Sports

Every little thing’s gonna be alright

Huddersfield Town Chelsea Dec 2017 2

Come Andre Marriner’s final whistle, all hair was matted to heads like greasers at a roller rink — happy days, if you could believe it — and all shades of Levi’s had long since been turned the darkest of blues.

We shivered together, a huddled mass each with at least one leg trembling against concrete, but not because what we were witnessing on this Tuesday night could ever be confused with spine tingling football.

And still, and yet, the voices of a city, a town, soared as the home supporters gave as good as they got — better, thanks to math and an organization the German-American gaffer would have commended.

Depoitre, on as a late sub, finding the back of the net less than twenty minutes after stripping away his training jacket, and two minutes into stoppage time, wasn’t enough to erase Willian and Pedro’s goals on either side of halftime. His feat did, however, serve the soggy sea of baby blue stripes something worthy of a gloved fist punch into the wet night air — a dominate arm rising along with a weighty exhale of consolatory joy toward the light.

Huddersfield Town Chelsea Dec 2017 john smith's lights

The order of things in the footballing universe would have had a newly promoted club being on the end of a bare bottom spanking, even at home, in front of their boisterous faithful, to the reigning champs, even with the holder’s missing their Spanish #9.

And so it was.

Despite a 3-1 scoreline that flattered to deceive, no one in West Yorkshire was too upset.

This was a lashing at the hands of Chelsea Football Club but Huddersfield Town supporters were hanging their heads as they filed out of John Smith’s Stadium only to avoid raindrops pouring into their bright, ever hopeful eyes like bath water in a tub that’s had the plug pulled.

There was no shame in the performance on the pitch or in the stands. No one in Huddersfield was pulling the plug on this season, on their boys sticking around in the top flight for a second set of 38 matches against the likes of City, United, and so on.

That Huddersfield’s rail station, an imposing pre-war structure with a protruding Back To The Future metal lightning rod rising from a stone clock tower, is flanked on both ends by pubs, and that one of those pubs is essentially four squarish pubs in one, is the most British thing possible. Even a non-drinker had to smile, which I did then and repeatedly from there.

It’s in there, inside the front right square pub of the Head of Steam, where my one evening in Huddersfield began. A clink of glass and a few pounds thrown down onto the dark redwood table, and we were back outside, moving together toward the stadium, dodging raindrops while telling our stories of how we came to be right here in this moment.

Huddersfield Town Chelsea Dec 2017 fish and chips

An order of fish and chips to be shared with a local, a new friend, was ordered and we queued outside the tiny shop to await our dinner — shuffling feet and blowing warm moist air into cold dry hands.

The flaky haddock melted in my mouth as we double-timed-it across the street away from The Chip ‘Oyle, toward the John Smith’s. The dank rain, upon landing a splashy punch onto the fish, created double the steam from the paper basket struggling to retain its shape.

Huddersfield Town Chelsea Dec 2017 3

What a privilege it was to have a seat inside a beautiful football ground with wonderful home support, in the north of England, under the lights, against the Blues from London.

Freezing temperatures and an unforgiving rain that too wouldn’t quit only dampened the pies and the chips, it did nothing to temper the fondness this town has for its Town.

Huddersfield did not get a result versus Chelsea, but from the terraces rained down a chorus of “Don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing’s, gonna be alright” and I believed it.

I believe it.

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