Who Are These Jobbers?
Oh boy, it’s here. It’s finally here - the very first away day in the absolute car crash of a division this is. It all begins here folks. Provincial towns, crumbling stadiums, desolate seasides, pints of lager cheaper than you could ever possibly imagine, miles upon miles of delicious A-roads and being inevitably bodied by teams you thought had gone out of business.
IT’S LEAGUE ONE, BABY! I AM INCREDIBLY HYPED AND WE’RE STARTING WITH *checks notes* LUTON TO...(wait, is that right? Luton Town? I thought they were playing in the National League? Didn’t they score like eight past Yeovil last week? No? Oh, okay.)
And what is the crack with Luton Town? Well, I’ll tell you. Fans of this column (of which there are thousands I’m assured), will remember the pre-season ode to a place voted the UK’s crappest town in 2004. Well, while I would retract this statement I am unable to as it was published in actual literature and then lapped up by a baying, carefree public in those heady days of the early-2000s.
Hailing from a town that is synonymous with hat-making, it is somewhat of a disgrace that Luton Town do not incorporate some form of hat into their match attire. Instead, they infuriatingly persist with alternating their home colours. As someone sad enough for this to be an issue, it annoys me immensely.
So, Luton Town Football Club 2020 Ltd (IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME) please decide once and for all whether you want to play in orange and navy, white and orange or white and blue. It would really, really put this absolute loser of a football anorak’s mind at rest.
Contrary to popular belief, The Hatters are no longer managed by Mike Newell and have someone called Nathan Jones at the helm now. You will also be surprised to know that Steve Howard is not leading the line anymore. Danny Hylton and James Collins (not that one) slam in the goals nowadays and be sure to note these names down when they inevitably bag on Saturday.
Luton managed to wallop in 94 goals in their League Two promotion campaign yet still managed to get suitably seen-off by Big Mac-fuelled Accrington Stanley and were pipped to the title. They’re being tipped by a lot of Football League nerds to get back-to-back promotions so Sunderland shithousing a 1-0 victory would be just lovely.
How Do I Get There?
Finding pleasures from a day out in Luton is not the most enviable of tasks but, dammit, this is what Cans & Megabus is here for. For those of you driving to Bedfordshire (yeah, I didn’t know that was a county either) you will have the small mercy of not having to navigate London on this voyage southwards.
It’s a fairly straightforward route, taking the A1 (M) to junction 35 before climbing aboard the M1 all the way to junction 11 for Luton. From here follow Dunstable Road (A505) before taking a right at the roundabout for Chaul End Lane and then on to Dallow Road following the signs for Kenilworth Road. In terms of parking, your best bet is scouting out a place on the streets surrounding the ground.
If you get hopelessly lost type LU4 8AW into your sat nav.
For all of you big dawgs travelling by train, there are regular trains from London to Luton leaving from both London Bridge and St Pancras International. Luton railway station is about a 15-minute walk from Kenilworth Road.
A Love Supreme coaches leave the Stadium of Light at 7.30am with return fares priced at £42. Book your place here.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
Step off the train and take a deep breath of wholehearted Bedfordshire goodness. You’re in Luton now, boy. You’re feeling a little thirsty. You have resisted the bourgeois option of partaking in refreshment in That There London and you’re ready to soak up the culture of the UK’s most foremost hat-making town.
You want to go to place where everybody knows your name, a place where you feel at home, a place where you feel loved. That place is Wetherspoons and the nearest from Luton railway station is The White House on Bridge Street. Naturally, there are some of you that would (rightly or wrongly) turn their nose up at Tim Martin’s Emporium of Brexit and fancy somewhere a little more refined and less propaganda-y.
Fear not as The Brewery Tap on Park Street is where you can indulge those senses. Boasting a delicious range of ales and lagers it also (according to a Google Maps image) does “Italian style pizza” provided by ZaZa’s - yummy. Also, in the town centre is the duo of The Castle Tavern and Red Lion Hotel which face each other on Castle Street.
Should you take the alternative exit at Luton station you will find the homely surroundings of The Bricklayers Arms on High Town Road - another sanctuary of hand pulled ales and those fancy European lagers you’ve been banging on about.
Closer to the ground is Beech Hill Conservative Club on Leagrave Road which admits home and away fans but since I’m not a massive Tory, I shall not be partaking.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Staying over in Luton, huh? Well you’re a much bolder Massive Lads Fan than I am. I mean, London is only about 20 minutes away. Are you serious? Really? You’re staying over, you know you could be home in about four-ish hours? Okay, okay, you don’t need to shout.
Well…there’s someone called The Base Tones playing at Grosvenor Casino on Saturday night. Described as a “fresh harmony group” they channel the likes of Frankie Valli and The Four Season, The Overtones and The Baseballs for a night that is said to “bring back fond memories”. So essentially, you’re going to see a band that have billed themselves the same way the Brexit campaign did. Cool. Plus side, it’s free.
Elsewhere, Taste The Punch brings the ‘Aztec Garden with Mark Knight’ to the UK Centre for Carnival Arts in Luton for a night of disco, house, techno house and techno. It even comes with a disclaimer that “the good old British weather cannot stop the party”. Take THAT Mother Nature.
What’s The Ground Like?
We’re in League One now, ladies and gentleman. You know how you can tell we’re in League One? No, not by gazing upon the league table. No, not by looking at our fixture list and seeing we’re playing Scunthorpe United on Sunday afternoon in a week’s time. No, it’s not because we’re now buying players from Wycombe Wanderers and considering them as “a coup”.
No, fair reader, it’s because our first away game involves walking through someone’s garden to get into the away end. There is literally someone’s front door next to the away turnstile at Kenilworth Road. Someone actually owns a home that is somehow incorporated into a football ground. Essentially Kenilworth Road is the equivalent of a Northern Rail pacer train - no-one can remember when it was built, it desperately needs replacing and no-one cares.
And what’s that to the left hand side of the away supporters housed in the Oak Road Stand? Why it appears to be a row of conservatories flanking the length of the pitch. Apparently, this is what they consider hospitality in Luton.
This is the League One we deserve and this is just a tantalising taste of what delightful corners of the country we get to grace in the ensuing nine months.