Richard Sutcliffe: Looking on the bright side as Town ‘shared’ in 11-goal thriller

Malcolm Macdonald.
Malcolm Macdonald.
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“IN all honesty,” said the manager of a Yorkshire club competing in the second tier, “we had as many goal attempts as they had.”

The question in this week’s column, dear reader, is who uttered those very words?

Was it Simon Grayson in the wake of Lee Novak leaping out from Jordan Rhodes’s shadow on Tuesday night to rescue a dramatic point for Huddersfield Town against Blackburn Rovers?

Or maybe Neil Warnock, following what the Leeds United manager felt was an unjust 1-0 defeat at Burnley on the same night?

The answer is neither of the above. Instead, it was the man in charge of the last Football League club to be on the end of a double-figure hiding.

Any closer? Okay, then, I will put you out of your misery. Malcolm Macdonald was the manager to utter those words, 25 years ago this week, in fact, after watching his Huddersfield side lose 10-1 at Manchester City.

Town fans may wince at the memory but the afternoon of November 7, 1987, remains indelibly written into English football folklore as the last time a side from the top four divisions conceded a double figure tally of goals in 90 minutes.

It was also the club’s worst defeat of all-time, beating the previous 8-0 hammering dished out by Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park on September 30, 1950.

Huddersfield actually started brightly at Maine Road with Duncan Shearer and David Cork missing early chances before Neil McNab opened the scoring for City on 12 minutes with their first attack. Even when a goal down, the Terriers continued to match their hosts but all that changed once Paul Stewart made it 2-0 midway through the first half.

After that, Town’s defence dissolved and by half-time it was 4-0. City had added another goal by the midway point of the second half as the prelude to a truly shambolic finale that saw the visitors give up any semblance of trying to defend as they chased a consolation goal at ruinous cost.

Tony Adcock was the first of what would ultimately be three City players to complete his hat-trick before Stewart and David White, later of Sheffield United and Leeds, followed suit.

After pointing to the number of chances in part mitigation, Macdonald, taking charge of only his sixth Huddersfield game, told the Yorkshire Post: “I feel shell-shocked. We gave them too much for the first goal. And from then on, we just became a shambles. We even started to try and play offside and that’s not our game.”

Town’s humiliation was complete as they joined Chesterfield, who a couple of months earlier had been thrashed 10-0 by Gillingham, in being on the end of a double-figure defeat in the 1987-88 season.

Since then, however, no Football League or Premier League team have suffered the same fate. There have been a few close calls, though, with Crystal Palace losing 9-0 at Liverpool two seasons later and Ipswich Town being ripped apart in an identical vein by Manchester United when Andy Cole was in his Old Trafford pomp.

Both are games that will live long in the memory of the Palace and Ipswich fans unlucky enough to be there but neither quite suffered as much as the Huddersfield’s supporters did at Maine Road.

Perhaps the last word on this sorry trip down memory lane should go to the man who scored Town’s consolation goal, an 89th-minute penalty.

Andy May was clearly not in a mood to mince words when he spoke to the Yorkshire Post’s Kevin Faure.

He was also not willing to swallow his manager’s defence about there not being much between the two teams.

So damning was May’s assessment, in fact, that Faure felt it necessary to tell the YP readers in Sports Monday a couple of days later that all expletives had been omitted in his report’s final quote.

May said: “We had a paper mache defence. You don’t give a team that kind of space, we gave them everything they wanted.

“We gave them 10 goals and it could have been a lot more.”