Red letter day for Blues

Huddersfield Town1 Bullock 88 Birmingham City2 Claridge 73, Tait 85 Attendance: 18,775
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The Independent Online
ONE POINT was all Birmingham needed to become Second Division champions. So their coronation, by taking three points on an afternoon in which Huddersfield's striking new stadium was bathed in warm sunshine, was excuse enough for the triumphalism of their vociferous support throughout the 90 minutes, which continued well after the final whistle.

The truth was that following the Brummie terrace's reaction to events a couple of hundred miles away at Bristol where Brentford, the only pretenders to their crown, were engaged was often more entertaining than the happenings on the pitch.

Conspiracy theorists had good grounds for suspicion that both sides would set off for a comfortable division of the spoils. Steve Claridge drifted a shot on to the Huddersfield crossbar in the 26th minute, Ian Dunn retaliated by blasting narrowly over Ian Bennett's goal - and that was the end of the first half's excitement.

The second produced little to get the adrenalin pulsing until Claridge, whose endeavours had lived up to his gritty socks-around-ankles and shirt- tail-flapping demeanour scored in the 72nd minute. Gary Cooper loped in from the left and chipped to Claridge's feet eight yards out from goal. A clever piece of ball-juggling allowed the striker to scoop the first goal past a surprised Steve Francis.

A similar bout of shimmying by Claridge 15 minutes later created the opening for substitute Paul Tait to tuck away the second. Darren Bullock pulled one back for Huddersfield two minutes later, getting his head to Andy Booth's flick to stir some thoughts of a comeback. It almost came off in the dying seconds when Lee Duxbury floated a cross against the City bar.

But it was to be Birmingham's day although Town, assured of a play-off place, may be able to seek revenge in the first division next season.

The jubilant Brummie fans were still singing their heads off in the South Stand a full 45 minutes after the final whistle. Wembley winners a couple of weeks ago, they are now flushed with resurrection fever as the club returns to the first division as champions. At least one half of the Second City has something to sing about and their rivals Aston Villa must beware - this revivalist fervour could mean City will be sinking their teeth into them within a season. Or, depending on the next week's events, even sooner.

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