12 August 2015

The Hatters of Kenilworth Road: still home for now

Whether you spent your summer in Louisiana, Lusaka or Lewsey Farm; voting Labour or Tory; Snap Chatting in your Snap Back or at the Bingo Hall napping on your Jack, when Saturday comes we are all heading back home...


The first league game at Kenilworth Road is as close as adults of Lutopia get to a first day back at school. That same subtle smugness in new trainers, only instead of playgrounds it’s in pubs with sticky carpets and graffiti’d bog doors that have missed you as much as you’ve missed them. 

Four-deep queues for the bar ring out with blokes overselling their 3 star holidays and invented Spanish girlfriends, while handshakes and nods reunite men and women whose full names neither know... and we’re all heading for one place.

Kenilworth Road. The old ground is starting to feel like an elderly grandparent you’ve just realised might not be around forever. We’re told our immortal home will soon be mortal once more with the promised announcement of a “preferred site” and talk of Council support and it’s all I can do not to sit her down, make her a nice cup of tea and ask her about the War.

A new ground could mean so much for the future of Luton Town Football Club. One day we could be a club that doesn’t run at a loss, a club that families will drive to from Milton Keynes in their family cars with rucksacks full of Fruit Shoots and ... ZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZzzzz.

Won’t be the same will it? To be fair, I felt like that when they recast Aunt Viv in Fresh prince of Bel-Air and to be honest by the third time Uncle Phil had chucked Jazz out of the front door, I’d forgotten what the old one looked like. Presumably it’ll be the same for this. 

A decent number of you are already two magic moments into this new term, of course. 

Before a Football League ball was kicked at Kenilworth Road the Old Girl had already hosted a minor League Cup upset vs. Championship Bristol City on Tuesday night, where The Town began to shine just as the sultry floodlights were warming up during the second half.

An opening away-day up north overflowed with all the fun of a late equaliser at Accrington, where, wonderfully, the promise of Hatters hoards on the M1 had earlier caused hundreds of Watford fans, clutching carrier bags on official coaches to Goodison Park, to go via the M42 instead and miss their opening goal in the Premier League.

For the rest of us, Bury Park’s perfect pitch offers plenty of “Who is that fella over there?” fare for the back-of-the-programme-new-squad-number-squadron, with more new signings than John can comfortably drive over from Dagenham in his Capri Ghia. 

You’ll have no trouble spotting the rugged yet graceful “Derry Pele”, his complexion throbbing in the afternoon sun like Jim Smith’s nose. Up top the floppy haired initials CMS should spell goals and graft, while a young man named Jack Marriott winces in the shadows as John Still tenderly tattoos the words “SELL ON CLAUSE” to the bottom of his neck. 

Add the usual School of Dagenham alumni and children of West Ham to the existing group, including the fit again Pelly “as good as a new signing” Ruddock Mpanzu, and the league is surely ours for the taking. But I say that every year.

Here’s to another vintage season for the Hatters of Kenilworth Road. Still home for now.

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