It’s back. It’s been too long. After a slightly disappointing European Championships and transfer window madness, the football is back, and the first away day of the season is on.
This is the earliest I’ve been to a football match in the season, and this can only be a good thing. This is taking me in the direction of talk of a winter break in English football. No. Football fans will not accept it. I don’t care if Sam Allardyce says it will help the national team. We all know that not having a winter break is just an excuse for being technically inefficient. We lost to Iceland because we weren’t good enough. End of. Every football fan in England would much rather watch winter football than the national team get to the semi finals at a major tournament. And if your solution is League 3, you can leave now.
Anyway, onto the game. Luton Town v Yeovil Town. The battle of the clothing items, the Hatters v the Glovers. Alright, I might be building it up too much, it’s League Two football, not the Champions League. Both teams have started the season well, winning their opening league games and causing shocks in the EFL Cup, Luton beating Aston Villa, Yeovil beating Walsall.
This was my first trip to Luton and Kenilworth Road, and it’s fair to say the first impressions weren’t great. This is the 21st century, where a lot of people drive cars. So when you have thousands of people coming to watch a football match, they need somewhere to park their car. We ended up at least a mile away from the ground, having been offered a two hour parking stay next to the ground at 1:45pm. I’ll let you work out why that’s a problem.
The entrance to the away end takes you under someone’s house. I imagine living above a place where hundreds of football fans walk through each week has its downsides. The entrance is in the middle of just a normal street, so is a bit strange. Strange also is the route into the stand in the away end. You go up a set of stairs that allow you to see into at least six people’s gardens. I hope they’re careful about what they put on the washing line on match days.
A problem you don’t expect to have, is how you sit. Obviously clubs try and get as many seats as possible into the stands so to get as many fans through the doors as possible, but you have to be able to sit comfortably. There is no space between the seats, and you have to really awkwardly position your knees so that this isn’t so painful. The obvious solution would to be sit higher up so you can stand, but the view up there is largely obscured by two pillars.
Buying food at football grounds is always a bit of a risk. I’ve had enough of paying £4 for a substandard burger, so I decided to play safe with a sausage roll for £2. Mistake. How do you overcook a sausage roll? It’s not like a burger or a hot dog where you can’t serve it underdone, you can eat it without it being cooked too much. It doesn’t help that it’s being served by people who look totally uninterested, and are dressed like they haven’t been home after a late night out.
The atmosphere at Kenilworth Road was one of the more impressive things. The ground was pretty much sold out, and with about 7,800 fans there, there was a decent noise. You always get a bit of crown banter in this sort of situation, the best of which being when the Luton fans questioned the number of Yeovil fans who turned up, only to be met with the response “you have to live here, we get to go home.”
The first half was totally dominated by Luton, and the 1-0 lead they took in to the half time break could have been so much more. The goal itself was something special. An over hit cross arriving at the feet of the onrushing right back Stephen O’Donnell, who hit a thunderbolt into the top corner from around 25 yards. It would have been two or three at the break had it not been for a couple of tremendous saves from Yeovil ‘keeper Artur Krysiak.
The second half bought about a change from Yeovil. There was more belief in the way they went forward, and more of an understanding of what they were doing after striker Tahvon Campbell replaced injured centre back Alex Lacey midway through the first half. Campbell in particular made a huge difference in the last 45 minutes, and created numerous opportunities. It was a miracle that one of these opportunities didn’t go in, particularly when three came in quick succession from about 10 yards out.
The goal that the Glovers deserved came in the 78th minute, with Tom Eaves leaping like a salmon to head home from Kevin Dawson’s cross. I have criticised Eaves quite a bit in the past, and I maintain that he looks a bit awkward when it comes to running, but if he can score goals like that, I won’t complain too much.
There were a few half chances now and then in the last ten minutes, but nothing that really made it seem like either side were good enough to get a winner. The last ten were instead dominated by ironic Yeovil shouts of “handball” in response to some strange appeals from Luton fans and players.
I’m not going to rule out a return to Kenilworth Road at some point in the future, but it certainly won’t be high on my priority list. The game was excellent, the atmosphere was good, but the ground, and the whole experience, was not great.
Rating out of 10: The ground will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but the atmosphere certainly improved the day. 5.5/10