HUDDERSFIELD TOWN haven’t finished above near-neighbours Leeds United for over half-a-century since 1961-62, but when it comes to one key barometer, they most definitely have the present-day edge.
This is the considered verdict of Trevor Cherry, a man who is the most celebrated member of an exclusive group of players who are revered on both sides of the A62 derby divide, ahead of the West Yorkshire duo resuming hostilities on Saturday.
Now 68, Cherry still follows the affairs of the clubs closely and while a second successive double for Leeds over Town – something they have never previously achieved in their history – is the considerable on-pitch incentive for the hosts at Elland Road this weekend, he is minded to look at the bigger picture.
It is the view of many, not just Cherry, that Massimo Cellino’s reign at Leeds has been thoroughly tempestuous and dysfunctional in comparison to the structured goings-on down the road at Huddersfield under a widely-respected footballing figure in Dean Hoyle.
Hoyle’s duty of care for Town and place in fans’ affections have never been in doubt, in marked contrast to the situation at Leeds under an owner in whom a fair number of supporters have lost confidence, regardless of the fact that his financial input into the club has been considerable.
Cherry said: “There’s no real (league) difference now and Town have actually got that stability, despite the difference in the size of the clubs.
“Dean has done well keeping Town afloat and putting his money in and I think they are punching above their weight really. Leeds are just in the wrong division with the wrong owner, for me.
“I know the owner has put money in, but there’s all the other stuff. There’s all these superstitions – and I am not superstitious.
“I saw the (recent) Brighton game, which was very poor. But you just don’t know what is going on off the field, do you?
“Looking at Dean, he has a real feeling for the club and is steady.
“He’s a local man who leaves other people to do the job, which is what you need. He’s the best chairman I have ever known at Huddersfield by a long way.
“Leeds just need some local owners for me, even without the big money. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather see Leeds go down a division, but have a decent carry-on.”
All things considered, Cherry believes Steve Evans has made a fair fist of life as head coach, with the hosts heading into Saturday seeking a fourth successive league win for the first time since November, 2009.
But it is the medium- and longer-term horizons that Cherry is rather more concerned with and something that an upturn in form on the pitch can only partially placate for him.
Former England defender Cherry, who moved to Leeds at the age of 24 for £100,000 in the summer of 1972 – turning down overtures from Tottenham and Birmingham City to join following Huddersfield’s relegation to the second tier – added: “I actually think Steve Evans has done a good job with what he’s got and you can’t ask for much more really.
“He has got a bit of pride back in, fair dos. He seems to get what I call his pound of flesh out of his players.
“But you just don’t know what is going to happen and I feared that they would go down at one stage (this season).
“You never know what is around the corner and I just despair.”