Leeds and Town have taken very different paths

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IN footballing terms, the gap between Huddersfield Town and Leeds United for 51 years has been a yawning one.

For most of those five decades, the pair have dined at different tables ever since Town finished above Leeds in the 1961-62 season – with the Elland Road club ending in 19th spot in the old Second Division in Don Revie’s first full year in charge and Eddie Boot’s Terriers in seventh.

The following campaign, Leeds were fifth, one place above Town and it was the sign of things to come with Revie’s side promoted as Division Two champions in 1963-64 – with their Leeds Road rivals in mid-table.

Since that season, the West Yorkshire neighbours have only been in the same division on 11 occasions, including two high-profile seasons in the early seventies in 1970-71 and 1971-72 when Ian Greaves’s Town locked horns with Revie’s all-conquering Super Leeds line-up.

After Town’s relegation in the spring of 1972, the pair moved in opposite directions. In 1973-74, as Leeds stormed to the Division One title, the Terriers finished 10th in the old Third Division and while United went desperately close to being crowned kings of Europe on a fateful Paris night in May 1975, Town fans were licking their wounds after seeing their side dumped into the Football League basement – their third relegation in four seasons.

It was all a far cry from Town’s golden age of the Herbert Chapman era in the first half of the 1920s when Town won the FA Cup and became the first English club to win three successive top-flight titles.

It was not until the Eighties that Town and Leeds were in the same division again with Mick Buxton’s Terriers finishing within two places of their big city rivals in 1983-84 and 1985-86, before the pair again went their separate ways as United took off under Howard Wilkinson.

Town got their act together and enjoyed a spell in the second tier in the Nineties but were relegated in 2000-01, just as Leeds reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and finished fourth in the Premier League.

Both clubs then struggled through tough financial times before battling their way into the Championship once again where, on Saturday, they will meet as equals.