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Huddersfield Town's incredible journey to the top flight

Huddersfield Town sensationally secured promotion to the top flight of English football after a 45-year absence this season.

The Terriers will compete against the likes of Manchester united, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal next term, after defying the odds to snatch a monumental promotion to the Premier League.

Many pundits had written the underdogs off, with Ian Holloway infamously predicting relegation for the West Yorkshire outfit.

Tommy Smith on the 'no limits' mentality

But how they proved the now Queens Park Rangers manager wrong.

The season started with a six-match unbeaten run, with the Terriers claiming the scalps of Championship favourites Newcastle United, high-flying Barnsley and fierce rivals Leeds United.

Losses to Brighton, reading and Sheffield Wednesday all came by a one-goal margin for Town, who continued to stake their claim for a play-off spot early in the season.
But a wobble from October into November saw the Terriers drop out of the play-off zone for one matchweek.

That would be the only week outside the top six for David Wagner's warriors.

An unbeaten December led into an exceptional January, with the Terriers again not losing a match in the month of February.

The six-game month included wins over promotion-tipped Brighton, play-off pushing Reading and arch rivals Leeds United - not to mention a victory over Holloway's QPR.

Despite a lean streak over April, Town secured play-off football with a 1-0 win over Wolves.

But once again the Terriers were written off heading into the play-offs, with their form a concern for fans and pundits alike.

Here you can relive the stunning play-off campaign starting with the first leg of the Championship play-of semi-final between Town and Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday...

Huddersfield Town vs Sheffield Wednesday:
Let battle commence

Match report

David Wagner's men had home advantage in the first leg of the Play-Off semi final against Sheffield Wednesday but were unable to break down a stubborn Owls side.

The Terriers dominated a largely negative Sheffield Wednesday throughout in front of a buoyant John Smith’s Stadium crowd as the visitors’ tactical game plan of stifling Town paid off.

Despite their insistence on slowing down the game at every opportunity – as well as some dubious gamesmanship – Carlos Carvalhal was the happier of the two bosses heading into the return clash.

Town had their chances but too often were unable to convert their possession into a clinical edge – an issue symptomatic in what had otherwise been an incredible campaign for the club.

Wagner had an almost full-strength squad to select from, other than long-term injury absentees Philip Billing, Jon Gorenc Stankovic and Kasey Palmer, while Danny Ward sat the game out through suspension.

The display before the play-off semi-final first leg

The Welshman’s red card against Cardiff City in the final match of the regular season paved the way for Joel Coleman to start in goal for Town with Nahki Wells also coming in for Collin Quaner up front.

The third change to the side brought the welcome return of top scorer Elias Kachunga, who had missed the last four league encounters due to a calf injury, replacing Sean Scannell on the right side of the attacking trio.

Town’s fans created a scene of wild excitement and celebration - flags waving, clappers clapping and supporters jumping – mixed with the nervous anticipation a derby brings, particularly one of this magnitude.

But Town, making their first ever appearance in the second tier play-offs, weren’t overawed and started the brighter of the two sides, taking the game to Sheffield Wednesday.

Yet, despite dictating the opening 20 minutes, there was little of note for either goalkeeper to do, with the Owls more than content to let Town play out from the back and soak up the resultant pressure.

Minutes later Town’s first real opportunity presented itself as Wells flicked Chris Lowe’s cross into the box but Izzy Brown, leaning backwards, could only scuff his shot onto the top of the bar.

As the referee blew for the end of the first-half, Town would have felt disappointed not to have made their dominance count in the opening exchanges.

Much of the frustration would have been Town’s lack of a killer final ball when it mattered, similarly Wednesday’s tactically astute game plan to dig in and pick their moment to strike.

The Owls clearly came to the John Smith’s with the objective of going back to Hillsborough for the second-leg with the minimum of a stalemate and, although a somewhat negative approach, it worked in the opening 45 minutes.

David Wagner reflects on the goalless draw

The second-half started with more of the same with Town the only side looking to win the game. Wells tried a delicate chip over Keiren Westwood, but the Wednesday keeper tipped the effort over the bar.

It wasn’t to be for Town and they headed into the second leg at Hillsborough with a stalemate.

Run of the ball

8 Minutes: Great determination from Kachunga who wins the ball and feeds Mooy on the edge of the box. The Aussie drags his left-footed shot wide.

23 Minutes: Lowe’s blocked cross is flicked on brilliantly by Wells and Brown’s effort flicks the top of the bar and lands on the roof of the net.

56 Minutes: Wells tries an audacious chip from outside the area. Westwood just tips over.

57 Minutes: Reach goes on a diagonal run across the box and his left-footed shot drifts wide of the post.

65 Minutes: Wells gets in front of his man to connect with Mooy’s delivery, but his flick loops over the bar.

70 Minutes: Smith sneaks in behind the Wednesday defence after a great ball from Mooy, but he can’t keep his effort down.

72 Minutes: Wells latches on to a deflected cross and it’s only a superb save by Westwood that keeps the scores level.

84 Minutes: Bannan picks up the ball and pushes forward, unleashing a shot from 30 yards. It’s high and wide but not too far off target.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Huddersfield Town:
All to play for

Match report

Huddersfield Town’s stunning Championship campaign under head coach David Wagner would end at Wembley after on-loan keeper Danny Ward proved a penalty shoot-out hero against Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off semi-final second leg.

The 23-year-old Wales international pulled off saves from Sam Hutchinson and Fernando Forestieri in the penalty shoot-out to decide the contest after the second leg went to extra time following a 1-1 draw.

As expected there was only one change to the starting line-up with Ward replacing Joel Coleman in goal after serving a one-match suspension in the previous leg.

The contest was finely poised after the goalless draw at the John Smith’s Stadium last Sunday with the tie having all the makings of a classic clash under the Hillsborough floodlights.

And, in front of a raucous rain soaked home crowd, David Wagner’s men were not fazed in the opening exchanges as Sheffield Wednesday suffered an early blow with Ross Wallace forced off with a hamstring injury in the fifth minute.

The players rush towards the Town fans

The opening quarter of an hour produced a surprisingly open affair without either side really having a clear sight of goal, and Town impressed with their desire to take the game to their counterparts.

Yet it was Sheffield Wednesday with the first opportunity to draw blood – Adam Reach showing great technique to force Ward into a fine save with Steven Fletcher ruled offside from the rebound.

Minutes later Town should have opened the scoring as Rajiv van La Parra found Nahki Wells down the left, with the forward feeding Izzy Brown only for the on-loan Chelsea forward to fire wide from eight yards out.

As the decibels raised so did the game’s intensity – Steven Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri linked up well and Sam Hutchinson blazed over the bar as the home side began to turn the screw.

But Town continued to prove to be more than their match and probably should have had a penalty in the 38th minute when Wells went down in the box, but referee Andre Marriner waved away the appeals.

At half time it was honours even but with Huddersfield Town arguably the happier of the two sides - yet the Terriers again were ruing their inability to convert their chances.

The second-half started with the same ferocious intensity as the first, but it was Wednesday who broke the deadlock as Fletcher’s towering header sent Hillsborough rocking in the 51st minute.

Town celebrate at Hillsborough

But the strength of David Wagner’s side throughout the campaign was their ability to react in the face of adversity and respond positively.

And just as Sheffield Wednesday looked to be growing in confidence after taking the lead, Town dug-in and found a response to send the travelling away support into delirium.

A superb ball from Izzy Brown found substitute Collin Quaner who expertly squared the ball to Wells who looked to have scored - but it later went down as a Lee own goal.

The final 20 end-to-end minutes had everything – tackles flying in, saves being made and even blood being spilt by Jonathan Hogg.

But despite Wells being denied by an excellent save by Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood with five minutes of normal time remaining, there was no way through for either side.

And so the inevitability of extra-time after a pulsating 90 minutes of football was akin to two prize fighters going toe-to-toe in the 12 round, both physically spent but trading blows nevertheless.

Brown stung the palms of Westwood from distance; Ward denied former Town man Jordan Rhodes while Wells hit the side-netting when in good space.

The huddle after the penalty win at Hillsborough

It was heart-stopping, gripping drama with both sets of players a credit to their football clubs as the referee blew for the final chapter in this epic bout – penalties, a time for heroes and dreams to be made.

It was Ward who wrote his name into Town folklore and moved the fans' dreams of Wembley to reality.

Run of the ball

8 Minutes: Hefele makes a vital block. Corner to Wednesday.

12 Minutes: Mooy’s corner is flicked by a Wednesday head and it lands on the roof of the net. Another corner for Town.

19 Minutes: Great save by Ward to deny the hosts. He must have seen that one very late from a sharp angle.

26 Minutes: Brown goes narrowly wide from close range after a great ball from Wells!

29 Minutes: Huge chance for Wednesday, but Fletcher chooses to pass rather than shoot and his ball is behind Forestieri.

33 Minutes: A cross is nodded to Lees in the box, but he can’t keep his volley on target.

38 Minutes: Was that a foul on Wells by Westwood?! It looked like the keeper inadvertently took out the forward from the press box.

52 Minutes: Fletcher scores for Wednesday.

59 Minutes: Kachunga fires wide. Should have done better with the space he had in the box.

73 Minutes: Quaner makes the difference! He finds Wells with a cut-back and the Bermudian doesn’t miss!

How Huddersfield reacted to Ward's penalty save

82 Minutes: Town living dangerously, but just about scramble the ball away after a dangerous cross.

85 Minutes: Brilliant from Quaner again as he finds Wells - but Westwood makes a good save.

90 Minutes: Quaner sets up Wells, but good goalkeeping from Westwood keeps the Terriers out.

Reading FC vs Huddersfield Town:
From heroes to legends

Match report

Christopher Schindler scored the penalty which sent Town into the Premier League and sparked the biggest party Huddersfield will ever have seen.

He clinched a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Reading in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley after Danny Ward had saved a crucial kick from Jordan Obita.

Ward - hero of the semi-final shoot-out win over Sheffield Wednesday - had previously been beaten by Yann Kermorgant, Daniel Williams and Liam Kelly before Liam Moore blazed over the bar to give David Wagner’s battling heroes a lifeline.

Chris Lowe netted Town’s first before Michael Hefele, superb in 120 minutes, saw his effort saved.

Nahki Wells and Aaron Mooy held their nerve while Moore buckled.

Then, when Ward saved, record £1.8m signing Schindler sent 39,000 Town fans in a crowd of 76,682 into utter delirium.

The fans were magnificent throughout the whole showpiece, and now they can see their club - around £200m richer - taking on some of the biggest names in world football.

What a reward for chairman Dean Hoyle. And what a reward for the David Wagner revolution!

"I will always remember this day and tell the family about this - these are the moments you play football for.”

Christopher Schindler

Wagner made just one change to the 18 which defeated Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-finals, bringing back Chelsea loanee Kasey Palmer to the bench in place of Jack Payne.

The starting line-up remained the same, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tommy Smith captain and club captain Mark Hudson on the bench.

Reading were also unchanged but with one switch on the bench, Jordan Obita replacing Dutchman Danzell Gravenberch.

The tifo before the match

Skipper Paul McShane was suspended after being sent off in the first leg of their semi-final victory over Fulham, so right wing-back Chris Gunter led out the side, playing in a 3-5-2 formation.

The 39,000 Town fans in the stadium gave their team an unbelievable welcome, holding up cards with the yellow and black hoops as fireworks heralded the arrival of the players.

After a tense opening, Town had a great chance on five minutes, after a foul on Rajiv van La Parra. Aaron Mooy swung in the free kick from the left and Michael Hefele’s downward header was placed wide when he could easily have scored.

“I am so happy we are in the Premier League - we did it, we did the job and made the dream reality and I am so happy for this team, they deserve it.”

Michael Hefele

Town went even closer in the 10th minute after a raid down the right by Smith. Elias Kachunga passed the ball across the box and Chelsea loan man Izzy Brown somehow stabbed his shot wide of the unguarded target from no more than two yards.

Reading responded with a curling shot wide from Lewis Grabban, as both teams made good use of any space.

As Town continued to press, Reading centre-back Joey van den Berg was booked by referee Neil Swarbrick for hauling down Kachunga (16 minutes).

Jonathan Hogg was booked for Town on 28 minutes, for a late lunge on Daniel Williams, as the encounter started to get spicy in midfield.

Fans celebrate Schindler's winning penalty

Nahki Wells was getting little help from the referee, either, in the face of some strong challenges, but Town continued to look slick going forward up until half time.

The second half opened at pace with Lowe trying a long-range effort for Town and Danny Ward making a smart save to deny Swift.

Reading then had their best spell and Grabban had a half chance after getting wrong side of Hefele, but he lifted the shot wide.

“I'm delighted for the lads, for the club, for the chairman, the fans, everyone involved - what we've done today is a massive achievement."

Tommy Smith

Kachunga was booked for dissent on the hour mark as Town battled to get back into it, with Reading having 62% of second-half possession to that point.

Reading sent on Jordan Obita and switched to a flat back four, while Wagner replaced Kachunga with Collin Quaner, a move which worked so effectively against Sheffield Wednesday in the semis.

It was Town who had to defend, however, with Hefele making an outstanding block on Grabban to prevent a 71st-minute shot in the box.

"Now they are legends for sure. Everybody will remember what this group of players have done with a small budget. And they deserve it. This football club has written an unbelievable story.”

David Wagner

Smith went into the book for a foul on Williams 15 minutes from time before Town went close through Quaner, who didn’t know too much about Mooy’s drllled cross as he stabbed it wide.

Hefele intervened superbly at the back once more for Town to stop Yann Kermorgant as Reading pumped up the pressure in the final 10, respite coming when Smith went down injured and, unfortunately, was forced off. Martin Cranie took over at right back with 88 minutes on the clock and seven extra added.

Chris Gunter headed over for Reading from a dangerous position as Town protested for a foul on van La Parra, and there was still nothing to separate the teams.

Town fans jump for joy after Wembley triumph

Eight minutes into extra time, Wagner sent on Palmer to replace Brown and see if he could spark an opening as play slowed almost to walking pace.

Stam responded by replacing Swift with Liam Kelly and Reading raided to provide a hot for McCleary, but it drifted wide.

Town had an escape on 105 minutes as no-one picked up McCleary on the edge of the box and his crisp low 18-yarder was inches wide of Ward’s left hand post.

“I’ve been supporting this club since 1969. To be a Premier League team now is a dream come true. It’s huge what it means for Huddersfield - we’re on the big stage."

Dean Hoyle

At the break, Wagner went on with specific instructions for Palmer, which were then reinforced by assistant Chrisoph Buhler.

Hogg got a stern talking to from referee Swarbrick after catching Gunter with a late challenge in the 10th minute of second-half extra time.

Then, with four minutes remaining, Wells had a decent chance inside the box from Palmer’s right-wing cross but turned his shot wide.

Then, in the final seconds, Lowe just overhit a free-kick for Cranie at the back post, meaning the game went into those nerve-jangling penalties.

Run of the ball

6 Minutes: Hefele heads inches wide of the post! Should have scored from there.

10 Minutes: Great build up down the right leaves Kachunga with a strike, but Brown can’t convert a glorious chance at the back post!

Mel Booth reacts to Town's promotion to the Premier League

11 Minutes: Grabban gets free and bends a shot just wide of Ward’s post.

16 Minutes: Joey van den Berg booked for Reading after a foul on Kachunga.

21 Minutes: Chris Lowe gets treatment after a clash with Chris Gunter.

29 Minutes: Jonathan Hogg booked for a foul on Daniel Williams.

34 Minutes: John Swift hits 35-yard free kick hopelessly wide.

35 Minutes: Long-range shot from van den Berg is way over.

46 Minutes: Lowe hits a long-range shot but it’s straight at Al Habsi.

47 Minutes: Danny Ward saves well from Swift

57 Minutes: Kermorgant plays Grabban in, but his chipped effort drifts wide.

76 Minutes: Mooy skips away from two me and drives into the box - Quaner can’t get his feet sorted to convert.

81 Minutes: Another sensational tackle by Hefele to deny Kermorgant.

90+2 Minutes: Gunter heads over for Reading.

101 Minutes: McCleary shoots wide for Reading.

105 Minutes: McCleary goes inches wide.

Town return to Huddersfield:
A hero's welcome

Around 25,000 Town fans celebrated the club’s historic triumph at Wembley with a massive party in St George’s Square.

The fun began at the John Smith’s Stadium in Leeds Road after 5.30pm with the players travelling the short distance to the town centre on an open deck coach.

The atmosphere was electric and when AC/DC’s classic rock anthem Back in Black began blasting out over the sound system there was no stopping the party spirit.

Town players celebrated their new Premier League status on stage with head coach David Wagner and chairman Dean Hoyle.

Amanda Senior, a wedding celebrant from Lepton said: “It’s a great day for Town and we all like a good party. It’s been a wonderful season.”

Joe Sutcliffe, a 47-year-old English teacher who used to play for Huddersfield Town youth team, said: “David Wagner is the German magician, the alchemist who turned the bottom of the table team into Premiership gold.”

While Christine Talbot, Calendar YTV presenter, showed off some dance moves on the stage.

She said: “I think it’s fantastic. A party to end all parties!”

David Wagner leads the celebrations

Fans who waited to the see the Town players at the stadium took their chance to hop onto the open top bus for a quick look around. And some were lucky enough to get a chat with chairman Dean Hoyle.

Mark Cooney, 27, of Dalton, praised Town players for their “cool heads” at Wembley.

He is looking forward to seeing Manchester United and Liverpool at the John Smith’s Stadium.

He said: “There are so many good teams I am spoilt for choice.”

And Richard Gee, 59, a Terrier for 40 years, said: “I have never seen anything like this and I never thought I would see it. It was Dean Hoyle’s dream and I have so much respect for that man.”

Town centre police sergeant and keen Town fan Mandy Mellor said a colleague had told her 25,000 fans had crowded into the square.

The players celebrate at Kings Bar

“It’s fabulous” she said.

Neil Brook, a retired postman from Crosland Moor, waxed nostalgic saying how he remembered being lifted over the Leeds Road turnstile by his dad Ben in 1952. He said: “I can’t wait for the party to start.”

Lifelong Town fan Dale Abbott of Netherton joked: “Party time! I can’t stop smiling never mind Smile a While!”

Bruce Travis, landlord of the King’s Arms in the square, said the economic impact of Premier League status “was a great opportunity” for the town to take advantage.

And retired commercial lawyer Simon Anderson, 51, of Lindley added: “I think it’s the boost that the town needs and I only hope the decision-makers of Kirklees get their act together and ride in on the back of it.”

Town in the Premier League:
What next?

It’s the day many fans thought they would never see – Huddersfield Town are in the Premier League!

The fantastic Wembley success against Reading has catapulted Town to a whole new ball game both on and off the pitch.

No more Barnsley and Burton to think about for 2017-18.

Bring on Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal instead – and book another trip to Wembley because that’s where Tottenham are playing their home matches next season.

It’s a mouthwatering prospect.

Aussie fan's emotional reaction to Town's promotion

The fixtures for Town's debut Premier League season have now been revealed.

The big kick-off is on the weekend of Saturday, August 12, when David Wagner’s side host...

Here's the full breakdown of the fixtures:

12/08/17 15:00 Crystal Palace (a)

19/08/17 15:00 Newcastle United (h)

26/08/17 15:00 Southampton (h)

09/09/17 15:00 West Ham United (a)

16/09/17 15:00 Leicester City (h)

23/09/17 15:00 Burnley (a)

30/09/17 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur (h)

14/10/17 15:00 Swansea City (a)

21/10/17 15:00 Manchester United (h)

28/10/17 15:00 Liverpool (a)

04/11/17 15:00 West Bromwich Albion (h)

18/11/17 15:00 Bournemouth (a)

25/11/17 15:00 Manchester City (h)

28/11/17 19:45 Arsenal (a)

02/12/17 15:00 Everton (a)

09/12/17 15:00 Brighton and Hove Albion (h)

12/12/17 19:45 Chelsea (h)

16/12/17 15:00 Watford (a)

23/12/17 15:00 Southampton (a)

26/12/17 15:00 Stoke City (h)

30/12/17 15:00 Burnley (h)

01/01/18 15:00 Leicester City (a)

13/01/18 15:00 West Ham United (h)

20/01/18 15:00 Stoke City (a)

30/01/18 19:45 Liverpool (h)

03/02/18 15:00 Manchester United (a)

10/02/18 15:00 Bournemouth (h)

24/02/18 15:00 West Bromwich Albion (a)

03/03/18 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur (a)

10/03/18 15:00 Swansea City (h)

17/03/18 15:00 Crystal Palace (h)

31/03/18 15:00 Newcastle United (a)

07/04/18 15:00 Brighton and Hove Albion (a)

14/04/18 15:00 Watford (h)

21/04/18 15:00 Chelsea (a)

28/04/18 15:00 Everton (h)

05/05/18 15:00 Manchester City (a)

13/05/18 15:00 Arsenal (h)

Wagner wasn’t born the last time Town got promoted to the highest echelon back in 1969-70, when the likes of Terry Poole, Roy Ellam, Trevor Cherry, Jimmy Nicholson, Jimmy Lawson and Frank Worthington were the triumphant club heroes.

Now add the names of Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Chris Lowe, Elias Kachunga, Tommy Smith and Jonathan Hogg to that list.

Just weeks after selling 17,500 season cards at the fabulous price of £199, these new Town stars have achieved what many thought was impossible.

The atmosphere will be crackling inside the John Smith’s for every home game, but you can be sure there will be one particularly special fixture for Wagner.

The dates when Town play Liverpool home and away will probably be the first he looks for as he does battle with his close friend Jurgen Klopp, the Anfield boss who has guided his club into the Champions League next season.

No more pre-season friendlies between the two, this is serious business.

Jurgen Klopp on Huddersfield Town's Hillsborough shootout

If Wagner is excited along with every single Town fan around the globe, what about chairman Dean Hoyle?

A lifelong fan himself, he’ll be bursting with pride at the achievement, not even a decade on from taking charge of the club.

He’ll be seeing his team taking on some of the best players in the world on the most high-profile stage of them all.

Commercially it’s massive – everyone talks about the play-off final being the richest in club football and worth around £200m – so Town will be operating on a whole new financial platform.

Having built so solidly to get Town promoted twice in his tenure, Hoyle is sure to have the long-term interests of the club at the forefront of his planning.

But Hoyle deserves every bit of praise going, not only for his personal investment in moving Town to this point, but in creating a training complex to be proud of at PPG Canalside, an atmosphere in the stadium to be proud of and, most importantly of all, a team to be proud of on the pitch.

Well done Town and bring it on.

Premier League here we come!

Next job will be to match last season’s squad-building over the summer window and create a playing roster with just one objective – to stay up!

Huddersfield Town 2016/17