Richard Sutcliffe: Season to be merry for county’s supporters with fortunes rising

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“EMERGENCY loan,” began the song to the tune of Sloop John B by The Beach Boys as Leeds United stumbled towards defeat at home to Reading last weekend. “Emergency loan, we can’t wait ‘til January...Emergency loan.”

The Gelderd End’s verdict on the abject manner of United’s performance was understandable, Simon Grayson’s side having played so poorly that it is doubtful they would have scored an equaliser had the game continued to midnight.

But to someone who watches football all over the county, what this sign of dissent did do – by being a rare occurrence of fans turning on their own team – was underline that the 2011-12 campaign has been a decent one so far for the White Rose county.

Okay, none of our 10 senior clubs are running away with a division or even close to reaching a Wembley final. But, as we approach the halfway stage, there are certainly more success stories than tales of woe within the Broad Acres.

Hull City, Middlesbrough and Leeds United occupy three of the four play-off positions in the Championship and are snapping at the heels of Southampton and West Ham United.

A tier below, the picture is even more encouraging with the two Sheffield clubs sitting second and third with Huddersfield Town a further two points behind in fourth.

Even in League Two where Bradford City have endured another miserable few months and Rotherham United lost their way badly as autumn turned to winter, there are encouraging signs of life at both the Don Valley Stadium and Valley Parade to suggest 2012 may well be a decent year after all.

In the Championship, it is surely fair to say all three of our clubs occupying a place in the top six are exceeding expectations – a point underlined by a glance back at the Yorkshire Post’s four-page pull-out to preview the season on August 1.

The three supporters whose informed half-term reports you can again read elsewhere on this page today all tipped their respective clubs for a mid-table finish in the Championship.

That may turn out to be true, of course, but the signs are encouraging – even allowing for the Elland Road crowd’s tongue-in-cheek reaction to last Saturday’s defeat to Reading by calling for the club to try and bring in reinforcements ahead of the transfer window opening in the New Year.

Barnsley, too, can be pleased with their showing so far with Keith Hill’s side being a lot closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone and a fruitful Christmas and New Year could well set the tone for a concerted push for the top six.

Across South Yorkshire, Doncaster Rovers have endured a difficult season – the tone being set on the opening day when Billy Sharp scored but was then injured as Brighton & Hove Albion came back to snatch all three points in stoppage time.

Since then, there have been another 12 defeats plus the departure of Sean O’Driscoll for Rovers fans to contend with along with a major change of philosophy at the club thanks to the involvement of agent Willie McKay.

Just what the long-term implications will be are not known but, in terms of results, at least Doncaster have given their hopes of getting out of trouble a lift this month with home wins over leaders Southampton and big-spending Leicester City.

Last weekend’s thrilling 4-4 draw between Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town underlined why League One is shaping up to be arguably the most thrilling of the three promotion races in the Football League.

In what seems set to be a five-way scrap for automatic promotion, Charlton Athletic and Milton Keynes Dons look every bit as capable as the Yorkshire trio of lasting the pace in the coming months.

Regardless of what happens, at least one Yorkshire team will miss out on a place in the top two and Lee Clark, with memories of the last two years still fresh in his mind, will be desperate to ensure it is not Huddersfield.

Following on from Rotherham United revealing their new home will be called The New York Stadium earlier this week and that building work is on track, the onus is now on Andy Scott and his players to fulfil their side of the bargain by making a push for promotion.

Such a target is surely beyond Bradford. Forty seven games in 2011 – a year where three managers have taken charge of the club – have yielded just 47 points for the Bantams, meaning the doomsday scenario of relegation from the League is occupying minds at Valley Parade.

richard.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk