Danny Wilson initially had to fight to win over Blades fans.

by Kieran Mather

Two words that aren’t received all too well in certain parts of Yorkshire are “Play Offs.” Neither Sheffield United or Huddersfield Town can boast a success since the system was put implemented twenty-five years ago but for one team that is all about to change.

The 2011-12 season saw Huddersfield’s unbeaten Football League record continue until February where a shock change of management half way through the season saw Lee Clarke depart to make way for Simon Grayson, a man who has success under his belt with Blackpool. The Terries were perched in 2nd place until the February 14th when visiting Sheffield United came and won 0-1 resulting in the removal of Lee Clarke. The first meeting between the two at Bramall Lane however saw a very different result in a lesser game in terms of pressure which saw the West Yorkshire men beating those from South Yorkshire 0-3.

It was Sheffield United who passed Huddersfield into 2nd place on that Tuesday night in February and they held that second spot right up until the second to last game of the season. Then, at the worst possible moment, a run of 3 games saw the Blades drop 7 pts that allowed bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday to claim a return to the Championship. The Blades final tally was 90 points so they can consider themselves extremely unfortunate.

So Play Offs it is, and we all know about the two main strikers for these teams; of Jordan Rhodes’ 40 goals so far this season, and that of Ched Evans’ 35 goals prior to April. Huddersfield however don’t rely on the goals from Rhodes to carry them through, strike partner Lee Novak has chipped in with 13 goals as has Sheffield United’s Lee Williamson. The Huddersfield bench is also likely to host Irishman Alan Lee who has contributed with 7 goals this season but has proved himself as a nuisance on the pitch and makes his presence known. If involved in the final he will sure be a handful for United’s Harry Maguire to keep quiet on the huge Wembley pitch. Huddersfield themselves were resigned to the play offs a while back after a 0-2 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday all but ended their automatic promotion dreams meaning Grayson has been able to rest players and rotate when necessary whereas United have had it all to play for every week for the closing quarter of the season.

Danny Wilson’s men have a bit of a stretched squad. Club captain Nick Montgomery made his first appearance at Bramall Lane for months last Monday in the second half to replace injured Kevin MacDonald, Will Hoskins returned to Brighton with a hernia, James Beattie is suspended and Richard Cresswell’s fitness is questionable. So the Blades will be lining up as a 4-5-1 set-up most likely with Chris Porter playing in front of Stephen Quinn who will roam freely. It’s a system that’s been in place for the play off campaign and has come good for them now they’re in the Wembley final. The Blades have however come through the semi finals without conceding a single goal, something goal keeper Steve Simonsen believes will be the foundation for the Blades to make a return to the championship. Watching both semi finals it’s hard to look past the difference in attacking ability in the two teams but it was also hard to see if Stevenage would be able to break through the Sheffield United back four. So it really is going to be a tightly fought game, possibly open but more than likely it’ll be the sides composure and concentration over 90 minutes that will be key.

They’ve all been here before with United fans experiencing anguish in a lost Championship Play Off final against Burnley in 2009 and manager Danny Wilson will be shaking off ominous vibes due to missing out with Swindon last year against Millwall. So all at Bramall Lane are determined for a change in fortune.

Huddersfield fans and players will be all too familiar with last season’s final at Old Trafford that ended up in a 0-3 defeat to Peterborough. So they’re no strangers here to the pressure of a 46 game season boiling down to 90 minutes in front of nearly 80,000 fans. Unfortunately for one set of supporters the “Wembley curse” won’t be broken and it’ll be the likes of Crawley, Shrewsbury and Stevenage rather than Bolton, Blackburn and Leeds.

Whichever way it goes, the Football League Championship will gain another Yorkshire club with excellent footballers and fans. A club with ambition and prospects for next season, League 1 will have retained a team which – you would think – could be here again next season. Either way it is more than likely that a lot of the players involved this Saturday wont be involved in this league next season and each and every one of them will be hoping to sign off with a win.