiftieth league goal.

Paterson looked offside, but Town boss Mark Robins post-match stated he “hadn’t watched a replay” adding, “I don’t care – it was a good move and good finish”. His opposite number Dave Jones, view was that “the first goal might have been offside, but it doesn’t matter because we didn’t do our jobs properly”.

Jones looked to enliven his beleaguered side by introducing Jermaine Johnson and Giles Coke for Michail Antonio and Stephen McPhail at the start of the second-half.

However, it was the Terriers who should have scored just after the break, as a marauding run and shot from Paul Dixon fell for James Vaughan who somehow sliced his effort wide from twelve yards.

The home fans did have something to cheer though ten minutes into the second half, when Jermaine Johnson had his shot well saved by Town keeper Alex Smithies.

Indeed, after the game Terriers manager Mark Robins praised the Huddersfield stopper saying, “his concentration levels were fantastic. There was a small period of the game when we were peppered with shots and he had an answer for everything”.

Unfortunately for Wednesday, they couldn’t find an equaliser and it was Town who went further ahead on sixty eight minutes.

Following a corner, Oliver Norwood’s strike on goal was not cleared by the Wednesday defence, allowing Clayton to arrow his shot into the corner and put the visitors 2-0 ahead.

Even with twenty minutes remaining that pretty much sealed the points for Huddersfield, with a goal from a Connor Wickham free-kick three minutes into stoppage time, merely a consolation.

Unsurprisingly at the final whistle, Hillsborough echoed to boos from the Wednesday fans as this result left their team in the bottom three and with the unenviable record of being the only club in the country yet to have kept a clean sheet.

Terriers’ boss Mark Robins reflected that his team had been “outstanding for the first hour” but accepted the side was “still a work in progress”.

Dave Jones may not have the luxury of time but stated defiantly, “it’s up to everyone to turn this around, and that starts from the staff and through to all the players. We have all got to stand up and be counted”.

2012/13: FA Cup Fourth Round – Huddersfield Town v Leicester City

LCFCFive months ago, the 2012/13 FA Cup opening weekend took place and I was amongst a crowd of 71 for the Preliminary Qualifying tie between Garforth Town and West Yorkshire neighbours Wakefield. On that overcast day on the last Saturday of August, Garforth made it through to the First Qualifying Round with a 1-0 win. Unlike previous years, this season I’ve not made a beeline for attending games in the ‘Oldest Cup competition in the World’.

However, on the last Saturday in January it is to the John Smith’s Stadium for the Fourth Round game between Huddersfield Town and Leicester City that I set off for. The reasons, well it’s easy to reach by train and the tickets are only priced at £10/£5. Indeed The Terriers have also priced their next Championship fixture in midweek against Crystal Palace at the same reduced rate. Chairman Dean Hoyle explains in his programme notes, this is to demonstrate the clubs, “…commitment to giving value to supporters…” making the game “…as affordable as possible…in the aftermath of Christmas…” With Leicester City taking up their full 4,000 allocation, the Huddersfield faithful hardly took up the chairman’s offer with gusto as only 7,945 added to The Foxes contingent. Now this could have been down to the weather conditions, although despite the snow the day before, Saturday was a bright winter’s day. It may have been down to the fact that Huddersfield had not won in the league for twelve games or a protest by some fans at the sacking of manager Simon Grayson. However, the clubs have to look at themselves and take some of the blame. Over recent years teams from all the four divisions have devalued the FA Cup be playing weakened sides. Indeed for this game Town made four changes to the team beaten 4-0 at Watford last week while City made five alterations to the eleven that beat Middlesbrough 1-0 last Friday. So even with the offer of a ticket for a tenner, fans appear not to want to watch what they perceive as second-string players turning out. Another interesting aspect of the game yesterday was that the usual 76 page programme was abandoned in favour of a 36 page offering. What does that say? And as for the chairman’s desire to produce value for money for supporters, let me do the maths for you. The usual Championship Huddersfield Town programme (Give Us An H [GUAH]), costs £3 and works out at 4p a page, the FA Cup offering worked out at 6p a page – interesting don’t you think.

On the pitch, the first-half was a pretty forgettable and disjointed; perhaps not surprising given the team changes on both sides. The only real chance came on twenty minutes, when an effort from Martyn Waghorn slid just past the left hand post of Alex Smithies in the Huddersfield goal. The only other entertainment was provided by The Terriers fans who ran through their repertoire of songs and chants, including “Smile A While” and “Town will tear you apart” (to the tune of New Order’s “love will tear us apart”). Thankfully, the second-half started more brightly as Huddersfield took charge with chances falling to Lee Novak and James Vaughan. In response, Leicester brought on Chris Wood and David Nugent on the hour mark, with Huddersfield introducing Sean Scannell shortly afterwards. The introduction of all the substitutes lifted the game and with both sets of supporters finding their voice, the game at last had the feel of a Cup-tie. Suddenly it was end-to-end stuff as Wood forced Smithies into a decent save, and was then followed by chances for Novak and Vaughan. Then on seventy three minutes, Town were awarded a penalty as Jack Hunt was fouled by Lloyd Dyer, which allowed Lee Novak the chance to calmly stroke home the spot-kick. Huddersfield were in control and shortly after Vaughan somehow contrived to miss from inside the six-yard box, whilst a Peter Clarke header was cleared off the line from a corner. However, on eighty two minutes, Leicester made Town pay for the missed opportunities. Ritchie De Laet received the ball wide out on the right, crossed and after a dummy from Lloyd Dyer, Chris Wood smartly finished; a clinical goal. That was the final decisive action of the game and both sides face doing it all again in a replay at The King Power Stadium. How will The Foxes price the tickets for the replay? What sort of attendance will the game draw? What sides will the clubs put out? Have the recent years meant the answers are already known or can the FA Cup turn the tide?