30 March 2014

Being there when it happens

“When are we going to win the league?” That question was once only posed rhetorically in Luton; whispered longingly into half-empty pint glasses on matchday evenings in pubs half-full of Premier League consumers clapping witlessly at the TV. And now? Well now the question’s a bit more specific than that...

Before you start, I know. Nothing’s won until it’s won and we’ve all been hurt too many times in recent past to count chickens before they’ve hatched. But I wrote in these pages back in December that we were going up as champions and I’m nothing if not stubborn.

That said, if back then you’d have offered this wide-eyed blogger our current position with less than a month to go, as he stood blowing the steam from the lava-like contents of a Chicken Balti Pie while the fourth goal flew in against Gateshead, he’d have aimed a dismissive, Guinness-coated smile in your direction and sent you on your way with your ludicrous optimism, oh fraudulent Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

And it’s not just me talking in “whens” rather than “ifs” now. You’re all doing it. I’ve heard you. So if this all goes wrong it’ll be you that jinxed it as well as me, alright? Good.

Discussions about football for the last few weeks of this season have been replaced by sophisticated mathematic projections as differing scenarios and permutations are played out: Will it be Tamworth? Will it be Braintree? What about Welling? Will it even be when we’re playing? With our unjust 5 year sentence almost served, one thing seems clear: if it happens (and it will) we all want to be there.

As fun as it was listening to the breathless radio commentary from Diverse FM as Benson slotted home the winner up at Grimsby the other night, that solitary living room celebration won’t do for me on the day we finally seal our return to the Football League. When that moment comes I don’t want to be hashtagging #LutonAreBack, I want to be stood next to you singing it. Well, maybe not you.

And I don’t just want to be there when we win it, I want to witness it all. I want to be there when we get the trophy and I want to be at that last home game too for the joyous pitch invasion and lap of honour (or two laps I suppose given we do one every week. I dunno, maybe there’ll be special hats or something? Either way, like).

I want to be at Hyde away too, for a final sunny goodbye to this dark cupboard under English football’s stairs. Its love for us may be unrequited by some, but just like the Littlewoods Cup Final and the defeat of John Gurney it is part of our story now and worthy of a good send off.

So book the tickets, the trains and the coaches. Prepare the babysitters, the week in rehab and the overdraft. Dust off that boater and bring out the banners from the days gone by.

The nail-biting may not end for a few games yet, but whenever it finally does I hope you and I are there, mate. Because we deserve it. And I might need you to lend us a tenner.

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