29 August 2012

"Luton are back": Crystal Palace away, 2005ish

My favourite moment at a football match was the day Luton arrived back in the Championship. I think we won 2-1...

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.


  1. A couple of weeks later i had the joy of going to Leicester on a coach out of the Brickies and seeing Ahmet Berkovic's stunning overhead goal, pure magic. We were back !

  2. One of the Palace coaching staff wrote some tosh in the programme that day about this being a "big day out for the underdogs Luton Town", and Palace mustn't underestimate little Luton, etc, and other patronising nonsense. Mike Newell later admitted he and his players had seen this editorial and it helped gee them up. The bloke who wrote it was Australian I think, and obviously didn't appreciate English football history, otherwise he'd have known that Luton have spent more seasons in the top flight than Palace in the modern era. Palace boss Iain Dowie obviously knew all about Luton and was embarrassed by his colleague I do believe.... What with this, plus Andy Johnson diving around for penalties, the 2-1 win was a brilliant outcome for LTFC.

  3. get ur riot gear luton town are here fuck the fa were on our way back , luton are going up as champions were going to beat Cambridge 3-0, come on luton , coyh , luton till I die

  4. I cant wait for luton town away days in the football league then hopefully we win league 2 next season then go on to league one , then the championship , then the premiership , luton fans should buy there tickets for forest green rovers home game on easter Monday, Monday 21st april at 3pm , Kenilworth road will be packed 10,ooo plus luton fans and then a pitch invasion at full time , fuck the fa were on our way back

  5. we are luton town we are luton town coyh were going up as fucking champions were on our way back fuck the fa were on our way back

  6. buy your tickets asap for the last home game of the season to forest green easter Monday , Monday 21st april kick off 3pm , Kenilworth road will be a sell out , over 10,000 luton fans will be watching luton lift the league ,and there will be one big pitch invasion, were going up as champions , fuck the fa were on our way back , john still barmy army we hate Watford , I cant wait for league two away days and league two next season, coyh, come on luton, I cant wait for the pitch invasion vs forest green

  7. were going up as champions were going win the league, come on luton coyh , come on town , come on you hatters,