Well, this is it Ladies and slightly more ginger than average Gentlemen. The final moments of Luton’s awkward, humbling, Non League era. One way or another by Saturday afternoon we could finally be back where we belong.
Remember being in the League?
Not “a” league, like the one we are in now, I mean “The League” with a capital L? Come on, you remember. It was this place that used to get stories about it on the local TV news when something happened to Luton? You used to be able to find it on the bottom of football betting coupons in the bookies? Come on!?
Even though it was only 5 years ago, the memory of Luton Town as fully-fledged member of The Football League is already resting uncomfortably in that same retro-too-soon-corner of my brain that The 1990s lives in. It seems coated in sepia tones and dated music and squad players whose faces I can’t quite place.
I say uncomfortably because it wasn’t that long ago surely? It’s like when you start seeing TV programmes celebrating “The Noughties” like they took place some distant generation ago, only now to be recalled using dusty artefacts discovered in the former dwelling of H from Steps or summink.
What was it really like in the Football League? Was it really that different? Did I really used to wear boot-cut jeans?
Well let me remind you. The teams that sparkle beneath the flash bulbs and who grace the red carpets of England’s division 4 (with a small d) have a level of glamour and prestige that you just don’t find down here amongst the Skrill. Teams like Fleetwood, Burton, Morecambe and Accrington; these are magical places. Places we thought we might never visit again. I for one never gave up on the dream of tasting the Hartlepool air on Tuesday night in January one more time.
And what of those away fans? Can anyone remember those? You used to see them wandering around town and filling at least one of the smaller pubs? They used to sort of congregate in the Oak Road and sing the mythical folk songs of their settlement to help pass the time during quieter moments. Sometimes one of them would be overweight and would wear a really brightly coloured top and stand right at the front on his own so you couldn’t miss him? Remember? No? I don’t blame you. It seems a world away. A place to which we thought we may never return.
There are kids on the terraces, maybe even reading this now, who will have only been to games during this peculiar, unjust era below the League-proper; Kids who have never known the beauty of Bristol Rovers, or the serenity of Scunthorpe. We might even be some’s dreaded, pitiful, “second” team, because, you know, Luton are only their Non-League team. I hope not too many.
But no more, brothers and sisters; because by the end of Saturday, you and me mate, we’ll be division 4.
There were a few who tried to make an example of us, who thought that we were just small enough to be forgettable. That we might just give up, scale down, sit down and shut up. Well by the end of this weekend they’ll realise that there were many more than their number, scattered across the globe but with a corner of their heart Lutonia, that refused to let this great club die.
And now they’ll have to believe us. Because The Town are going up.