Spyin Kop: Luton (A) - FA Cup 3rd Round

Posted by Millsee on January 3, 2006, 11:18:28 PM

It is the mark of a winning team when you can see disappointment etched on the face of supporters having witnessed their team drop their first points in 11 games. The Benitez revolution rolls on through Anfield.

Despite succumbing to a 2-2 draw against a team firmly ensconced in the Premiership top 8 on Monday, Liverpool did everything to beat Bolton: their second goal had a foul, an offside AND a handball before the ball finished in the net. Nevertheless and somewhat expectedly, the media took the opportunity to leap on the negative and headlines were marked by an alleged deliberate stamp by Gerrard (it wasn’t) and a petulant and painful kick by Sissoko on Diouf. What thousands of reds wouldn’t have done to have been in Momo’s boots at that moment!

However, attention is deflected from the Premiership this weekend to one of the unique events in the sporting calendar: the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Saturday is a traditional day of giant-killings and teams of amateur players pitted against the might of the Premiership. Liverpool might count themselves unlucky to be drawn against neither an opposition with whom they are familiar, nor a team they might see as an “easy” target.

Luton Town currently sit in the top half of the Championship, just 3 points behind the play-off places, but having played a game more than Preston, currently in 6th.  Luton’s form in the Championship has been poor of late, the Hatters having taken just 4 points from the last 7 games and they are still smarting from Monday’s loss to arch-rivals Watford. Hopefully, Luton’s poor form will continue into this weekend as the media tee up a potential upset in Bedfordshire.


Luton Town v Liverpool
Saturday, 7 January 2006
Kenilworth Road Stadium, Maple Road, Luton
KO 5:30pm

Club Information



Founded: 1885
Club Nickname: The Hatters
Ground Capacity: 10,248 (all-seated)
Club Dentist: A. Chris BDSA (Syd)    
Club Chaplain: Rev. David Steell

Honours

2004-05   League 1 Champions
1988-89   Littlewoods Cup Finalists
1987-88   Simod Cup Finalists, Littlewoods Cup Winners
1981-82   Division 2 Champions
1967-68   Division 4 Champions
1958-59   FA Cup Finalists
1936-37   Division 3 Champions

History

The history of Luton Town Football Club began with the amalgamation of two existing clubs, The Wanderers and The Excelsiors.  A meeting at Luton Town Hall on April 11, 1885, passed the resolution that the “Luton Town Club be formed” and decreed that the colours should be “navy blue and pink halves for both shirts and caps”. 

An early history saw a move to the new Kenilworth Road Stadium in 1905 and for the pre-war 20th Century, LTFC seemed to spend most of their time bouncing between the Southern League (the early Division 3) and Division 2. Luton’s highest ever finish in the league came in the 1957-58 season when 8th place was secured under the guidance of manager Dally Duncan. In 1959, Luton reached the FA Cup final having swept aside Stanley Matthews' Blackpool, a game which saw a record 30,069 crowd at Kenilworth Road. Trivia buffs will be interested to note that it was Luton’s 1961 FA Cup tie against Manchester City that saw Dennis Law put 7 goals away, only for the Blues to eventually lose the tie. (Law scored a double-hat-trick to put City 6-2 up when the tie was abandoned due to fog.  Luton won the re-staged match by 3 goals to 1).

The 60s and 70s were kinder to Luton. They went 36 home games undefeated between May 1968 and December 1969; 15 home wins on the spin from April 1967 to December 1967; plus 20 clean sheets in the 1969-70 season.

The best season in Luton's history, 1987-1988, saw them winning the Littlewoods Cup, reaching the FA Cup Semi-Final and the Simod Cup Final, and finishing ninth in the League. Unfortunately, the post-Heysel European ban was in force at the time and the Hatters were prevented from playing in the UEFA Cup. (Evertonians: take note of the absence of bitterness and the complete lack of claims that Luton “could have been the best club in the world if it wasn’t for Heysel”).

Luton struggled with the effect of boardroom battles from1999 to 2003 which led to the formation of a Supporters’ Trust. Bizarre events during that period included the suggested renaming of the club to London Luton Football Club and the establishment of a phone voting system for supporters to choose the club’s next manager. The phone vote (at 50p a go!) was subsequently ignored and Mike Newell – not the fan’s choice - was installed as manager, despite the vote heavily favouring the management team of Joe Kinnear and Mick Harford. Newell’s first act as manager was the somewhat politically astute move of appointing Mick Hartford to the club as First-Team Coach and Director of Football.

The club’s turmoil ended with the departure of the Chairman in 2003 following the Football League’s suspension of payments from sponsorship and TV revenues. The club was placed into protective Administrative Receivership in 2003. Luton was eventually taken over by “The Bill Tomlins Sports Management Consortium” in 2004.

In 2005, the Hatters sealed the League One Championship and were promoted to the Coca-Cola Championship in the 2004/05 season.

Confidence is high at Luton. A good position in the Championship is the least that the club and its loyal following deserves. Many suspect it won’t be too long before Luton are once again in the top flight of the football league.

Recent Form

L: Watford (H) 1-2
L: Ipswich (A) 0-1
W: Brighton (H) 3-0
D: Derby (A) 1-1
L: Stoke City (H) 1-2
L: Reading (A) 0-3

Omens

Liverpool last played the Hatters in the FA Cup in 1987. Remarkably, the tie was taken to 3 games before the reds succumbed to a 3-0 loss at Kenilworth Road. The last time Liverpool have beaten Luton in the FA Cup was in 1939 with Balmer (2) and Paterson contributing to a 3-0 win.

In 1983, Liverpool beat Luton 6-0 at Anfield, with Ian Rush scoring 5 of the goals.

Spyin' Kop

For this week’s Spyin’ Kop, we have enlisted the help of the unofficial fan site www.lutonfc.com. The site certainly the best Luton FC website (including the offical site) and would hold its own against any of the fan sites of any club. It is well designed, easy to navigate, is filled with extremely useful club information (that makes this author’s job a whole lot easier!) and has a vibrant online community.  Simon Pitts (the website’s very own stoz) and James Garley pick up the baton, and are joined by Dave Hird (thanks to Hightown Phil for the contact). Simon’s Statto Index can also be found here.


You had a pretty rough time at the end of the 2003/04 season with the uncertainty of the takeover. How did that all pan out, and do you think you came out of it a stronger club?

SP: Well the summer of 2004 will certainly live long in the memory of all Luton fans! The Club has certainly come out stronger than ever, with great team spirit being shown in all departments. The John Gurney era will never be forgotten, and although the "Manager Idol" competition was ridiculed throughout football we did get ourselves a quality manager in former player Mike Newell.

JG: We’d just been taken over buy a guy called John Gurney – he proposed all sorts, including the construction of a new stadium that would – amongst other things – house a new shopping centre as well as a Formula 1 motor racing track! He envisaged that within a few years we would be bigger than Real Madrid/Barcelona etc. and would be the biggest club in the World and, to quote him, “Back in Europe where we rightfully belong”. For the record we’ve never been in Europe in our history! We found out some rather startling things about him – how he’d bought Bedford Rugby Club previously and then threatened to bankrupt them etc.! He didn’t start his job off at Luton any better either – he immediately sacked manager Joe Kinnear and his assistant Mick Harford – arguably the greatest-ever and most popular Hatter of all-time – and then announced that he would run a ‘Pop Idol’ style vote for the new manager! We were told we could vote for whoever we wanted to be the new manager – so those that didn’t see through this money-making scam all voted for Joe Kinnear to be reinstalled as boss – but obviously Kinnear refused to return to work for the man who had just sacked him – so we were told that of all the managers in the World we could vote for – the man we had chose to be the new boss was Mike Newell, who had just been sacked as Hartlepool United manager!

The fans eventually ousted Gurney after forming a supporters’ trust – called Trust In Luton – and refusing to buy season tickets. The Trust called in a debt that Gurney couldn’t pay – he didn’t have that sort of money – and so off he went after the most bizarre few summer months I think ANY club would ever had endured!

To his credit, Newell – who the fans hadn’t wanted to replace the then popular Kinnear – came in and did a sterling job considering the circumstances and the fact we were in administration. After finishing 9th in League One in 2003-04, we stormed to the title the following season – amassing a mammoth 98 points – the highest tally in our history – and returned to the Championship after some 10 years in the bottom two Divisions of the Football League. Newell is now, of course, a hero with the fans, and should be fairly popular with you guys too…he is an avid Liverpool fan and was even present at the Champions League final in Istanbul! He bases his management style on his hero – Bob Paisley.

DH: Yes, the whole John Gurney saga was an extreme low point for the club. He purchased the club for four pounds from the previous owner and immediately sacked popular management duo Joe Kinnear and Mick Harford. This did not go down well with the supporters. He famously released a plan for the club on the official website which had details of an 80,000 seater stadium on stilts over the motorway with a floating pitch, complete with an F1 race track that he claimed would host the British grand prix. He was going to change the club name from Luton to London-Luton, so he could cash in on revenue from the airport. The entire report can be read here in all its glory.

Then came manager idol. The supporters could vote for the next manager via phone lines. There were three candidates: Joe Kinnear, Steve Cotterill and Mike Newell. It was a complete farce of course with the whole thing being rigged. Kinnear was offered the job but turned it down (“Champagne ideas with a Coca Cola budget” he said), Cotterill said no (“Right club, wrong time” was his view) so it left Mike Newell, who Gurney eventually appointed.

After failing to pay the players and staff their wages the club went into administrative receivership which meant Gurney was gone. The club was eventually bought by a consortium led by Bill Tomlins. Without doubt the club came out stronger. Despite being tipped as a terrible appointment, Newell has proved a huge success and proved himself to be a better manager than Kinnear ever was. Under Kinnear the club were losing a fortune every month with ridiculously high wages for lower division players. In my opinion if the Gurney saga never happened we would still be struggling in the lower leagues.


How has the season gone so far for Luton? Can you really expect a place in the play-offs and potentially a place in next year's elite? How do you think you would get on in the Premiership given the strength of your current squad?

SP: The season started superbly, we were top after 3 games! We've surprised several teams with our neat, attractive, attacking football, and have beaten all 3 of the relegated Premiership sides! Recently our away form has not been good, and we've lost a couple of games at home that really were there for the winning. Having said all that we're 9th after 28 games and still only 3 points from the play offs, a position that I'm sure all Luton fans would have accepted at the beginning of the season. Yes we all still have hopes of a play off place come May, mainly because you don't become a bad side overnight, and I'm sure we can re-find the form and the results from earlier in the season. Should we get promoted then there would certainly need to be some additions to the squad, to strengthen all areas. Having said that I'm hopeful that we will see a few new faces in the current transfer window to help get us back into those play off places this season!

JG: I think we’ll just miss out on the play-offs this season unfortunately. I’d love to think we could reach them, but after a superb start to the season, we’ve faltered recently and even lost to arch rivals Watford at home in our last match – that hurt…a lot! Our home form has generally been good and the basis for our success, although we’ve stumbled a bit of late at Kenilworth Road, losing to Burnley, Stoke City and our friends (!) from Hertfordshire in recent weeks. If we did manage to reach the Premiership, I think we could probably safely say that it would be a one-season stay rather like Sunderland are bound to do now this season.

DH: We had a fantastic start to the season which began with a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. To beat a side that had just been playing in the Premiership a few months before, on their own turf was a great achievement and set us up for a good few months of football. We were holding our own against every team we played and demolished highly rated sides such as Norwich and Preston. Then on the 22nd of October we conceded a last minute goal against Plymouth and we have not been the same since. Its strange how one event can change an entire season. Since then we have picked up just three wins and have picked up just one point away from home.

Despite our bad form we have remained in the chasing pack for a play off place and have every chance of getting in those play off places come May.  However our current squad would not stand a chance in the Premiership. We would need to bring in many players if we were to compete in the top division.


Mike Newell. Alleged Liverpool Fan. Blueshite Player. In a Court of Law, how would you defend him?

SP: This first thing I would do is study the evidence available to me........

Evidence: Michael (Mike) Newell was born in Liverpool in January 1965.
Verdict: Inconclusive.

Evidence: Mike Newell played for Everton
Verdict: Most likely an Evertonian!

Evidence: Mike Newell scored a hat trick (for Luton!!) against Liverpool in 1986/87, a match Luton won 4-1.
Verdict: Surely not a Red?!?

Evidence: Mike Newell scored in Luton's 3-0 FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Liverpool in the same season.
Verdict: Well he appears to like scoring against Liverpool!

Evidence: Mike Newell, whilst playing for Blackburn, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Anfield, 1993/94. Verdict: I'm close to a decision now...........

BUT wait one moment.......some late evidence coming through......

Isn't this the same Mike Newell who travelled to the two all-English European Cup semi finals last season and then to Istanbul for the final itself?!? Isn't this the same Mike Newell who was on schoolboy terms with Liverpool and was gutted that he wasn't signed on professional terms by his beloved Reds?!? It's common knowledge that Mike Newell is a Liverpool fan, and always has been!!

JG: Although he played for Everton, he actually started his career at Liverpool as a player but he was released without making a senior appearance. As stated previously, he and his whole family are massive Liverpool fans and he is elated that we are playing you in this Cup game – it is a game he has dreamed of. Considering he watches Liverpool in action every opportunity he gets, we might have a slim (and I mean slim!) chance of beating you as he will know more than most opposing managers about your style/tactics/players, etc.

DH: Ever since the appointment of Newell my respect for him has steadily increased. When he first came to the club no one wanted him. He had already been released by Hartlepool after a poor spell there. However after a promotion and a decent start to this season he is now regarded as one of the best young managers in the game. His man management skills are top notch and he knows how to get the best out of his players.


You've had some incredible players in your time: Les Sealey, Jesse Pye, David Preece, Bruce Rioch, Peter Nicholas, Mick Harford and the fantastic Bob Morton. Is there anyone in your current squad who would come close to these legends, and why?

SP: For his goal scoring record Steve Howard could claim some rights, he's the 3rd highest post-war Luton goalscorer with 96 goals from 209 appearances for the Hatters. Statistics aren't everything so I wouldn't put him in the same bracket as the likes of Mick Harford, Brian Stein and Bob Morton though. Some fans would say that Kevin Nicholls leadership qualities and his "never say die" attitude could see him listed as a "legend". Coming through this season are Marcus Heikkinen and Carlos Edwards, both of whom are current Internationals and were free signing transfers in the summer. Edwards will be representing Trinidad & Tobago at the World Cup this year, the first Luton player to do so for 20 years! Their performances this season could certainly see them up amongst the Luton greats, assuming we can hold onto them! I would also like to nominate Mike Newell as one of the "Manager legends", for what he has achieved in the past few seasons.

JG: Curtis Davies, who we sold to WBA in August could well have gone on to become a Luton legend – he is a superb player and will surely play for England one day.  He’s even captain of WBA at the moment at the age of just 20, so it shows the talent he has.  Of the current squad, Finnish defender Markus Heikkinen is showing his class and he partners your very own Sami Hyypia in the centre of Finland’s defence.  Not sure if he’ll stay with us too long though if he continues his fine form.  Winger Carlos Edwards is also a tricky customer and will be in Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup squad when they meet England.

DH: There is no one in our squad who can match those legends. Kevin Nicholls though, the club captain has become a firm favourite with Hatters fans and will be remembered as a great player who always gave his all and as someone who cared about the supporters. He is always the first (and sometimes the only) player on the pitch to go up to each stand to applaud the fans and is always the last to leave. Perhaps if he captains us to the Premiership he may become a true Luton legend.


What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

SP: In some ways my expectations haven't changed, and in some ways they have. I was confident that we would survive in this division, and that we would surprise teams. We started very well, considering our opening 3 matches were Crystal Palace away (we won 2-1), Southampton home (won 3-2) and Leeds home (drew 0-0) it was not expected that we would be top after these fixtures! Although we hung around the upper play off places for many matches we've slipped more recently. Given the quality of football I've seen this season I know Luton are capable of beating anybody in this league, and therefore a play off place is far more of an expectation than an optimistic dream that it was at the beginning of the season. Missing out would be a disappointment, but at the same time being realistic what has already happened has been a fantastic achievement for everyone involved at Luton Town Football Club.

JG: I think everyone would have been happy just to survive at the start of the season – to avoid relegation – but our expectations have, perhaps rather harshly, gone up after our tremendous start to this season.  Mid-table mediocrity is likely, although a play-off push is still within our reach.

DH: My expectations have changed a great deal as have most other Luton fans. At the beginning of the season we would have probably expected a lower half finish but above the relegation zone. We won League 1 by 12 points and we were confident we could stay in the league. After the first few months on this season we realised we may be able to achieve something in this league and so expectations rose. Supporters are reacting badly to the recent dip in form which shows how our expectations have raised over the course of the season.


Who do you think is your most important player(s), and who are the ones that you wouldn't mind seeing the back of?

SP: The eleven players on the pitch are always the most important......as it's them that can win the games! :-) Seriously rather than our most important player, we need to have all our players on their game because they can be superb as a team. Looking at our key players, well in defence our normal centre back partnership of Australian Chris Coyne and Finnish international Marcus Heikkinen can control most strikers in the this league.

In midfield it's important that Kevin Nicholls shows his usual determination, committment and leadership qualities to control the middle of the park. On the wings we have our "Croatian Sensation" Ahmet Brkovic, who has probably more successful overhead kicks than any other player in the country and Carlos Edwards who will run and run and run at defences all afternoon.

Steve Howard is our top scorer, and he's the aerial "threat", but with the constant running of Rowan Vine, the goal scoring Northen Ireland international Warren Feeney and the Nigerian International Enoch Showunmi (who is capable of anything and everything from the sublime to the ridiculous!) we have a good variety of forwards to rely on.

I wouldn't say there are any players I wouldn't mind seeing the back of, but there are some fringe players that for their own career development and progression would be better getting first team football at a lower level.

JG: As mentioned above, Markus Heikkinen is a class act, winger Carlos Edwards loves to run at players and in Steve Howard we have a powerful striker who is one of our all-time top goal scorers. He has been getting some stick from sections of Luton fans recently, but when on top of his game, he can be lethal, especially in the air.

DH: In goal, Marlon Beresford is a reliable and experienced keeper who is vital to our success. In defence recent signing Markus Heikkenen who joined from Aberdeen in the summer has been a huge success. He is a great reader of the game and can mark some of the best championship strikers out the game. You may also be interested to know that he partners Sami Hyppia in the Finnish national team's defence. In midfield, Kevin Nicholls who I mentioned earlier is a great leader and is not afraid to get stuck in. I'm looking forward to see how he copes with the Liverpool midfield especially if he is up against the likes of Gerrard and Alonso.

Our best player in my opinion is Carlos Edwards. He plays on the right wing and is a handful for any left back. He has won the man of the match awarded at four out of the last five home games. He is without doubt Premiership bound. Up front we have Steve Howard who has been the clubs top goal scorer for the last four years. Despite being accused of laziness by some Luton fans he has always been amongst the goals and is a decent target man.

To tell you the truth due to the small size of our squad I don't think we can let any players go at this rate. There have been no players who have been truly awful this season so I don't see the need to have a clearout just yet.


Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might want to take a look at?

SP: Young is such an unassigned term term that I'll mention a few players that are under 25. Leon Barnett is currently being labelled the next Curtis Davies (sold to West Brom for £3m earlier in the season). At just 20, and with 14 appearances to his name, he is certainly one to keep an eye on as he has shown that despite his inexperience he can handle the pressure of Championship football. Given an injury to Chris Coyne it may be that Barnett features on Saturday.

Kevin Foley is a Republic of Ireland U21 international, and a very competent player at right back. Despite only turning 21 in November Foley has 105 appearances for the Hatters, and 5 goals to his name. Can play in both defence and midfield, and loves to run through from right back when given the opportunity.

Our forwards consist of 3 players under 25, and whilst they may not be classed as "up and coming" they deserve a mention, with Rowan Vine (23), Enoch Showunmi (23) and Warren Feeney (24).

You'll be impressed with Vine's workrate, signed from Portsmouth in the summer after a season long loan last year, Rowan has recently returned from a back injury to remind Luton fans what energy and determination he has. He netted twice on his first starting appearance this season, and then netted again in the following match.

Warren Feeney, as mentioned previously is a Northern Ireland international, and a natural goalscorer has generally been the player to partner Howard up front, he has 7 goals from 28 appearances this season.

And then there's Enoch Showunmi.....well where do I start?! Enoch came to us during the 2003/04 season and only played for expenses during a time when the Club were not allowed to sign players without special permission from the league (due to all the takeover problems of the previous summer!). He was subbed before the end of the first half on his debut, (I'll let you draw your own conclusions!) but Mike Newell knew he was a player with raw talent that just needed some coaching and development.....and how right he was! By the end of the season Showunmi had gone from being a student and non-league player to Nigerian International!! He made 31 appearances, and scored 8 goals in that season and soon became a fans favourite, even with a website being set up in his honour! Showunmi scored a hat trick against Brentford in February 2004, twice running with the ball from the half way line before firing home! Most likely to start on the bench, but given the opportunity Enoch can certainly make defenders quake in their boots when he comes on. With pace, height, and at times some sublime ball skills Showunmi is capable of anything!

JG: We have a whole host of young players – as is always the case with Luton – the regular first-team squad members are Republic Of Ireland U-21 international Kevin Foley at right-back and central defender Leon Barnett, who is likely to play against you in the absence of the injured Chris Coyne. Dean Brill – once rumoured to be a Liverpool target – has played in goal on a few occasions, but he will more than likely to be on the bench.

DH: Kevin Foley. He plays right back and has come up through the Luton youth system. He is strong on the ball, gets forward well and is extremely level headed. Here is an article on him, written recently. Look out for him on Saturday.

Although not with us anymore I feel I must give a mention to Curtis Davies. He joined West Brom from us in August for a hefty £3m, he also came through the Luton youth system.


What are your thoughts on "El Liverpool" – Rafa has brought in some big Spanish signings such as Alonso, Garcia and Reina. Do you view his term so far as a success?

SP: I feel that any manager who wins the European Cup would hope that his term would be described as successful!

JG: You don’t win 10 on the bounce and moan! You’ve done very well and after winning the Champions League in his first season, you’re making excellent progress – as you should for a club as big as yours and with such a rich history.

DH: I've noticed this season especially that Liverpool have been far more consistent. I feel that due to some quality editions (Alonso, Garcia) and holding on to players such as Gerrard that Liverpool could maybe challenge for the title in a year or two. The success in the Champions league was a great achievement for the club and it's clear they have built on that this season in the Premiership. That's not to say I haven't been disappointed with some of their players. When Morientes joined I thought that he would be scoring regularly for Liverpool, from what I've seen he has not lived up to his form in the past. Benitez seems to be doing something right though and it looks as if he will have great success with the club in the future.


What's your best and worst Luton memory?

SP: To be honest I've several best memories! Winning the League Cup in 1988, beating Arsenal 3-2, was always the clear favourite, but having only seen the match on TV I would like to vote for last season as the best of the best! Reminding myself of how we ran away with the League One title brings back many happy memories. Earning promotion on a night when we weren't even playing, winning the Championship at Wrexham, and then enjoying the Open Top bus parade in Luton were just a few of the highlights. Some great games, some fantastic performances, and some incredible goals made for a very enjoyable season!

As for worst memories well again there are a few, the Gurney era as mentioned previously, along with relegation from the top flight in May 1992, as the "Premiership" kicked in the following season! Losing out in the play-offs in 1996/97 was also particularly disappointing, especially as we had seemed to be on course for automatic promotion.

JG: My best memory – winning the title last season – we were beating everyone both home and away and we ran out easy winners in the end.  Fantastic season.

The worst memory – losing 1-2 at Notts County on the final day of the 1991-92 season and suffering relegation from the top flight. The following season Sky came to prominence and with the money given to the clubs for TV fixtures, we may never have dropped like we did.  Who knows?

DH: I'm going for two very recent memories. My best is winning the League 1 title by such a margin last year. We destroyed the league and I loved every second of last season. The final home game against rivals Brentford was a particular highlight with three goals in the final six minutes, winning the game.

For my worst memory I'm going to go for today’s game against Watford! We haven't played our arch rivals in the league for so long, so the hype surrounding this game was massive. I don't particulay want to go into it to much but we played bad and we lost. Although there is more to it than that I don't want to dwell on it.


Most Liverpool fans won't be familiar with a trip to the Kenilworth Stadium. What can we expect? Are there any peculiar customs or chants we should be aware of?

SP: We're celebrating 100 years at Kenilworth Road this season, and despite all Luton fans wanting a nice new Stadium "The Kenny" has some real character and memories that you won't find elsewhere. Firstly please try to avoid looking into the next door houses, and particularly their bedroom windows, as you enter the Oak Road end......no seriously you do walk through a "house" to get in! Also should you be over the height of 5'5' I would suggest some form of knee protection, as you may find the seat in front a little too close for comfort!

As for chants, well you'll soon find out what Luton fan's think Tony Thorpe's mother does for a living. The general consenus of opinion is that Thorpe "jumped ship" to QPR at the beginning of the 2003/04 season just as the Club were recovering from the post-Gurney era. There will also be some anti W**f**d songs as well!!

JG: The ground is a dump!  Even Luton supporters will admit to that! I shouldn’t think you’ll visit a worse ground this season unless you beat us and get drawn away to Macclesfield or someone like that. Apart from Brighton, we probably have the worst ground in the Division. It could, however, work in our favour as the fans are very close to the pitch and the Liverpool players won’t be used to that. Most of our chants are aimed at Watford!

DH: Kenilworth Road is widely regarded as one of the worst grounds in the country. Which is absolutely correct. It's a complete dump. Away fans enter the ground by walking through someone’s back garden. There are many supporting pillars in the away stand blocking the view and there is no leg room what so ever. One of the few good things about the ground though is that the fans are right up close to the pitch which makes for an intimidating atmosphere for the visiting team especially if their players aren't used to it.


Any decent pie shops and away pubs near the ground that you could recommend?

SP: From the away end entrance walk up the hill, and then follow the ground round to your left. Go over the bridge and there is a fish and chip shop on the left. On the opposite side of the road to the chippy is an alleyway, go down here until the end and then you will see the "Bedfordshire Yeoman" pub on the right hand side. Both the chip shop and the pub are popular with home and away fans.

JG: For away fans, I would recommend The Bedfordshire Yeoman pub, which is located just behind the away in Dallow Lane (01582 730469). It is a large pub, modern outside but more traditional inside, with pleasant lounge area. However, as away fans, I would stay away from The Whitehouse, which is located in the Galaxy Centre. This is a home fans pub only and any Liverpool fans who go for a drink there won’t be welcomed too kindly by the home fans if you know what I mean!

Luton supporters highly recommend the takeaway 'Bluebird One' on the corner of Clifton Road and Wimborne Road.  The chips are truly excellent. The nearby Dunstable Road is choc-a-bloc with takeaways, including a 'KFC'. There is also a 'Burger King' and a 'MacDonalds' in the Arndale Centre in the town centre.


Where do you expect Luton to finish in the Championship? Do you think Liverpool will challenge Chelsea for the Premiership?

SP: I would hope that despite recent results the dream of a play off place is still a reality. As for Liverpool, in short no, chelsea have the title wrapped! Second place is the best you can hope for, and even that will be a tough challenge, although given recent form I'm sure you're all hopeful of beating that other team in red to the runners-up spot!

JG: As stated previously, I think we’ll finish about mid-table, but I hope I am wrong and we reach the play-offs. As for Liverpool, I think Chelsea are too far away now and too consistent to be caught, but I certainly think you’re capable of finishing second and I hope you do.

DH: I am expecting a top half finish for the town, with a view to a play-off spot. I know we are capable of achieving that. For Liverpool I cannot see any team in the Premiership challenging Chelsea this season as I think they are just too strong and have a lead to great. Next season I think that maybe Liverpool could challenge for the title.


Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

SP: Not sure that "fear" is the right word, as I don't believe any player should be feared, but more so "admired" for their football talent. No team should fear their opposition, but instead look forward to the opportunity of playing against the quality "household name" players. I'm sure that Kevin Nicholls (our tough tackling captain) will be particularly looking forward to the challenge of facing Steven Gerrard! Peter Crouch is on good form at the moment and his height will certainly be a threat from set pieces etc.

JG: If he plays (not sure what kind of side you’ll put out?) – Steven Gerrard – he is a quality player and can hurt teams not just with his passing ability, but also with his shooting. Great player and let’s hope he helps England win the World Cup this summer!

DH: The usual suspects, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia. That's if they play of course. I haven't a clue what type of side Liverpool will put out, it will be interesting to see.


What line-up do you think you will you put out?

SP: I would expect to see:
GK Marlon Beresford
LB Paul Underwood
CB Marcus Heikkinen
CB Chris Coyne (or Leon Barnett if the Coyne doesn't recover from injury)
RB Kevin Foley
LM Ahmet Brkovic
CM Steve Robinson
CM Kevin Nicholls (capt)
RM Carlos Edwards
ST Steve Howard
ST Warren Feeney

JG: We’ll play our full-strength side without a shadow of a doubt. We have injury doubts over Chris Coyne and Rowan Vine and Sol Davis has been out injured for a while. Assuming they all miss the match, I would expect the side to be:
GK Marlon Beresford
LB Paul Underwood
CB Leon Barnett
CB Markus Heikkinen
RB Kevin Foley
LM Ahmet Brkovic
CM Steve Robinson
CM Kevin Nicholls
RM Carlos Edwards
CF Steve Howard
CF Warren Feeney

DH: The following is my predicted line up:
GK: Marlon Beresford
LB: Paul Underwood
CB: Chris Coyne
CB: Markus Heikkenen
RB: Kevin Foley
LM: Ahmet Brkovic
CM: Steve Robinson
CM: Kevin Nicholls
RM: Carlos Edwards
ST: Rowan Vine/Warren Feeney
ST: Steve Howard


Finally, want to embarrass yourself with a prediction?

SP: I'd never want to embarrass myself, but I'll go with the prediction that you will be surprised at the attractive football we play. You will also find in Kenilworth Road a stadium nothing like those in the Premiership, which will certainly work to our advantage. Not sure how serious Liverpool will take the match as far as team selection is concerned, but whatever the result I'm predicting a good game of football which the neutrals watching on TV will enjoy. As for the scoreline......a close game with few goals, and the FA Cup does throw up some surprises.........

JG: 1-0 to Luton! I have to hope otherwise what’s the point!

DH: Given our terrible display against Watford I'm hoping that the players will be trying to make up for it on Saturday. It's a huge game for them and given that there is a possibility that Liverpool may rest some players. I'm going to go for a score draw

So, thanks to Statto, James and Dave for their time in contributing to this Spyin’ Kop. I love the way James gave us the number for the local away boozer - I'm sure that's a Spyin' Kop first! I was also interested that all three picked almost identical teams. I’m off to email a link of this article to Rafa.

© Millsee 2006

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