Stand up if you love Leeds Road

Huddersfield Town story posted by Sean Makin on 01/11/2013
written by Gerard Vance who you can follow on Twitter @Terrier78Stand up if you love Leeds Road

I didn't always support Town, I was "between clubs" in November 1991. I didn't really support anyone, my Dad, a Leeds supporter took me to Elland Road on many occasions in an effort to get me to support his beloved Leeds but I just wasn't interested. That November though I was going to nail my colours firmly to a mast and those colours were of Huddersfield Town.

I can still remember the first time I climbed the steps behind the Cowshed at Leeds Road and looked out onto the floodlit pitch. It was a midweek match in the league cup against Sunderland who were a division higher. We won and scored 4, a few weeks later we stuck 7 past Lincoln United in the FA Cup, I was already hooked. It wouldn't be long before I came back down to earth but by that point I was a Town man through and through.

Now 35 I look back at this time and where we are now as a club and the gap in everything is just huge, Leeds Road was falling to pieces, it was mainly standing, the only away team that brought more than 20 fans were Burnley and that was for the fight, we had unambitious chairmen and no long term plans. I spent countless hours shouting "Sack the board" outside the ground. Skip forward to today and we watch games in relative comfort, in safety, we are competitive and we are ambitious and we have the perfect Chairman. So here is the strange thing - I miss Leeds Road. Mostly, I miss the atmosphere. There might only have been 4 or 5 hundred fans in the Cowshed but we sang for most of the game, there were some real characters in there and no matter how bad things got (and they got bad) the atmosphere was jovial.

The atmosphere at the John Smiths has been well documented and you can almost hear a pin drop some weeks. There have been attempts to try and improve it. In the late 90's we had the band which was in the same mould as the Sheffield Wednesday one but that petered out, I actually remember them getting so fed up at one game with the participation of the fans that they started playing the Coronation Street theme tune. We have tried fans behind the goal; we even piped crowd noise through a couple of years ago before kick off. A far cry from the early nineties when as the players came out we sang every player's name one by one. It wasn't very inventive, normally it was "There's only one " or "Oooo " or even just the persons First name shouted repeatedly, we did have a few special ones, Iain Dunn obviously being the main one.

Whilst we had some good players back then (Starbuck, Charlton, Roberts, Marsden), we also had some bad ones and I truly believe the crowd played a big part over this period to carry us over the line in some games. I think that the crowd plays their own part and intimidating atmospheres give teams a lift and put the opposition on the back foot a little. We still have that sort of support away from home but then again, most teams do. I'm not saying we become like Millwall or have some gimmick like Man City, just the odd song to get the players going from time to time. Even if that crowd only indirectly helps us get another point or two, this could be crucial to going up or even staying up.

Over the years I have slowly given in to the idea that this is how it will always be. The days of Leeds Road are gone, in order to get to the promise land something had to be sacrificed and in our case it was atmosphere. We are in a new age of football, it is now a modern business, with partnerships with other businesses being the key, the Corporate prawn sandwich brigade, health and safety, and prices that make a lot think twice when choosing where to go on a Saturday afternoon. It means we pay more, but we are safer, we are more comfortable and we can use the extra revenues to pay for better players etc. Huddersfield is a family club, a club looking to progress on and off the pitch, this is the future of the club and where people sit is not I imagine, a big priority.

A lot of people believe the answer is to have fans behind the goal but a non-footballing reason forbids us from this but would this really solve things? After all, you can still sing, no matter where you are sat. It only takes 2 or 3 hundred to make a noise, like those days in the Cowshed. Maybe it's just a case that those "characters" I remember from Leeds Road have been priced out of the game, maybe they grew up and had young families and can't afford the outlay of a 3 or 4 tickets or maybe like so many they spend their days being dragged round the Trinity Shopping Centre by their wives.

Part of me just thinks that it may be nostalgia taking over and that the reality was very different, in the same way as people rave about 80's TV shows that they used to watch and then they re-watch them and realize they were actually rubbish. In fact, I can remember plenty of things about Leeds Road I didn't like, there was no-one there most weeks, the football was mostly average and it had the sort of facilities you expect in a third world country.

Recently the subject of safe standing has cropped up and I can't help feeling that this also could lend itself to wanting to recapture those memories, the heaving terrace moments where the crowd sways and surges on a cold Tuesday night. Is this going to spring us back to the good old days again? I doubt it. It will probably end up with a load of middle aged men moaning about being on their feet for too long and kids who wonder what the fuss was about. There is a difference between standing up because that is the majority layout of a stadium and choosing to stand up. When all is said and done I would suggest that most would prefer sitting.

Me? Well I'd like to go back to when I was 14, I'd be stood in the Cowshed, ideally I would be watching the 2013 team but with Marsden and Starbuck in midfield and there would be a comfy armchair which I could sit back in if my legs got a bit sore (well I'm not a teenager anymore). Anyway, I'm going to leave it here, I have to work out a new song for Adam Clayton for this weekend. I'm thinking "Adam! Adam! Adam!".


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