Huddersfield Town Worst XI (except there's twelve)
I was enormously entertained by debate amongst Newcastle United fans regarding the worst players ever to pull on a black and white shirt. What most amused me was that all of them could rattle a list of at least 20 players that nobody quibbled with. One fan was still going strong with his list approaching fifty.
To them this was the norm, and they reckoned that most clubs could pull together a similar list. I've tried to collate the 20 worst ever players to play for my beloved Huddersfield Town, and, despite being witness to some truly abject performances, I've struggled... I think this is possibly down to the culture amongst football fans. Are Toon fans less compassionate and forgiving than fans of Huddersfield? Maybe it's a Premiership thing? I have no idea. Reading my list back I also found myself thinking... he wasn't *THAT* bad. I can't muster the intensity of derision that even the most mild-mannered Toon fans reserve for Christian Bassedas.
Some players included here are much, much worse than others - but some have been included because they've been given multiple chances and goodwill from the fans and repeatedly failed. Some because they were signed on HUGE wages and plainly had little interest in anything else. That said, there's no magic formula beyond gut feeling. Anyway, for the record, here's my list:
Signed by Steve Bruce from Auxerre's youth team. Started a single league game at right-back and was substituted before half-time before he could cause some serious damage. He looked like a rabbit frozen in the headlamps of an onrushing car. I think he managed a couple of sliced clearances and a panicked header before being turned inside out by some aging winger and being hauled off before half-time. We didn't even have a useful substitute on the bench so had to do some panicky re-shuffling. Barry Horne was re-deployed in place of Hodouto at right-back, despite his obvious incredulity. Trivia fans might want to note that this game also featured future Town manager, Lee Clark.
Paul Moulden wrote his name into the Guinness Book of Records as a youth by scoring 340 goals in a single season for Bolton Lads Club under-15s. This suggested a glittering career ahead and Moulden was tipped as an England international after starring in the FA Youth Cup Final. Unfortunately, this never came to pass. Signed from Birmingham (to my memory on loan, but Soccerbase reckons it was a permanent signing) he was slow, easily brushed off the ball, had no touch to speak of and barely influenced the game. Only featured in 2 matches and scored one goal - a tap-in amidst a goalmouth scramble following a corner (although I reckon Darren Bullock's header had already crossed the line). I didn't hate him, he just wasn't very good.
While I'm pretty sure I saw Darren Edmondson do a passable impression of a footballer he is also responsible for the worst display by a professional footballer I've ever seen. It was at Stockport County in what turned out to be one of Brian Horton's last games in charge. Not only were we beaten by Stockport, but also thoroughly outclassed, out passed and out thought. Shoulders were drooping all over the pitch - Paul Dalton could barely muster the energy to trot off the pitch when he was substituted. Edmondson sealed the prize of worst-player-of-the-day with some truly dreadful attempts at passes and clearances. He looked like a man wearing boots the shape of toblerones.
A postman who was plucked from Emley's first team and thrust into Brian Horton's choking, hobbling, dying embers of a team. He ran about a bit in the manner of a man who can't believe he's lucky enough to be a professional footballer. Horton was sacked a few matches later. A few matches later Hurst was on loan at Halifax (for Huddersfield Town players this is the equivalent of a dog "going to live in the country"). A mysterious, pointless signing.
Ostensibly a defender, Dyer was signed by Brian Horton and employed as a striker. He lumbered around to no great effect. Scored one goal in 12 appearances before moving on to Notts County for a few seasons. Currently manages West Ham's reserve team.
Luckless, hapless Chris Hay. One of those strikers who have never looked impressive but always got the goals, much like Francis Jeffers, Andy Payton or Gary Lineker. Always in the right place at at the right time - they say that's a 'skill', I'm not so sure. Hay had managed 32 goals in 98 appearances for Swindon, and signed off with a double away at Norwich, before moving to Town. Unfortunately for Hay (and Town fans) his goal-scoring instincts then deserted him and he only managed 22 goal-less outings before breaking his duck away at QPR - and that was at the other end of the ground from the Town fans - he gave us a cheery wave though, and never has a man looked more relieved. He ended the season with 6 goals and left for pastures new: St. Johnstone in the nether regions of the Scottish Premier League where he proceeded to bag 9 goals in his first 16 outings. Shame.
Paul Macari was a professional footballer who started his career at Stoke City in August 1993 when former Manchester United star Lou Macari was manager. He transferred to Sheffield United but left without making a first-team appearance, being snapped up by Huddersfield Town manager, Lou Macari. You might spot a pattern in all this. He was utterly, utterly pointless. He managed 15 professional appearances for the Terrier - all as a late substitute. If we had to describe Paul's unique talent, the reason he was ever introduced the fray, it would probably mention that valuable skill "winding down the clock".
Baldry, in come senses, is a Town legend. A local lad, he came through the ranks and broke into the team under Neil Warnock. His debut was in the final ever game at the old Leeds Road ground and he opened the scoring with a tidy finish in front of the cowshed. He progressed during that season and the one that followed in a haphazard fashion with sporadic appearances, some loaded with promise, some instantly forgettable, and some that looked like an audition to join the Keystone Cops. Around this time the esteemed football monthly 'FourFourTwo' described Baldry as "like Keith Gillespie with a better cross", proof, if we needed it, that these magazines are slung together by fantasists who don't believe in research. Or maybe they'd been scouting at reserve matches where Baldry excelled for years. But Baldry never really managed to string together an impressive run of form in the first team except when his contract was nearing renewal. When said contract was procured, his form dipped back to the infuriating eraticism that had become his trademark.
The enduring image I have of Simon Balrdy is his involvement in corner kick. David Phillips was taking the kick and clearly wanted to roll it to Baldry who was to stop the ball with his sole, allowing Phillips to take the kick from a slightly improved angle. "There," said Phillips pointing at where he wanted Baldry to stand. "What?" said Simon. "There!" "What?" "THERE!" "Eh?" At which point Phillips grabbed Baldry by his arms and physically lifted him to the place he was required to stand. It was a strange image that looked for all the world like a teacher lifting a urinating child and running for the loo. Maybe Baldry had been told that there a scout was in the stands. A scout not from Manchester or Liverpool, but Keystone.
Direct, powerful, pacy and with an eye for goal. That's how we described George Donis' youth. Unfortunately, by the time he pitched up at Blackburn Rovers he wasn't able to reproduce these attributes with the necessary frequency. By the time he'd signed for Huddersfield Town he could barely re-produce them at all. Not a terrible player, and he showed real class on the odd occasion, but for the amount of money he was sucking out of the club in wages, Town fans wanted (and arguable deserved) much, much, much more.
Former Ipswich, Bradford and Charlton defensive lynchpin, Youds joined Lou Macari's Huddersfield at the ripe old age of 32 - not so ripe for some, but Eddy was like a pungent, fermenting banana. He was clearly past it and spent a season going red in the face, struggling to get back to cover long balls over his head and loudly swearing at Phil Senior, the callow youth who was charged with keeping goal after Martyn Margetson left.
Scored an absolute screamer on his debut, coming off the bench in an evening game against West Brom, firing with his left-foot, across the keeper and into the top corner. Andy Booth ran over to celebrate with him and could clearly be seen saying 'how did you do that?' to Turner. He'd arrived on loan from Tottenham with a pedigree - he was the youngest ever scorer in the top flight for a while - but his loan spell failed to ignite after the explosive start. His career spiralled down the leagues. He's included in this list, not because he was awful, but because he wasn't as good as he clearly could have been.
A promising young striker, Whitington had an impressive goal-scoring record at Crawley Town (75 goals in 173 appearances) and then Scarborough (10 goals from 26 matches in the fourth division). He impressed in a Yorkshire Electricity Cup tie and was signed by Town manager Neil Warnock for £20,000. Given that he was joining a squad that featured Andy Booth, Ronnie Jepson and Gary Crosby, Whitington had to fight for a first team place. He started one match against Leyton Orient and very nearly scored when following up a Booth header that hit the post. He was later sacked for failing a drugs test and incurring a 10-month band from the FA. His career never recovered.
And that's it. I could probably muster entries for: Jon Newby (prolific striker - 15 appearances, no goals), Des Hamilton, Andy Payton (not a 'bad' player but one I hated anyway), Delroy Facey and Tyrone Thompson. But I've tired of being bitter and critical. If your own favourite hate figure hasn't made an appearance, I do apologise. Please remember, that the jury is still out on Alan Lee - so maybe there'll be a follow-up post...
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