THE MOST wonderful time of the year? Probably not in Hull or Rotherham but, for the rest of Yorkshire’s football fraternity in the top four divisions, Christmas is shaping up to be a cracker.
No fewer than six of the county’s Football League clubs are occupying a play-off place or better heading into the festive season, meaning supporters can tuck into their turkey with all the trimmings this Sunday dreaming of possible promotion in the new year.
Of those half dozen sides flying the flag for the White Rose, Doncaster Rovers, look best placed to go on and finish the job in 2017.
Seven points clear of the chasing pack, Darren Ferguson’s men are sitting third in League Two and there can be little doubt any hangover from last season’s relegation has been banished.
Sheffield United are the other club from the county who will celebrate Christmas in an automatic promotion slot and, like Rovers, Chris Wilder’s men can be very happy with their efforts in the first half of the campaign.
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The Blades were bottom after four games, but Wilder has since inspired his players to the sort of run that suggests it will take a very special team to pip them to the title. At the moment, Scunthorpe lead the way, but eminently winnable back-to-back games at Bramall Lane means the New Year may yet arrive with United having claimed top spot.
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Bradford City, Yorkshire’s other representative in the third tier, also look well placed for a second tilt at the play-offs in as many seasons despite last summer seeing plenty of upheaval at Valley Parade.
As it stands right now, Rotherham United look like swapping places with at least one of City or the Blades next summer. The Millers have endured a horrendous few months, the club having had as many managers as victories this season, and whoever succeeds Kenny Jackett permanently should probably start planning for life in League One.
Rotherham’s travails, however, are the exception for Yorkshire football in the Championship.
Barnsley have adapted impressively to life back in the second tier and sit much, much closer to the top six than the relegation zone.
As impressive as that has been, though, there can be little argument as to who has been the second tier’s true surprise package.
Huddersfield Town were sixth favourites for the drop with the bookmakers before a ball was kicked, but such pessimism has been made to look ridiculous by David Wagner’s men.
Twelve victories from 22 games mean the Terriers head a trio of Yorkshire sides currently sitting in the play-offs. Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday are the others hoping to bolster the county’s tally of top-flight representatives in 2017.
It is a small and exclusive club that, judging by the opening 17 games in the Premier League, could well lose one of its two current members come May with Hull City struggling both on and off the field. Middlesbrough are making a better fist of things, though there remains work to be done at the Riverside.
Here, The Yorkshire Post’s fan jury give their half-term reports on how each of the county’s 10 Premier and Football League clubs are faring.
Interviews by Richard Sutcliffe and Leon Wobschall.