29 December 2013

2014: for Luton legends in the making

All around me people clamber back across seats trying to remember where they were standing before the 4th, no, 5th goal went in. The Kenny End rises to their feet in spontaneous song. The length of the pitch away Adidas Sambas and Gazelles are held aloft while Christmas-socked-feet dance on the wooden boards below. As the old year departs and a new one starts we’re exactly where we want to be: top of the league.

My throat is still hoarse. This is probably still true for me today and maybe for you whether you’re reading this online or in the programme on New Year’s Day, and not just because of New Year’s Eve excess.

Eight-and-a-half thousand crammed mainly into the home areas of our faithful old ground for Saturday’s visit of Kidderminster Harriers. Queues in the pub and at the Ticket Office told us that the ground was going to be bulging and creaking at the seams come kick-off. Like my mum’s dining table it never seems built to take the capacity of the whole family, but when they all come home for Christmas and we’re forced to huddle shoulder to shoulder, it does the job manfully. A big new one would surely only be useful on days like this?

We came into the game with the continuation of our ever-growing momentum slightly in question. At The Hive on Boxing Day Jonathan Smith suffered a horrific leg break, the sound of which was so loud you could hear it 5 miles away in actual Barnet. A terrible moment for a player who has played a big part in probably the best first half of a season I can remember. Smith is a popular bloke and will be a massive loss to the squad, and I join the scores of supporters in wishing him well with his recovery.

With Smith out of the side and the players and staff visibly shaken by the incident, were we going to be strong enough (6-0) to (six nil) cope with (it was SIX NIL, mate) promotion hopefuls Kiddy? Just a bit...

Almost a year to the day since Smith signed his contract a lot has changed in the world of Luton Town. This time last season for one reason or another we had barely played in the league during December and the only thing on people’s minds was a cup run that along with the weather would contribute to a fixture pile up that our squad and management at the time were not capable of navigating.

Crowds dropped off. Season ticket stubs remained intact and as winter turned into spring, starting a Luton song in the stands at Kenilworth Road got the kind of reception that it might get at a funeral. The funeral of a Watford fan. The funeral of a Watford fan whose friends and family are all deaf.

What a difference a year makes though eh, ladies and gentlemen? You don’t need me to tell you how good it feels to finally be top of this league. Or to remind you that this marathon is not a sprint, and that it’s a funny old game, and that the rest of the squad, and their bones, are just as human and fragile as Jonathan Smith’s.

But while I recharge my vocal chords and loosen my laces for Barnet at home I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I won’t and neither should you, brothers and sisters.

Because 2014 stretches out before this group of players and their manager; it is theirs for the taking. For Luton legends in the making.

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