Town started the new year of 1948 in thirteenth place in the first division on 20 points.
However they were level with two other teams and the three below them all had 19 points. So a very close contest looked in prospect.
They started well with a 3-2 win away at Portsmouth but a week later on 10th January suffered a humiliating defeat at then non-league Colchester United in the third round of the F.A. Cup. It was one of the first big giant-killing acts of the post-war period and really hit the headlines. The small ground and proximity of the crowd were given as excuses but the press reports suggested that Colchester dominated the game and fully deserved their 1-0 victory.
Town bounced back well the following week with a 4-2 win at Chelsea. All their best performances seemed to be away from home and understandably home support began to dwindle. I became disenchanted myself, but stuck with them although possibly going with my Dad to Fartown to watch the very successful Huddersfield Rugby League side of that period when Town were away. My father had a habit of ridiculing the 'spice ball laikers' of soccer and promoted the 'steamed pigs' of rugby league at all times.
SATURDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 1948 Attendance 20,571
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0 ASTON VILLA 1 (Ford)
Hesford; Hayes, Barker; Smith Hepplewhite, Boot;
Bateman, Glaazzard, Whittingham, Doherty, Metcalfe;
Jones; Moss, Cummings; Dorsett, Parkes, Lowe;
Edwards, Graham, Ford, Brown, Smith;
Referee:- G. Tedds, Bestwood, Notts.
Report from Yorkshire Sports newspaper.
With many Huddersfield people preferring to watch Rugby League at Fartown, indications were that the attendance for Huddersfield Town's match with Aston Villa was going to be one of the smallest for some time. Usually Villa attract a big crowd when they come to Huddersfield. When the game started the attendance was only about 13,000. Early Villa raids were easily repelled and good work by Doherty and Metcalfe enabled Town to get into an attacking position. Unfortunately for them Whittingham got into an opposite position when things looked promising.
Villa's half back were doing well and Town's attack found it difficult to make headway. After Villa had forced a corner, Glazzard transferred play with a good run. His pass to Bateman was faulty and Villa went back to the attack for Dorsett to force Hesford to make a good save.
A clever movement ended with Ford scoring in the seventeenth minute with a rising angular drive from about twenty yards. The success was deserved for so far Town were well below their best form. Glazzard raised Town's hopes with a great dribbled before passing to Bateman whose centre was easily cleared. Villa replied with a lightning attack and Hesford had to dive to stop a brillian drive from Dorsett; Villa were playing beautiful football. Graham dislocated his shoulder in a fall and had to leave the field.
A LONG SHOT
In one of Town's occasional raids Metcalfe tried a long shot which Jones saved with confidence. Even with ten men Villa were more than holding their own. Smith, Villa's left winger ran brilliantly through the Town defence only to finish by shooting tamely past from about ten yards. Bateman missed a great chance to equalise close on the interval.
Half time - Huddersfield Town 0 Aston Villa 1.
Graham was still absent when play was resumed. Despite this handicap Villa were aggressive. After Hepplewhite had stopped a dangerous Villa attack in which Brown and Smith were prominent, Edwards forced a corner. Town rushed to the other end and keeen exchanges in the Villa goalmouth ended with Bateman shooting a yard wide. Town's pressure persited for a period but Villa held on to take the victory.
Town began to slide down the table as they lost both the next two home games and had three successive away defeats. They lost 1-0 at home to Villa when the crowd dropped to around 20,000 and two weeks later lost 2-0 to Bolton with only 14,000 in attendance. They then beat Middlesborough 2-1 in a game when Albert Nightingale, who had been signed from Sheffield United, scored his first goal.
Nightingale achieved fame as possibly the first 'diver' in professional football. His habit of regularly falling down, whenever he was tackled was a regular talking point.
Many years later when the last match was played at Leeds Road, many ex-players were there and introduced individually to the crowd. When Nightingale was announced he ran onto the field and promptly fell down to great hilarity among the crowd.
SATURDAY 19TH MARCH, 1948 Attendance 23,588
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT LEEDS ROAD, HUDDERSFIELD
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 2 (Metcalfe, Nightingale) MIDDLESBOROUGH 1 (Fenton)
Mills; Hayes, Barker; Whittingham, Hepplewhite, Boot;
Bateman, Nightingale, Rodgers, Doherty (capt), Metcalfe;
Goodfellow; Hardwick, Hepple; Bell, Whitaker, Gordon;
Spuhler, McCormack, Fenton, Mannion, Walker;
Referee:- F. Walton, Goole.
Yorkshire Sport match report.
The attendance was about 18,000 at the start when Middlesborough tried to force the pace. Town defended stubbornly. A good movement in which Bateman, Whittingham and Metcalfe took part endangered the visitors' goal, Hardwick just managing to stop Metcalfe near the corner. Playing with fine dash Town kept it up and Whittingham tried a long shot which went wide of the far post.
Town were certainly trying hard to find an opening. Metcalfe raced along the wing, flashed the ball over to Rodgers, whose header was caught by Goodfellow. When Middlesborough raided Hepplewhite stopped Spuhler before the latter could steady himself for a shot. There were more raids by Middlesborough, and then Metcalfe made a grand run before crossing the ball into the goalmouth for Goodfellow to dash out and clear.
A beautiful passing movement in which Nightingale, Bateman and Rodgers participated carried play into the visitors' goalmouth. When the ball came to Doherty he tried a shot which sailed over. Middlesborough improved and Walker tried a long shot which Mills dealt with confidently. When Doherty got going it took two defenders to stop him near goal. Middlesborough's defence was doing good work.
Whittingham was playing well at half back. After Town had forced a corner, Rodgers got in a shot which was only inches too high. It was a good attempt. Before this he had narrowly failed with a header after Whittingham had taken a free kick. Town applied severe pressure and Middlesborough's goal was fortunate to avoid downfall. Half time 0-0.
Town attacked with great determination after the resumption. There were lively incidents in Middlesborough's goalmouth. Metcalfe forced a corner and it was with great difficulty that Middlesborough cleared. A raid by Mannion and Walker was then repelled. In the next Town attack Metcalfe scored with a clever shot after Doherty had headed the ball down to him. Town deserved to be ahead and only great defensive play had kept the score down.
Centre forward Fenton managed to equalise for the visitors but before the end Nightingale scored his first goal for Town to give them a deserved victory.
SATURDAY 27TH MARCH, 1948 Attendance 38,266
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Burke, Pearson)
Mills; Hayes, Barker; Whittingham, Heppelwhite, Boot;
Bateman, Nightingale, Glazzard, Doherty (capt), Metcalfe;
Brown; Carey (capt), Aston; Warner, McGlen, Cockburn;
Delaney, Morris, Burke, Pearson, Mitten;
Referee:- Mr A.C. Denham, Preston
Town, who won 2-1 at Blackburn yesterday (Good Friday) thanks to goals from
Bateman and Glazzard, had their chances but could not score against the cup favourites,
despite United giving a rare appearance to reserve goalkeeper 'Berry' Brown. Town were handicapped by injuries to Hepplewhite and Hayes, which left them struggling with ten men for long periods of the game. (No substitutes allowed in those days). After a hard game United were said to have left Leeds Road with five first teamers and two reserves all injured. One of the reserves, Ronnie Burke, who deputised for Rowley was to join Town for the following season.
Yorkshire Sports match report.
Town made a brisk start; first on the right through Bateman, and then on the left for Metcalfe to centre a ball which troubled United. Nightingale got in a powerful shot which Brown just managed to divert round the foot of the post. United raided but Hayes managed to stop Mitten. Keen midfield exchanges took place until Morris and Delaney became aggressive.
United were granted a free kick, taken by Carey, but Pearson was off-side and the Town's defence gained relief. Bateman broke away to the other end where Town forced a fruitless corner. A lapse by Hepplewhite gave Burke a clear run-in but he finished weakly, and Mills diverted the ball. It was a bad miss on United's part. Playing with commendable dash, Town contrived to be the more dangerous side. Once Brown was fortunate to tip over a Glazzard header.
A moment later there was another thrill when, after good work by Metcalfe, a United defender stopped a Doherty header on the goal line with Brown out of his goal. For several minutes play remained in front of Brown, and hard pressed indeed were the United defence. Eventually, Doherty tried a shot, but it was wide. Two United raids were easily repelled, and off went Glazard, to be unceremoniously brought down near the corner flag.The free kick, however proved of no advantage. Town got a fright when Burke had a good run and shot for the ball to be deflected.
Play was fast and full of interest during the first half. A beautiful movement in which Doherty, Metcalfe and Glazzard took part, almost proved successful. Aston just managed to clear with Brown out of position and Bateman rushing in to connect with a perfect pass from Metcalfe. Ten minutes from the interval United went ahead against the run of play. Pearson brought the ball cleverly under control, tricked a defender, and with an angular shot completely beat Mills. It was a clever goal.
Undismayed Town went back on the attack. They found United's rock-like defence difficult to penetrate, however. Whittingham hit the post with a rocket shot just before the interval. H.T. 0-1.
Soon after the restart Whittingham was in evidence again with forceful dribbles and neat passes to the men in front. Shots from Town were few, however, the best so far being by Metcalfe who forced Brown to rise to a drive which passed inches over the bar. Glazzard tried to force his was through but he lost in a tussle with McGlen. After Hepplewhite had been easily beaten by Burke, Mills showed skilful anticipation by running out and clearing from the centre forward as the latter shot. It was a good save.
Play was faster and keener than ever. A hard shot by Bateman found Brown in position before Burke scored a second goal in the sixty third minute to clinch the points for United.
MONDAY 29TH MARCH, 1948
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT LEEDS ROAD, HUDDERSFIELD
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1 (Bateman) BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 (Pryde)
Mills; Briggs, Barker; Whittingham, Hepplewhite, Boot;
Bateman, Nightingale, Glazzard, Doherty (capt), Metcalfe;
Hayhurst; Cook, Higgins; Whiteside, Pryde (capt), Bell;
Campbell, Crossan, McClelland, Murphy, Langton;
Referee;- Mr P. Snape, Swinton
A smallish bank holiday crowd turned out for this Easter Monday game, and got soaked (me included) by torrential rain in the first half, but dried out with hot sunshine in the second half.
Blackburn had a much changed side and the blackboard carried round the ground before the start scarcely had room for all the details.
One figure that did stand out was the balding figure of centre half and captain, Bob Pryde, who commanded the Rovers defence and was very strong in the air. A minute before the interval Bateman headed Town ahead, but they frittered many other chances.
Two minutes into the second half, Pryde came upfield for a corner and headed Rovers level. Town had been clearly superior in the first half, but struggled in the second. Reserve full back Briggs came in for the injured Hayes and although finding the England international winger Bobby Langton quite a handful, did quite well.
For some reason, perhaps due to the fact I was taking the eleven plus examination at school, I missed the home match with Arsenal, who were to be league champions, on the 10th April. Town did well to hold them to a 1-1 draw in front of the biggest crowd of the season - 38,596. The final home match I saw was a boring 0-0 draw with Stoke City in front of only 16,115 people.
So the season drew to an end with Town finishing eighteenth (out of 22). They were level with Sunderland on 26 points and only very narrowly ahead on goal average.
Blackburn on 32 and poor Grimsby only 22, were relegated with Grimsby never to be seen in the top division again.
At the end of the season there was an epic F.A. Cup Final which I only managed to see on the cinema newsreels of the time. Manchester United's all star team were worthy winners by 4 goals to 2.