STAGSNET`S STATISTICAL PREVIEW
Last time the Stags played Huddersfield, it was in the promotion playoffs finals to the then new League One two years ago. And unluckily, the Stags lost to the Terriers on penalties after that a perfect Colin Larkin goal near the end of normal time was ruled out for offside. One wonders how the Stags might have fared in a higher division as Huddersfield since their promotion have finished well inside the top half of League One and last term lost out in the Playoffs semifinals for the Championship to the eventual winners, local rivals Barnsley.
But now, the teams will face each other in the League cup, not for the first time. And last season was a successful one for the Stags in that competition. First, the Stags kayoed Championship side Stoke 3-0 on penalties after the sides had been locked 1-1 after extra time. That victory was to be the last for Carlton Palmer as Stags manager. When the Stags played Southampton at home in the next round, Palmer had resigned a few days earlier after a 2-0 defeat at Rochdale. Peter Shirtliff was appointed caretaker manager at the Stags and the Southampton game was Shirtliff's first. Southampton, then under Harry Redknapp, who played in the West Ham side that were soundly beaten 3-0 at Field Mill in Round Five of the FA Cup on February 26, 1969, paid the prize for fielding a youthful side at the Mill. A Giles Coke strike midway through the second half dumped the Saints out of the League cup and the writer of these lines wrote for the Swedish Stags website that Mr. Redknapp once again left Field Mill as a loser, time as (then) Southampton manager. And in the third round, the Stags nearly accounted for another Championship side. Eventually relegated Millwall escaped a scare only in the final minute by winning 3-2 after the Stags had clawed back a 2-0 deficit.
And in the Playoffs final preview of 2003-04, the writer of these lines wrote:
If there ever was or will be a season of teams reaching the play-off finals the hard way, the 2003-04 one will definitely take the prize!!! And the reasons for that are quite obvious. Considering the division 3 semi-finals, all four participants were on one stage or another during these games in the finals! At the end of the days, the Stags and the Terriers just clinched it, thus securing that ONE team will bounce back to division 2 at the first attempt – hopefully the MIGHTY STAGS!
Both semi-final pairings (as well as the ones in Division One, Division Two, the Conf, also the Conf final) were not unexpectedly very close encounters. After the first leg, Huddersfield had a 2-1 away lead against Lincoln while the Stags beat Northampton 2-0 in Cobbler Country. But neither Lincoln nor Northampton were to surrender that easily, as shown in the return fixtures. Lincoln were 2-0 up at McAlpine at one time before Huddersfield secured a 2-2 draw to clinch the trip to Cardiff. And the Stags v Cobblers semi-finals will definitely in a few years' time go into the vintage Stags section as an epic game. Why?
The Cobblers clawed back the 2-0 deficit at Field Mill on Ascension Day, even led 3-0 before Curtis pulled one back in normal time. As away goals don't count in the play-off semifinals, the tie went into extra time and eventually to penalties. Thence, Pilkington and Larkin were the Stags' heroes. Pilkington by saving a Sabin penalty – Northampton's fourth – and Larkin by converting the Stags' last one, sending a packed Field Mill into raptures – and it was nice to hear that both sets of fans applauded each other after game – as the writer of these lines almost as usual had to follow the drama over the internet.
Both finalists have players who have experienced play-offs joy before. Andy Booth was in the Huddersfield side that last figured in a play-offs final. He also scored one goal in the 2-1 win against Bristol Rovers on May 28, 1995, thus securing a place in Division One for the Terriers. The Stags haven't figured in a playoffs final before, yet one player has done it. The one in question is Tom Curtis. He figured in the Chesterfield side that ousted the Stags in the 1994-95 semi-finals, then was in the Spireite team that beat Bury 2-0 in the division 3 finals, when a player who later was to play for the Stags, Tony Lormor, scored one of the goals.
Earlier this season, the teams shared six goals at Field Mill with Disley equalizing for the Stags in the 90th minute. And at the very start of this month, the teams played again at Huddersfield. The Terriers thought they might celebrate auto promo while the Stags needed a win to secure their play-offs position. In the preview of the league game on May 1, I wrote this:
Will the Stags ruin an eventual Terriers promotion party on May 1 in front of a division one-ish crowd?
And I was proved right. A crowd of 18633 which delayed the game for some 20 minutes first saw Huddersfield take the lead through McAliskey. But the Stags went on to spoil the Huddersfield party thanks to goals from Day, Mendes and Lawrence securing their first-ever league win in Terriers Country. These three points and results elsewehere secured the Stags' play-offs place. While the Terriers slipped out of auto promo position by drawing 1-1 at Cheltenham on the final day – a Torquay 2-1 win at Southend meant that the Gulls clinched 3rd position instead of the Terriers.
Played for both sides: George Anderson (1930's), Terry Austin, Kevin Bird, Adrian Boothroyd, Alfred Calverley (immediately after World War II), Brian Cox (kept the Stags goal in the first-ever league fixtures between the teams in 1988-89), George Darwin, Terry Eccles, Jim McCaffrey (both sold to Hudds after the 1976-77 cup games!), Lee Glover, Kevin Gray, Stuart Hicks, Simon Ireland, Kevin Lampkin, David Lyon, Iffy Onoura, Fred Roebuck (20's), John Saunders, Scott Sellars, Phil Stant, Terence Statham.
As listed above, there have been quite a number of players appearing for both sides. Among them is the Leeds KO man in 1994, Simon Ireland, who actually started his league career by the Terriers. Others are Scott Sellars, Kevin Gray and Phil Stant, to name but a few.
Managed both sides: Ian Greaves (Huddersfield 1968-1974, 259 games, Mansfield 1983-1989, 301 games).
Greaves steered Huddersfield to the old division 1 after 14 years' absence in 1969-70 as Champions, repeated that feat for Bolton in 1977-78 and guided the Stags to promotion from division 4 in 1985-86 and to the Freight Rover triumph at Wembley in 1986-87 penalizing a Bristol City side featuring current Stags manager Keith Curle.
Home games: P 6, W 1, D 2, L 3, GF 6, GA 9
Away games: P 6, W 1, D 2, L 3, GF 7, GA 9
Season Home Date Away Date
1988-89 1-0 1988-12-31 0-2 1989-04-08 Div 3 (old)
1989-90 1-2 1989-12-02 0-1 1990-02-07 Div 3 (old)
1990-91 0-0 1991-05-04 2-2 1990-10-27 Div 3 (old)
1992-93 1-2 1993-03-13 1-2 1992-11-07 Div 2
2002-03 0-2 2002-10-19 1-1 2003-03-18 Div 2
2003-04 3-3 2003-11-22 3-1 2004-05-01 Div 3
Playoffs final for Promotion to League One:
2003-04 0-0 2004-05-31 (lost 1-4 on penalties, at Cardiff)
1976-77 0-0 1976-11-20 1st round at Leeds Road
1976-77 2-1 1976-11-22 1st round replay at Field Mill
2001-02 4-0 2001-12-08 2nd rond at Field Mill
1983-84 1-2 1983-08-30 1-5 1983-09-13 1st round (Huddersfield win 7-2 on aggregate)
1998-99 1-1 1998-08-18 2-3 1998-08-11 1st round (Huddersfield win 4-3 on aggregate)
Svante Bernhard aka Sweden Stag (pictured, above right)
Details on players in the 1994-95 playoffs finals courtesy of Rothmans Football Yearbook 1995-96