From Rome to Huddersfield, with Love
Megan Iacobini De Fazio
This article was originally published in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner
Watching Huddersfield Town play has been a bit of a mixed bag for me.
I've cheered them on in rowdy sports bars in Kenya and in sticky Irish Pubs in Rome; one time, I caught the end of a game in a little shack in a Kakuma refugee camp, and Somali and Sudanese refugees shook my hand and told me they were happy we’d been promoted.
And of course I’ll never forget being in Accra, Ghana, my woolly town scarf wrapped around my neck despite the oppressive heat, watching big man Laurent Depoitre plough through Chelsea’s keeper, valiantly ensuring our survival.
But those are just the memorable ones. Watching a game usually involves being alone, frantically looking for a decent stream, resetting the router several times, swearing at the Wi-Fi and anxiously waiting for Twitter updates when all else fails.
Despite the distance though I’ve always felt close to Town fans, as if I were almost there at the John Smith Stadium with everybody else. Even through my broken speakers I can always hear the loud chants and non-stop drumming, and feel the sense of togetherness that defines the Terrier spirit.
And last weekend, for the first time ever, I finally got to experience it for myself.
A close friend, who is a keen evangelist for Town and has successfully converted several of us (yes, I’m one of those awkward people who got into football in their mid-twenties, and yes I know it’s cringey when I refer to ‘us’ winning a game, but please indulge me if you can bear it) got us tickets, so I flew from Rome to London and made my way to Huddersfield on Saturday morning.
Because my friend was busy being a stand-up citizen, promoting multicultural Britain at a Windrush event, I brought a Tottenham-supporting friend along with me for the ride.
Being at the John Smith's Stadium that day hammered home why I am Huddersfield Town. We lost, yes, but the players gave it everything they had, and the fans never stopped showing their appreciation.
The noise around the stadium was incredible, and not the kind you usually associate with a team’s sixth winless game. I can’t imagine that kind of support coming from the fans of a top six team: by nature, a fan raised on success is pathologically unable to deal with a loss.
Yet there we were during the last 10 minutes, two goals down, the notes of “Blue and White Army” echoing loudly round the stadium.
Even though it’s just been three years for me, I can tell that supporting Town will always be a bit of a tough one. But then again, why would I give up an afternoon to watch Chelsea trounce their opponent for the 10th time in a row?
If it’s certainty I’m looking for I’d re-watch Sex & the City for the umpteenth time, not spend 90 minutes staring at a ball being kicked about.
As we sat over a curry after the game I listened to my friend and his peers reminisce fondly about the time Huddersfield lost 6-1 to Nottingham Forest, and my love for this team grew even more.
It seems like humour in the face of adversity is the hallmark of a Town fan, and it makes our victories all the more special.