My long term memory for football facts & figures is poor. There, I said it.
Anything pre-2011 is scooped from a brain-puddle of misremembered stats and a collage of whispered colours and pretty sounds. Away days to faraway towns blur into one another.
I’ve long been jealous of friends who can recall events from our school-days based upon their alignment to a Luton fixture on a date in 1993; citing the correct score, starting line-up and flavour of pop-tart they had for breakfast.
For some reason I can just about remember the words to the Green King IPA advert from the ITV recording of the Littlewoods Cup final, but often need reminding of what the actual score was that day.
I didn’t drink alcohol at games as a young teenager, so I can’t blame it on that. And unlike the Luton players on twitter this season there are no allusions to a ‘herbal life’™ (ZZzzzzz) to fall back on.
So any football memories that survive the quagmire of Police Academy trivia and all the words to ‘Lodi Dodi’ by Snoop Dogg clogging my subconscious, tend to be special. And very special this memory remains.
Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome to the stage Palace away in the Championship: the opening game of the 2005/06 season.
That day in south London marked our return to the second tier of English football as newly crowned champions of League One. Having sunk to the depths of Division 3 - itself newly promoted from being called Division 4 and soon to become League 2.
In those days the bottom division was like park football to us connoisseurs, but from our current position it seems more like a distantly decadent episode of Footballers Wives, with muddier tits. Getting back to The Championship felt like the club was coming up for air.
As with most of our finest moments it wasn’t the performance on the pitch that still clings to my balls like a Velcro jock strap. But if that’s what you’re into, here’s the game, and good luck to you. But I will always remember the way I felt that day.
I travelled to the game on the train from my brother’s flat in Brixton. It being the first game of the season I’d splashed out on some new garms and sported a questionably authentic black Fred Perry polo - the creases still visible from its boat trip across the internet.
That day remains the only time I’ve ever walked into a ground and wanted to cheer like a drunk on a log-flume immediately. Just being there felt like a victory and when I looked around at the assembled ranks of Lutonians - up on their toes, smugging around like Paul Daniels on his wedding day – I knew they felt it too.
Failing to gather our composure on the Selhurst Park terraces, every man, woman and child belted from their bloated away-day bowels “LUTON ARE BACK, LUTON ARE BACK, ‘ALLO ‘ALLO”. It was glorious.
That feeling remains the finest collection of football-shaped butterflies I own. The belief that one day, hopefully while I can still remember my own name, we will enjoy another ‘Luton are back’ moment in the Football League is all that keeps me going after a result like Luton 0 AFC Telford 1.