It was to be a season of extremities and one that had more than a few seasoned Blues muttering ‘typical City…’
Mel Machin’s side were both exciting and frustrating in equal measure and by early November, were in tenth in Division Two (the second tier, better known now as the Championship) and unable to find the consistency needed to match runaway leaders Bradford City who were already 14 points clear of the pre-season promotion favourites.
When the Blues were good, they were very good – Millwall, Leicester, Swindon and pacesetters Bradford had all conceded four goals to City, but it seemed a good result would be followed by a disappointing one with Machin’s young side often containing as many as nine home-grown players.
By the time Huddersfield Town arrived at Maine Road on a blustery, dark and cold afternoon, most of those in attendance weren’t expecting anything in particular – The Great Unpredictables were capable of winning handsomely or losing miserably – it was just a matter of which team turned up. The fact the Terriers were bottom of Division Two with just two points from a possible 24 on the road mattered little.
Bad kit and poor defending…
Huddersfield’s ‘bruised banana’ kit was the source of some amusement on the Kippax as the teams ran out, with former Blue Andy May amongst their starting XI.
Managed by ex-Arsenal legend Malcolm MacDonald, the Terriers were already eight points from safety, but still hopeful of turning things around.
‘SuperMac’ had only been in charge for a month, overseeing the only win of the season so far a week earlier – as well as four losses.
A win at Maine Road could be the start of a mini-revival for the West Yorkshire side and it was the visitors who started brighter, creating at least a couple of good scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes – but despite the early optimism of the visitors, it was City who went ahead when Neil McNab rifled a low shot home from 18 yards – the first shot the Blues had had at that stage.
The Terriers soon found themselves two goals down as Tony Adcock slipped Paul Stewart clear and the City striker buried a low shot home from close range.
Suddenly, everything the Blues were attempting was coming off – the flicks, tricks and risky passes – so when Andy Hinchcliffe’s cross was planted home by the Adcock not long after to make it three, there was just a whiff that something special might be on the cards.
Then Paul Simpson then raced clear on 41 minutes, but his cross was blocked and came back to him – he held the ball – too long for the more impatient members of the home crowd, before dashing for the bye-line again and whipping in a low cross that David White couldn’t miss from just inside the six-yard box.
The Blues went in at the break leading 4-0 – a handsome score-line in itself, but there was much more to come.
As Bovril, pies and various ‘liquid lunches’ were consumed around the ground and the roof lamps swayed in the breeze above the Kippax terrace, the half-time chatter was whether City would add more to their tally or declare at four.
So often teams build healthy leads in the first-half and then take their foot off the gas, but there would be none of that on this afternoon. Today was different. Today was a day that would be remembered for many years to come.
Not long after the restart City had bagged a fifth and it again involved Simpson who was tormenting an already deflated Terriers’ defence.