THE 33,458 fans who packed into Leeds Road didn’t know it – but Town’s top-flight clash with Manchester United in October 1971 was to have a poignant significance.
For George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton sealed a 3-0 away win, and it was to be the last time United’s ‘holy trinity’ scored in the same match.
Town have never attracted a home crowd of that size since, and United have never been back to Huddersfield.
Best and Co went top of the table thanks to their two-point haul, but it turned out that this supremely talented team, European Cup winners in 1968, were on the wane.
They finished the season in eighth place – Town were relegated – and almost unthinkably, dropped into Division II in 1974.
At least for half an hour on West Riding turf, it all went right for United and their superstars, who were made to battle by former Old Trafford defender Ian Greaves’ gutsy side.
Town gave as good as they got, and both Jimmy Lawson and Bobby Hoy brought flying saves from Alex Stepney, before being undone on 64 minutes.
Willie Morgan for once got the better of left-back Geoff Hutt and delivered a pinpoint pass for Best to head home.
United now warmed to their task, with the Examiner’s Alan Driscoll noting: “Best had raised the baton with a tonic goal, and the rest of the orchestra struck up.”
United went two up when Law latched onto Brian Kidd’s pass and calmly rounded keeper David Lawson to slot the ball home.
And the rout was completed when Law pounced on Dennis Clarke’s slip to set up Charlton for a straightforward finish.
For Law, of course, it was a return to familiar territory, for he had been signed by Town at 15, famously arriving as a frail schoolboy with a squint in 1955 and leaving in a British record £55,000 move to Manchester City in 1960, having played 91 times and scored 19 goals for Town, who erected their first set of floodlights with the proceeds.
Neither Law nor Best were to ply their trade at Leeds Road again, but Charlton came back in February 1975 when as player-manager, he guided Preston to a 1-0 win in a Third Division (now League I) game.
Town: D Lawson, Clarke, Hutt, McGill, Ellam, Cherry, Hoy, S Smith, Worthington, J Lawson, Chapman (Krzywicki).
United: Stepney, O’Neil, Dunne, Gowling, James, Sadler, Morgan, Kidd, Charlton, Law, Best. Sub not used: Burns.