20 November 2013

The green, green grass of home

No more clogging our muddy way to a point in a tough-place-to-go-on-a-Tuesday-night. No more motorway services or crack of dawn trains, British Transport Police or roofless rain-soaked terraces: the palatial Kenilworth Road and its perfect green carpet awaits.

If my abacus is on the ball it’s been 6 weeks since we’ve been home. The pile of unopened post and untouched milk bottles at the door will have alarmed the neighbours, and there’s an unpopular and disturbing smell coming from the fridge that no one can quite place. It’s like that time Gurney got in.

When we went off on our travels it was barely autumn. Now back within Bedfordshire borders winter bears down on us like a wide-eyed Andre Gray chasing a heavy through-ball. If our month-out has taught us anything it’s that we’re certainly tough to beat, and any football cliché manual or jaded Alan Hansen highlight reel will tell you that’s the foundation for any successful side.

On our latest tour of England’s forgotten towns Luton’s brave men and women have followed in big numbers too, sensing meaning in this unbeaten league run of ours. They return to Town with irreplaceable ear-chapped memories, momentous petrol bills and broadened horizons, but yearning for the familiar knee-dented comfort of Kenilworth Road.

As it transpires, suburban south east London’s Welling are the first to visit since the heating went on. They make the trip from what almost 800 of us were horrified to discover recently is no Garden City, but a charmingly endless high street of cash converters and ludicrously cheap beer that can take comfort in the fact that while it’s not green, at least it’s not Hertfordshire.

With their drizzly FA Cup 1st round defeat of a lacklustre Luton side earlier in the month, it may yet prove that Welling have done us a big favour.

All romance and poetry of our stay in The Skrill Premier aside, the influence of winter cup successes have often taken their toll on the squad and the mood of Bedfordshire’s 6 thousand most committed, come springtime.

As December creeps, Conference pitches are prone to freezing-over and while the annual fixture pile-up of rearranged games and the glamour of the FA Trophy take hold of the teams around us, much as we all enjoyed it last time round, not having an FA Cup run to turn the heads and ankles of the players might not be a bad thing.

Two home games on the bounce on our uniquely manicured surface now lay ahead, with no need to bypass our skilful midfield for fear of getting the ball all muddy.

Both teams coming to town have already beaten us this season, but with the ball on the deck and the familiar creaking floorboards of home beneath our feet, 6 points will see us enter a tough December with the wind at our back and the points on the board to give Richard Money something to rant about come Christmas. Welcome home.

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