Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An away day to watch the Hatters

We all have our burdens to carry, I'm told, and one of mine is being a Luton Town supporter. I have no connection to the town, so why the Hatters?

I'm a north Londoner by upbringing, but by a fluke of geography, one of the easiest Football League teams to reach from my childhood home is Luton Town, and they wore orange shirts - I'm an old Liberal, and that was their colour too - and so that's how I ended up, after a brief, and somehow unsatisfying flirtation with Queens Park Rangers.

When I still lived in North London, I would go and watch them play erratically (my attendance and their performance both), as the politics got in the way, and when I married and moved to South London, that was it. Until this weekend past, that is. With Ros scheduled to be away, I was at a loose end. We also needed a Saturday night stay in an Intercontinental Hotel Group property - it's a long story - so, where were Luton playing?

The answer, it turned out, was Chester, but the local hotels were either full, or difficult to get to, but a trawl through the website led me towards the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport, so that was alright.

The other issue was getting to Chester. The best standard class fare that would get me to Chester in time for kick-off was £111.50, which is a bit stiff for a football match. Luckily, the first class fare was a much more reasonable £48.00 (go figure!), and I could also get back from Manchester Airport for the same amount. So, bookings made, I waited for Saturday to come.

Luton had gone ten games unbeaten in the Skrill Conference Premier (think Fifth Division, or League Three for you young people) and were second behind Cambridge United, the conquerors of the mighty Needham Market two weeks ago, and Chester were in the bottom five, so prospects were good as I traveled across the Stour to London and then up the West Coast Main Line.

I had a nice walk around Chester, as well as a modest luncheon, before heading to the ground through a traffic jam. I might not have made kick-off had it not been for the fact that the Luton Town team coach was stuck just ahead of us...

The match itself was a bit of a disappointment, after Luton swept Chester off the park for the first fifteen minutes, then seemed to forget that keeping the ball on the ground was what had allowed them to do so. Chester scored a pretty good goal, but otherwise weren't that good. So, 1-1 it ended up, and whilst it was a bit disappointing, it was a point well-earned.

All I had to do was get to Manchester Airport, where dinner and a comfy bed awaited...

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