Luton Town are a former top-level club who are now completely screwed.
The 1980s: Trophies, Escapology, Shitty Old PitchEdit
For most of their history, Luton were a minor club, mostly known for their occasional mentions on national television, courtesy of celebrity fan and comedy legend Eric Morecambe. It was the biggest comic endorsement of a lower-league team since Laurel and Hardy made their little-remembered box-office flop A Spot Of Bother At Wrexham v Southend.
In the eighties, however, Luton briefly became famous, surviving for some time in Division One (now the Premier League) and entertaining the football world with a series of eccentricities.
Improbable Escapes - For most of the decade Luton were conspicuously not quite good enough to be in the top division, but every year they evaded relegation on the last day of the season. In 1983-4, after a last-gasp escape from the drop, manager David Pleat embarked on a funny run across Manchester City's pitch. He kept stopping and tripping over his beige suit (in this era managers often wore suits to watch games, even though it was manifestly inappropriate attire for a football match). Pleat would go on to manage Luton for a second spell, and also become a strange TV pundit, noted for his over-reliance on adjectives and a tendency to speak as if reporting for a newspaper, e.g. ‘Crouch heading the ball there… impressive stuff from the lanky goal-grabber’.
- Main article: Plastic Pitches
- Luton became the second team to install a plastic pitch. This was a major factor in their mid-to-late-eighties purple patch, as plastic pitches were nearly impossible for away teams to play on. In 1986-7 Luton won all their home games 18-0 and lost all their away games by similar scores, but club officials still insisted that the artificial surface was ‘very much like playing on grass’.
Away Ban - After hooliganism following a match with Millwall, Luton directors took the unprecedented step of banning away fans from their Kenilworth Road ground. This was a knee-jerk reaction: it would have been more sensible simply to ban Millwall fans, noted for being the scum of the earth. Then-Luton Chairman David Evans explained: ‘Away fans coming here for a fight are giving Luton a bad name. And that takes some doing, because let’s be honest, Luton is a horrible shithole of a satellite town’. The ban was lifted by the end of the eighties, and less than twenty years later, Luton had fallen so far that they were positively begging away fans to come: in 2008-9, Macclesfield fans who made the long trip from Cheshire were each given £75 in Marks and Spencer vouchers.
League Cup Glory - Luton won the League Cup in 1986-7, when it was still highly prestigious rather than the pointless competition it would become. They trailed Arsenal 2-1 with ten minutes to go, but came back to win 3-2, partly thanks to a penalty save from unknown goalkeeper Andy Dibble. Dibble would go on to be famous for conceding a farcical goal when a ball was headed out of his hand, and the League Cup would go on to be famous for everyone hating it.
1990- Present: MeltdownEdit
Financial mismanagement on a scale only previously seen in Peter Ridsdale’s clubs blighted Luton, and combined with the fact that Luton was no place for anyone to live, let alone watch top-flight football, contributed to their slide down the leagues. They enjoyed brief revivals from time to time, notably under Mike Newell when they won the 2002-3 League One title. But Newell left under a cloud after exposing corruption within the club, and went on to direct films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral.
The club reached a new low ebb in 2008-9 when they became the victim of a campaign of hatred by the FA and Football League. Having gone into liquidation, Luton were fined ten points by means of a shitty new rule designed to heap misery on clubs who are already on the brink of extinction. Then incredibly, because of some insane technicality, they were docked another twenty points, leaving them to start the season with the absurd tally of -30, which made League survival impossible from day one. They began the year so far adrift that when printing league tables, newspapers would leave a space at the bottom of League Two, and then write ‘Luton’ on the next page.
Other punishments meted out to Luton included: - Club’s nickname changed from ‘The Hatters’ to ‘The Accursed Ones’
- At least three Luton players to be blindfolded in every game
- When travelling to away games, Luton’s coach driver not allowed to use sat-nav
- Luton not to be awarded corners
-Flights from Luton Airport not to be given permission to land at any airport in France or Spain
-FA officials to boo when Luton’s name comes up in FA Cup draw
-Luton fans not allowed to own cars or vote in General Elections
Luton were duly relegated to the Conference, and a party was held at the FA’s Soho Square headquarters to celebrate. Despite all this the besieged club were able to fight back by winning the Football League Trophy, the cup for bad teams, at Wembley. One club official predicted that the success would spell ‘a brand new era’, but then admitted that it would ‘probably be another fairly shit era’.
As of May 2009, League officials were discussing a proposal to deduct Luton a thousand points for the 09-10 season.