Derbies are key if Town are to taste more late dramas

Jonathan Hogg, Huddersfield Town
Jonathan Hogg, Huddersfield Town
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HUDDERSFIELD TOWN do not do flat endings to the season. Not of late, anyway.

For the last four seasons, the Terriers have either been competing in the play-offs or fighting relegation on the final day.

Jonathan Hogg may not have a run of dramatic finales to compare. But, in terms of sheer nail-biting, seat-of-pants electrifying endings to a season, last May will take some beating.

The 25-year-old was part of the Watford side that experienced possibly the most topsy-turvy finale that the Football League has ever witnessed with the Hornets blowing automatic promotion on the final day and then qualifying for the play-off final courtesy of the most extraordinary 15 seconds imaginable.

However, after that incredible high of Leicester missing a penalty at one end and Troy Deeney – the assist coming from Hogg – scoring at the other to send Gianfranco Zola’s Watford to Wembley, came the ultimate low of being denied promotion by a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the national stadium.

Hogg could play until he is 50 and not experience such a huge swing of emotions. Certainly, this season looks like being the total opposite with Huddersfield, whom he joined last summer, on course for the calmest ending to a season imaginable.

With a little under a third of the campaign to play, Mark Robins’s Town side sit 10 points adrift of the play-offs and 16 clear of Charlton Athletic in the third and final relegation spot.

A mid-table finish, therefore, seems on the cards. While this will be in stark contrast to the dramas he experienced at the end of last season, Hogg will be more than happy with that.

“This season has been pretty decent,” said the midfielder in an interview with the Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s derby with Sheffield Wednesday. “I have really enjoyed it.

“The only downside has been the injuries, I have had a couple more than I would have liked. But I have still played quite a good number of games.

“When I came to Huddersfield, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. At Watford, we had played Huddersfield twice last season but since then they had changed manager.

“So, that meant there was a chance of the team playing with a different style. What I definitely knew, though, was that the team would be hard-working. There were good, honest professionals here, the sort who put everything into games.

“That has been the case this season and our results have been decent. The table shows the improvement there has been.

“Last season, Huddersfield were still fighting relegation on the final day. Hopefully, other clubs will be fighting that out this season.

“As for the other end, you never know. The Championship is a crazy league. Two or three wins on the bounce and you shoot up the table.

“We have a good run of games coming up now and, if we can put some results together, then that could carry us a long way. If, though, we do finish mid-table then that is what it is. And it will still represent progress and we would have to be pleased with that.

“The squad is evolving as we go along. The manager is always wanting to bring in better players than we have got.

“It is not an easy job but he is doing well. We can keep pushing on and who knows where that could take us?”

Yorkshire derbies are coming thick and fast for Town right now. After hosting the Owls today, Robins’s men are again at home next week against Barnsley before travelling to Doncaster Rovers on March 8.

With a home game against Charlton three days later, Town’s league position could – as Hogg suggests – look very different by the middle of March.

The midfielder added: “I can’t imagine anything beating last season for drama but you just never know. That is the beauty of football.

“We have to give it 100 per cent every game. If we do that and play like we can then we have a chance.

“I wanted to come back north in the summer for my family. But Huddersfield was a draw because it is a big club that, I believe, is only going to get bigger. We have a good owner who is obviously a big fan of the club. That always helps. He is very passionate about what he does and that can only mean good things are going to happen here.

“You only have to look round here at the training ground. The facilities are excellent. The playing staff is also getting better and better, too. The club is only going one way and that is up.”

As for last season’s drama at Vicarage Road, Hogg admits a repeat of the scenes that saw Leicester beaten in the play-off semi-finals would be very welcome.

“I still can’t believe what happened last year,” he said. “It was crazy, totally mad. The Leicester game, in particular.

“Funnily enough, I watched it back for the first time a couple of weeks ago. My missus had recorded it on Sky.

“It was weird watching it. Even when he runs up for the penalty, I was thinking, ‘This must go in’. We were dead, totally out of it. He had to score.

“I was on the edge of the area and (Manuel) Almunia did a double save (to deny Anthony Knockaert). Before I knew it, I was up the other end and heading the ball back for Troy to score.

“Fitness has always been one of my strengths and that was probably why I got forward so fast. I did a bit of cross-country running as a kid but it more comes from training. I just love smashing into people.

“I would say that winner was the best feeling I have ever had in football. I cannot imagine seeing anything like that again. The celebrations as the goal went in were incredible. The manager ran on the pitch, I couldn’t tell you what I did. The adrenalin just takes over in a situation like that.

“I had been on the edge of our box just moments earlier so when Troy smashed the ball into the net, well I can’t put into words what it was like.

“You know you have got to Wembley and your mind just goes. It was the very last kick of the game. Incredible. Even now, nine or 10 months on, it still doesn’t feel real.”