The play-offs; ecstasy, heartbreak, nerves and excitement in equal measure. All your senses are heightened; the air bites sharper, the beer tastes sweeter, the pitch glows under the lights, you can feel the terraces shaking with every inch of your body.
The Terriers had secured a third place finish, and following a vital draw in the first leg on the south coast, would play hosts for the second and on the 18 May 2011, we were treated to a football match, the likes of which happen on very rare occasions.
Having experienced crowds of 20,000+ this season, the 16,444 that were in attendance seems low in comparison, but it didn’t back then. It felt as though every Town fan, from every generation, was there.
And if my memory serves me correctly this game was the first to feature the “clappers”, the rattling of which provided the soundtrack to the game.
The game got underway with Lee Clark’s side playing the high tempo football we’d come to love. Town were quick to take control, Roberts was at the heart of every Huddersfield attack in the early exchanges. It would be Roberts who would supply a devilish corner, met by the ever reliable Lee Peltier (who was switched to CM for this tie), and ignite wild celebrations amongst the home faithful.
History would repeat itself from the first leg as Bournemouth were handed the chance to level from 12 yards, a reckless lunge from Peter Clarke gave the referee no option. Bennett could not replicate his heroics as Lovell thundered his penalty into the roof of the net.
In the dying seconds of the first half, the Terriers would retake the lead when a sharp turn created space for Danny Ward to drive a low left-footed past Jalal.
HT: Town 2 Bournemouth 1
Lovell was doing his best to be the villain of the piece, and when he received a cut back; he skipped over a challenge, rounded Bennett and fired in from a tight angle leaving the sides deadlocked once more.
Lee Clark was as animated as ever, as Bournemouth continued to soak up pressure while looking increasingly dangerous on the counter-attack.
Roberts, whose man-of-the-match performance deserved a goal, looked Huddersfield’s best route to a third, and despite his best efforts the referee’s whistle soon signalled extra time.
FT: Town 2 Bournemouth 2
Some neat play and a wicked cross from the Bournemouth left resulted in Ings putting the Cherries ahead for the first time in the tie, the home faithful suspected that their journey was coming to an end.
The players, however, had other ideas; Town, unbeaten since the turn of the year, called on their character and struck back immediately, another excellent Roberts corner was headed in by Kay.
With penalties approaching, Pearce was shown a straight red card but sadly Huddersfield were unable to make their one-man advantage pay.
E.T FT: Town 3 Bournemouth 3
Both sides had given their all over the 120 minutes, and as the teams huddled, player after player took that long lonely walk, dragging their tired legs, desperately trying to contain their nerves and find any remaining energy.
The visitors were up first and held their nerve, quickly followed by the Terriers. Feeney would be the first to miss; a tame penalty pounced upon by Bennett. Danny Ward’s whipped penalty was struck too well for the keeper to get close.
Robinson, who would sign for Town later that summer, would see his penalty cannon off the crossbar. Enter Zidane Kilbane and his trusty left foot. 3-1 Town.
Bournemouth would score a second, but the tie and trip to Old Trafford was Town’s when Antony Kay confidently curled his spot kick, with a little help from the crossbar, into the top corner.
As the crowd exploded and the team charged forward to swarm Kay, my attentions were drawn to the unbelievable respect shown by our skipper Clarke, who before joining the celebrations, shook the hands of his opponents.
I hope we don’t have to endure something like this again, but it is fair to say that this match is arguably one of my favourite footballing memories.
Ooh to be a…