Clark ready to put one over Clough as Terriers chase record

Huddersfield can eclipse Forest's unbeaten League run tomorrow

It was a long journey back from Southampton for Huddersfield Town last 28 December, their 4-1 defeat capping a bleak Christmas following a Boxing Day reverse to Hartlepool. Travelling by plane should have made it easier, but bad weather meant the flight home was diverted, giving manager Lee Clark plenty of time to ponder.

“Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year but it wasn’t for us,” he recalled yesterday. “We had played quite well in both games, but we looked at it, changed the system a little and learned some lessons.”

The next match, at Carlisle, Huddersfield drew after letting slip a two-goal lead. “I remember saying it was disappointing, but it could be the start of a good run,” said Clark, “I never thought we’d still be unbeaten come November.”

The Terriers are now unbeaten in 42 matches. Avoid defeat at home to Notts County tomorrow and they will eclipse the Football League record set by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 33 years ago. The caveat is that while Forest won the championship during their run Huddersfield failed to gain promotion. Having finished third last season they lost the play-off final to Peterborough – they remain ‘unbeaten’ as, by a statistical quirk, play-off matches are not included in official League statistics.

Clark said: “It’s been a phenomenal run, this is a very competitive league, but unfortunately Brighton and Southampton kept winning.”

After missing out on promotion Huddersfield sold Anthony Pilkington to Norwich and Lee Peltier to Leicester City, but Clark re-invested shrewdly and believes he now has a better squad. It is a a passing team with plenty of experience in veteran goalkeeper Ian Bennett, centre-half Peter Clarke, midfielders Damien Johnson (in his second year-long loan from Plymouth) and Tommy Miller, and target man Alan Lee. There is also youth in the likes of new Scottish international striker Jordan Rhodes, defender Jack Hunt and midfielder Scott Arfield.

 “We have young hungry, talented players, and experienced ones who still have fire in their bellies. The younger ones are attracting Premier League interest but, said Clark, he will not be selling in January. The backing of chairman Dean Hoyle, a locally-born multi-millionaire who made a fortune from a gift-card business, should mean he does not have to.

Clark, 39, has been at the Galpharm for three years next month finishing ninth, sixth and third. This impressive first stab at management, after coaching roles at Newcastle United and Norwich City, persuaded Leicester City to court the former Newcastle, Sunderland and Fulham midfielder after sacking Sven Goran Eriksson, but Clark made it clear he was not interested.

“I’m happy here,” he said. “maybe I could move and get more money, and be closer to the Premier League, but it might not be the same somewhere else. I like coming into work, I’ve fantastic backing from the directors, the fans are terrific, we’ve a great stadium and a new training ground. We all dream of the Premier League and clubs like Hull and Swansea have shown those dreams can come true. We have that potential. The hardest bit is getting out of this league.”

Huddersfield are currently second in League One, face well-resourced opposition being five points behind leaders Charlton and two clear of Sheffield Wednesday. Their next away matches are against those teams.

Forest players admitted that towards the end of their run not losing had come to be seen as important as winning. Given Huddersfield have drawn eight of their 17 league matches this season it might seem they are suffering a similar problem but, said Clark, “we go out to win matches, to score goals. Three points for a win is a terrific incentive.”

Nethertheless, given these forthcoming visits to The Valley and Hillsborough remaining unbeaten for another month would be a big step towards automatic promotion. It would also put Huddersfield in sight of the 49-match unbeaten Premier League  run of Arsenal’s Invincibles.

* The longest unbeaten run in rugby League is held by Town’s ground-share partners at Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield Giants. Either side of WWI the team then known just as Huddersfield went 43 matches unbeaten in all competitions, winning 41.

Formidable Forest: The original 'Invincibles'

Nottingham Forest’s 42-match unbeaten run, which stretched from November 1977 to December 1978, earned a newly-promoted team the 1977-78 Football League title en route. It was only eclipsed when Arsenal’s Invincibles went 49 Premier League matches unbeaten from May 2003 to October 2004.

Forest, managed by Brian Clough with a team built around Martin O'Neill, John McGovern, Viv Anderson, John Robertson, Tony Woodcock and Kenny Burns, finally lost at Anfield. Both Liverpool goals were scored by Terry McDermott, now Lee Clark's assistant at Huddersfield.

Clough said at the time: 'I congratulated our lads on a magnificent run,” but admitted, “this defeat means a light relief.' Indeed, several Forest players said the unbeaten run had become a burden. That 1978-79 season they drew nine of their opening 16 unbeaten matches.

Frank Clark, then left-back, subsequently manager and now chairman at Forest, admitted: "As time wore on, I think it started to worry us. It became more important not to lose and keep the run going than to actually win games. To some extent, that's shown by the fact we drew 21 matches during that sequence.”

Clough later said he thought the unbeaten run was a finer achievement than the two European Cup Forest won under him. The silver salver presented by the club, with the details of the 42 fixtures engraved on it, was one of his proudest mementoes.

Glenn Moore

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes