THE last high-profile derby occasion between Huddersfield Town and Barnsley at the John Smith’s Stadium was famously labelled as ‘Survival Saturday’.
That arrived on May 4, 2013 when a post-match ‘love-in’ ensued between Town and Reds fans amid joyous scenes at the final whistle as both staved off the Championship drop amid hearty cries of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire.’
A bumper White Rose crowd will converge again today, but the sense of heightened expectation is nothing to do with securing points to stave off relegation this time around, quite the opposite in fact.
Both head into today’s game on the back of a vintage week and while hosts Town have the benefit of an extra day’s preparation, Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom is keen to make hay while the sun shines for his in-form side – with today being the first leg of a mouth-watering derby double-header with the Reds hosting Rotherham United next weekend at Oakwell
Heckingbottom, who could field the same starting line-up for the third match running, said: “We have got to continue expressing ourselves and playing the game with no fear.
“We are thriving on it at the minute. But we have to take every single point because there will be real challenges down in the league this season and you are naive if you think they are not going to be. Every single point matters now.”
Heckingbottom, who admits that interest in star defender Alfie Mawson is growing – although he insists that the club would not envisage selling him before a replacement is secured – watched Town’s impressive midweek draw at Villa Park and felt they acquitted themselves well.
He added: “Villa were the better team in the first half. But Huddersfield stuck in there and made a couple of gains around the hour mark and got stronger. We know what they bring.
“There are two derby games coming up after two good tests with big sides. It is a case of bringing it on.
“Our fans know that we have a team who gives everything and we are going to enjoy it together and try our hardest.”