I had been intending to head to Kidsgrove Athletic for United’s (ultimately ill-fated) cup replay but after a hard day delivering news to the people of North Yorkshire, thought better of it. Thankfully, Andrew was heading to the Galpharm and asked if I wanted to tag along again. Huddersfield Town. Bradford City. Terriers. Bantams. Yorkshire Football Derby. Sounded tasty. Admittedly, it was in the Johnstone’s Paint Dulux Durex Tampax Tinpot Trophy but YORKSHIRE FOOTBALL WAR??? Yes please.
Because the kids who come along to JPT games aren’t allowed to stay up past 9.30, or are all subject to ASBO curfews and will self-destruct if not home before dark, this match kicked off at 7pm. This presented a little problem for all those in the 10,000+ crowd who, you know, work for a living and the snarled up M62 traffic meant many missed the kick-off. I think we did well to get to our seats (which were the nearest available, no time to be fussy over it) at 7.10, though it was slightly worse than the other Saturday.
By twenty past, the lure of pastry products proved too strong for the hard-working hacks and I went on a little scouting mission. I came back with a Chicken Balti and a Cheese and Onion slab. Andrew described the balti as “magma” coated in impenetrable pastry from which only heat can escape, not light. Mind was even more special. It was a rectangle of puff pastry filled with an oozing substance which was advertised as cheese and onion, but was more likely setting concrete and semtex congealing with monkey semen and something else that doesn’t even appear on the Periodic Table. With a hint of onion. When I tried to pour on some tomato ketchup, the sachet splurged onto my suit trousers - fucking hell.
We hadn’t missed much by arriving late - the first-half was characterised by sloppiness and mistakes from both teams, with genuine openings few and far between. It’s almost like this competition is last on the series of priorities. The greater entertainment was the chants bouncing between the two sets of supporters far away to our right. Bradford’s 2,500 in the Pink Link (chuckle) Stand were fantastic and the louder of the two by some way. The home fans, smug in their 36-game unbeaten league run and genuine chance of reaching the Championship this season, simply replied that Bradford were going down. It could happen to be fair, there have rarely been such dramatic declines and now they 90th out of the 92. Imagine that lot in the non-league. Crazy.
We were already in the queue for the obligatory half-time pint of lukewarm Tetley's when the best chance of the half occurred - Lee Novak prodded in a header from Alan Lee, only to see it chalked off (incorrectly) by the linesman’s flag. It must have been the wrong decision, as the video replays on the concourse froze at the moment of impact for about two minutes so that everyone in the pie queue could share in the great injustice. At this point, we realised we that the TV monitor we were staring fixedly at was uncomfortably close to the men’s toilets and we were holding pints as though watching blokes emerge zipping up their trousers was an acceptable form of entertainment in Huddersfield on a Tuesday night.
Mercifully, the second-half exploded into life and another 2-2 draw unfolded. Bradford opened the scoring ten minutes in as Anthony Kay plonked the ball past his own keeper from a devilish free-kick which he had conceded. Not a great couple of minutes for the half-time sub. The Pink Link went mental and at least one fan was dragged away by the army of stewards.
The lead lasted just seven minutes - Tommy Miller scored his first goal in Huddersfield colours from the penalty spot after Guy Branston manhandled Peter Clarke at a corner. 1-1. Now both sets of fans were going hammer and tongs, and this hitherto forgettable game was igniting nicely. But Bradford had some resolve and restored the lead two minutes later. Big centre-back Luke Oliver was allowed the freedom of West Yorkshire to storm in and head the visitors into the lead again. More mental-ness.
The pendulum swung back and Huddersfield’s equaliser seemed inevitable - League One class was starting to prevail. Sure enough, Peter Clarke smashed home a volley from eight yards out for two-apiece shortly afterwards and this match was becoming a carbon copy of the classic I witnessed in this competition at Hillsborough this time last year.
Huddersfield saw a good half-dozen chances go begging in the closing stages and we went to penalties. This was annoying, as both me and Andrew really wanted to go home. I also wanted to visit the Hudders kebab house to get the taste of cheese, cum and onion out of my mouth. Kay completed a miserable night for himself by blazing his spot-kick into the deserted Fantastic Media (chuckle) Stand. Perhaps he’ll be ostracised for his sins like Jamie McCombe. Tommy Miller had earlier missed and so the night belonged to ice-cool Bradford, who might be starting to think of Wembley already.
Next Match: Back on the road with Boston on Saturday, with Altrincham the destination.