Huddersfield Town Wales XI
Matt Shaw from the And He Takes That Chance Huddersfield Town fan podcast joined us for episode #121 to provide a Terriers eye view of Sorba Thomas who’s proving to be a big it in West Yorkshire and Matt picks him in his Huddersfield Wales XI.
Head Coach – Terry Yorath. Whilst not strictly our manager or head coach, Terry Yorath proved to be a fabulous no2 to Peter Jackson from 1997-1999 where the duo engineered ‘The Great Escape’ as Huddersfield were rock bottom of the 2nd tier upon their appointment. After local millionaire and club owner Barry Ruberry unscrupulously dispensed with Jackson and Yorath, the club found itself in administration and facing only their 2nd spell in the English bottom tier come 2003.
New owners turned to a pairing who had unfinished business at the club and Jackson and Yorath set to work. Promotion via the playoffs at the Millennium Stadium was achieved before a tilt at the third tier playoffs in 2006 was ultimately unsuccessful. Yorath departed in December 2006 due to personal issues and Jackson and Huddersfield were sadly not the same thereafter.
Goalkeeper; Danny Ward. ‘Wardy’ was a huge part of Town’s unlikely promotion to the Premier League in 2017. Then on loan from Liverpool, Ward was the hero in the shootout at Hillsborough saving penalties from Sam Hutchison and Fernando Forestieri then left a quarry of Town players in his wake on a legendary 100 yard sprint and knee slide in front of the Town fans. Ward then confirmed his legend status by saving Reading’s final penalty at Wembley before Christopher Schindler did the rest. A big character on and off the pitch, Wardy’s singing on the mic in the civic ceremony promotion party aftermath further cemented his status.
Right Back; Steve Jenkins was a dependable right back who made just under 300 appearances for the club. Jenks was there through some good and bad days and the most prominent memories mirror that with his debut goal against Norwich and his fracas with Paul Devlin at Birmingham at the forefront of my recollections.
Centre Back; Rob Page. The current Wales boss only played 20 times for Huddersfield at the tail end of his career in 2008 but left a lasting impression on the club and supporters. The 2007/2008 season was a bit of a mess. Andy Ritchie had replaced Peter Jackson as manager and the fans hadn’t really taken to the former Barnsley boss or the style of play. Town had shipped 4 goals in the same game on 4 occasions and defensively we looked ill disciplined and unorganised. Sat 16th in the League 1 table in January 2008, Andy Ritchie made the call to Rob Page. Rob Page helped transform Town’s defence beyond recognition and we kept 10 clean sheets in the 20 games he played in whereas prior to his arrival Town kept 7 clean sheets in 31 games. Once Ritchie was disposed of on April Fools Day (really) Town went the rest of the season unbeaten. Sadly Page left for Chesterfield that summer and his replacements didn’t reach anywhere near the standards he had set.
Centre Back; Joel Lynch. With 128 appearances and some spectacular goals, Joel Lynch makes the cut. Ultimately Joel was a slightly frustrating figure at Huddersfield and I personally don’t feel that he has had the career that his talent warranted. We saw flashes of a centre back who had a lot of ability but for reasons unknown to myself rarely reached the levels he was capable of. When he was on song, he’s up there with some of the better centre backs we’ve had in the last 20 years. His solitary substitute appearance for Wales is arguably further proof of his unfulfilled talent.
Left Back; Joey Jones. Jones is from before my time of watching, but even as a youngster taking in his first Huddersfield games I was brought up to speed very quickly about a tough man from Llandudno who our then current left back “wasn’t fit to lace the boots of”.
Anchorman; Steve Doyle and a few others might be a bit miffed to miss out but I’m going to pick Lee Fowler. Fowler was a very talented and tough ball playing midfielder who’s off field lifestyle maybe meant that he never fulfilled the obvious potential that he had. Seen as our heir and successor to legendary midfielder Darren Bullock, Lee might not have hit the heights we hoped for but he does go down in cult hero fandom for being the man who scored the winning penalty in the 2004 playoff final in Cardiff….And then finding himself locked out of the stadium moments later. Although Fowler never won a full Wales cap, he was called up to the national squad, but had to settle ultimately for a dozen under 21 caps.
Centre midfield; Coined by Peter Jackson as “The Old Gits” David Phillips and Barry Horne joined Town in the Great Escape season of 1997/98. Despite being 34 and 35 respectively and discarded by their previous clubs both players belied their age by bringing an energy and exuberance to the team that you would associate with players 10 years their junior. Phillips played in both fullback roles and midfield and could often be found hanging 30 yards out on attacking corners. Not quite Paul Scholes, but Phillips technique saw him contribute to a couple of spectacular goals and assists. Horne brought pressing energy and a technical poise not often seen in Town’s midfield. Definitely a couple of golden oldies.
Right Wing; Dick Krzywicki was signed to add some panache to Town’s 1969/70 promotion winning team and supply crosses for Town legend Frank Worthington. Krzywicki scored on his debut and a further 3 times in the next 4 starts as Town sealed the 2nd division title. Krzywicki went on to be an important member of the side that stayed in the top flight in 1970/71.
Left Wing; I couldn’t overlook the man of the moment! Sorba Thomas creates for fun and has helped make watching Huddersfield enjoyable again. Hopefully a promising international career beckons for a player that works just as hard off of the pitch as on it.
Striker; Iwan Roberts. One of my boyhood heroes. If I close my eyes I can still see the toothless grin of Town’s talisman from the excellent 91/92 season and it brings back a lot of happy memories. A top striker and top man, Iwan broke Town’s post World War 2 goal scoring record in 1992 and formed a memorable strike partnership with ex Nottingham Forest youngster Phil Starbuck.