12 August 2014

There once was a Town Called Malice

Well that was ridiculous; we were only popping out for a bit. Instead, for five long years, nothing. No one heard a peep. Apparently they said we disappeared, feared dead. Word finally trickled through that we’d gone away; far away, scouring the depths of deepest blue, dreams squared-away among the skrill before finally, gloriously coming back up for air.

Argh! Wait, what? Where are we? How long have we been asleep?
Five years? What have we missed?

Oasis have WHAT? What, for good? Yeah right, mate. I’ve heard it all before.
They’ll never really split up. More chance of seeing Cardiff play in red shirts at home.

Hang on, THE Jimmy Saville? Why’s he got keys to Broadmoor?
I bet the News of the World are all over that! I’m telling everyone on MySpace.

Hashtag? Nah you’re alright mate. I’m mad enough without the gear...

We’ve awoken in a different world alright, brothers and sisters.

Given the apparent blackout, those outside of Lutonia must be picturing us as a sort of mysterious Travis Henderson figure from the film Paris, Texas. Wandering dehydrated out of the non-league desert, all mute and confused years after disappearing.

You’ve heard of Paris, Texas? The fella with the red baseball cap and the lovely beard? No?

Alright, what about Harold Bishop then? We’re just like old Harold Bishop reappearing on Ramsey Street aren’t we? LOL! We’re Harold Bishop and Sky Sports is Lou Carpenter. Lou welcomes back old Jelly Belly with an unconvincing smile and he’s got loads of brilliant banter for his long lost chum, but Harold (us) just stares back at him blankly, seeing his once dazzling and long-cultivated wit with the cold eyes of a stranger for the first time. All together now: “Harold Bishop’s Barmy Ar...”

Come on! You know, Harold Bishop? Neighbours? Old Jelly Belly... Nothing?

Alright that doesn’t work, maybe we’re more like a film about a banished renegade or something: expelled from the top table as selfish economic waves crash around the crumbling foundations of modern football while the mega rich float away in the arks of oligarchs, only for us to raise an army, regroup and rise again victorious. Sort of like Val Kilmer’s character in Willow or summink? Yeah?

Erm... What else? Maybe we’re a bit like... err... Cheryl Cole being... err... back on X Factor an’ that? Nope? I give up.

The media are in the midst of re-writing their own grand narratives around the fall and rise of Luton Town of course, and none of them are really any more faithful to actual events than the pile of Tyldesley above.

Phrases like “harshly treated” are being bandied around in the press and TV studios like it has forever been the accepted consensus about our punishment; our supporters are newly hailed as miraculous and loyal. The sanctimonious voices that once branded our club cheats and who implied the fans’ stance was mindless and naive Tippexed over forever.

John Still’s arrival, in the media’s grand narrative, is remembered as being an obvious fit for our sleeping giant forgetting that he was actually seen by many as too old and after one last pay packet: an unlikely Steven Seagal for our club under siege. (Come on, SEAGAL? You bloody know Seagal you philistines.)

The whole town has seemed under siege at times in recent past, bracing while a hail of media hatchet jobs about rats that run in packs and streets divided by religious strife rained down.

It was the pervading siege mentality that probably stood our disparate community of supporters in good stead through the years of decline, looking back. Despite the disappointment of relegations and near misses, we were already a bit of a unit, even before Still arrived and worked his magic.

Unfashionable; Underdog; “Crappest town in Britain”, we’re used to it. Certain areas of the ground (the fun ones, let’s face it) will always revel in the implied unwelcoming malice that hovers just beneath the fog of champions positivity in the Kenilworth Road air even now. As the song goes, it’s not that we don’t care that no one likes us, that’s just “the way we like it”.

The truly beautiful thing is that we’re still all here after the bombardments of the past five, six, seven years. The fact that we’re arriving back in the Football League with momentum on as well as off the pitch might seem like a bit of a bonus to those that stood in hope outside Soho Square awaiting our fate all those years ago.

So welcome back, you stalwart few. Lovely to see you again. Have you lost weight?

As is the case for many of our players, this is first time these pages have flapped in the warm breeze of the Football League and long may it continue.

It’s a nice feeling, this. John Still’s Never Ending Summer of 2014 they’ll call it on the blackboard above the urinals in the Brickies, some might just call it being back in Division 4. Either way there’s a few more pages to be written in the real story of Luton Town’s revival yet and when the leaves fall from the trees and the warm glow of the media’s spotlight dims we’ll still be trekking up and down the motorways and the train carriages of England hoping that the day brings more glory than despair, and treating both imposters with similar disdain.

Well, I could go on for hours and I probably will
but I'd sooner put some joy back in
this Town Called Malice.

(That one’s The Jam. But you knew that.)

Enjoy the season, everyone.

Up the Town.

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