Did you ever have a teacher who liked football? Mine was Dr Massey. And if ever he was droning on too monotonously about the real significance of the Dred Scott case or Andrew Jackson’s hairstyle, it was ever so easy to shoot him a sideways glance and mutter something about the supposed severity of Kevin Nicholls’ recent injury or Luton’s chances of evading relegation – ensuring at least a 15 second window of relative levity.
Whenever I step onto the platform of Luton station my mind always wanders to that dusty corner of memory – and thinks for a moment what old Massey is up to. Narcissistically, I like to think that perhaps I’m a few other people’s Dr Massey – rendered immortal in some obscure way due to my weird allegiance.
On the 24th February 2019, the world finally managed to make Luton look gorgeous. Transport setbacks necessitated a taxi to the ground – but what rolled past us looked perky and fresh. The boarded up shops, the chewing-gum spattered pavements, the indistinguishable brickwork of a low-rent town centre; they all looked alive and kicking – like a deranged and deceased late Mister, frazzled back to life with the help of some electrotherapy and a blast of unseasonal February sunshine.
Luton never changes: through the turnstile via the back of someone’s house, around some stairs to peer over a few gardens, a hop skip and a jump and there you are, atop the shoulders of pretty mediocre giants, sun dazzling on one side, a deep dark chamber of football on the other. "Consume me darkness!" I did not whisper.
In amongst the ropey viewpoints, low-hanging scoreboards, excruciatingly tight seats, and what must be the world’s most stable stadium – punctuated as it is by a giant steel girder every 10 metres – the Coventry fans were being joined together by irrepressible Mr Coventry: CJ. A ‘6 and out’ placard was placed on every seat, awaiting the 6th minute where we would hold them all aloft, and let the entire Sky Sports watching nation quite how parlous our current tenancy has become. (Thanks for organising CJ.)