ON the main routes into Huddersfield can be found a series of newly-erected road signs proudly proclaiming the town’s top-flight status.
‘Premier Town – Premier League’ is the message greeting visitors underneath a Terriers badge, complete with the three stars that represent the club’s trio of title successes during the Twenties.
The signs went up shortly before this season got under way but, with all due respect to the three previous visiting sides to the John Smith’s Stadium, Saturday was when it finally felt like big-time football was back in Kirklees.
Plus how just how tough life can be among the elite, as David Wagner’s men were given a rude awakening by Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur.
A three-goal salvo, two scored by the England striker, inside the opening quarter of a one-sided contest laid bare the huge gulf in class that every newly-promoted club has to bridge when taking on the very best.
That Huddersfield doggedly refused to fold in the wake of that early onslaught of goals from Mauricio Pochettino’s men was to their credit. It also ensured the home players left the field at the final whistle to a warm ovation from the 24,169 crowd.
If you give them a chance, Tottenham will probably use it. But if you give them a present then, for sure, they will use it.Huddersfield Town boss, David Wagner
But if anyone had been lulled into believing Wagner’s men had cracked it by taking nine points from the opening half-dozen games then that notion was well and truly dispelled in a contest beamed live to 154 countries around the globe.
“This was a different class of opponent,” admitted Huddersfield’s head coach. “And if you want to get something out of a game like this then you have to be 100 per cent in terms of concentration – and especially in the defence.
“If you give them a chance, Tottenham will probably use it. But if you give them a present then, for sure, they will use it. Against Spurs, we gave them too many presents.”
Spurs fans are clearly not too aware of Town’s proud pedigree, the 2,195-strong travelling contingent serenading their home counterparts with the ditty, ‘you’ve never won **** all’ ahead of kick-off. Huddersfield, let us not forget, boast one more league title than the two claimed by their London counterparts in 1951 and 1961.
Kane, though, is much more versed in all things Huddersfield and the potential for just how badly a trip to the town can turn out.
His only previous visit had come in the colours of Leyton Orient during a loan spell in League One that saw the young striker’s emotions on that February afternoon in 2011 lurch from the joy of scoring just a fourth goal in senior football to the despair of being sent off for two bookable offences.
The England striker was clearly intent on ensuring his second visit was a much happier occasion, as his double and a leading hand in a goal for Ben Davies that all but settled this game vividly illustrated.
His opener was a lesson in the art of clinical finishing.
A rash attempted clearance by Jonas Lossl that only found Kieran Trippier’s head helped create the opening but it was Kane’s speed of thought that truly exploited a Town defence that had unusually gone AWOL and allowed him to race clear.
Lossl attempted to atone for his earlier error by darting from his line but Wagner called it right after the game when he said: “A chance for Harry Kane means goal, that is the story.”
Sure enough, Kane finished with aplomb – just as he did on 23 minutes when, after creating space on the edge of the penalty area, the England striker curled a quite exquisite left-foot shot beyond Lossl to put the visitors 3-0 ahead.
That second goal was his fourth attempt of the afternoon, another long range effort having landed on the top of the crossbar moments after Lossl had made amends for a quite horrible attempt at clearing the ball by saving at Kane’s feet.
The in-form striker had also been involved in the move that led to Spurs opening a two-goal advantage, his pass having released Christian Eriksen.
Chris Lowe did get across to tackle the Dane only for the ball to roll across to Davies and he finished smartly past Lossl.
Town, having netted just once in five games, were never going to find a way back into proceedings. Credit, though, should go to Wagner’s men for the manner in which they refused to buckle.
The Terriers could have had a goal, too, with Laurent Depoitre striking the crossbar with a thunderous strike just before the interval.
This refusal to capitulate ensured the home fans stayed with their team, even after Moussa Sissoko had made it 4-0 in stoppage time.
Such a reaction bodes well for the challenges that lay ahead for Huddersfield, as there will, no doubt, be similarly chastening afternoons to this one when taking on the cream of English football over the coming weeks and months.