'˜Beast from the East' fails to dampen spirits of Huddersfield Town supporters

ONCE again, Huddersfield Town's travelling fans were the last to leave Wembley.

Back to Wembley: Huddersfield Town's Jonathan Hoggin action against Spurs.

As with the club’s two previous appearances under the Arch, the visitors from Yorkshire were also in full voice when leaving the national stadium after saluting their heroes on the pitch.

That, though, is where the similarities ended between this latest trip to the capital and those two promotion successes of 2012 and 2018.

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Appreciation and an air of defiance emanated from the corner of Wembley that was the last to empty on Saturday tea-time, rather than the jubilation of those never-to-be-forgotten play-off final triumphs over Sheffield United and Reading.

Town’s players, no doubt mindful of the difficult conditions the near 3,000-strong contingent had negotiated on the journey south, returned the applause before heading back across the Wembley turf and down the tunnel.

Jonathan Hogg, one of just three in the XI to tackle Spurs who had been in the starting line-up nine months earlier at Wembley, was one of the last to leave along with Tom Ince and Terence Kongolo.

Before disappearing from view, Hogg could not resist one last look around at the swathes of empty seats that had been vacated by home fans desperate to beat the rush for the tube.

It must have brought home just how much has changed for Huddersfield since last May – and not just in terms of personnel, Rajiv Van la Parra and Christopher Schindler joining Hogg in being the survivors from the team that had kicked off against the Royals last May.

Much hard work may lay ahead in the quest for survival but Town, written off almost exclusively by the pundits from the moment Schindler netted ‘that’ penalty, are holding their own in the Premier League.

Eight wins is testament to that, as is the three-point cushion David Wagner’s men enjoy over the bottom three.

More importantly, though, there seems a growing belief among the players and fans that the Terriers’ stay among the elite can be extended beyond May.

Sure, Spurs were far too good for Yorkshire’s sole representative in the top flight on Saturday.

But take the top six out of the equation and any team is seen as fair game by Huddersfield. It is why there is such a sense of anticipation about the upcoming run of games that, full-back Florent Hadergjonaj admits, will decide Town’s fate.

“We knew it would be a hard game at Wembley,” said the Swiss international, given a tough afternoon by Heung-Min Son. “But now, it is time for our big games at home.

“Swansea (next Saturday) is a big one and we have to show our quality. We are very strong at home and we want to keep the points. We are looking forward to these games.”

Such a view is shared by a support that has rightly been praised for improving the sometimes staid atmospheres that can be found in the top flight.

Visiting Wembley is, like Old Trafford and Anfield, fun. It is why even the ‘Beast from the East’ weather front that had left the country shivering for much of last week could not put off even those fans whose arrival on Friday afternoon – and judging by the number of blue and white scarves at King’s Cross Station, there were plenty who made a weekend of it – came amid a snowstorm that gave the capital the feel of an emergency zone.

A host of train companies were pleading with workers to start their journey home no later than 3pm, or risk being stranded. Commuters from London having to spend Thursday night on a marooned train in the New Forest meant many heeded those warnings.

As the snow continued to fall well into the evening, the streets took on an eerie feel with those brave enough to venture out doing so on foot as cars were left at home.

Come match-day, however, and the picture had changed dramatically. Temperatures were up, the snow had gone and Tottenham Hotspur were in no mood to mess about. Nevertheless, Town showed enough to suggest that survival – and a trip to the newly-built White Hart Lane next season – is well and truly on.