The nerves are taut, the bums are squeaky and the stomachs are clogged with butterflies. And that’s just us fans. What the hell are the players like?
Saturday’s play-off final in Manchester is being trumpeted as the biggest game in our history, which, at the risk of being called pedantic, I would slightly disagree with. I would suggest it’s not the BIGGEST, but it is quite possibly the most IMPORTANT. You have to say the 1959 FA Cup final and 1988 Littlewoods final were bigger, although even they didn’t have the power to decide the short and medium-term future of the Hatters – which Saturday’s game certainly does.
To my mind, this is the most significant game since the final fixture of 1991-2, when we had to get a win at Notts County to stay in the top flight and become part of the land of fat wallets and dancing girls that is the Premier League. A miserable second-half performance at Meadow Lane did for us that day, and we were unable to repeat our great escapes, both against Derby, of the two preceding years.
If we win this weekend, I suspect the celebrations will be longer, louder and more jubilant than on any other occasion in our club’s 126-year lifetime. The relief at getting out of non-League football would be like Chernobyl blowing its top. And some.
There are not too many other Luton fans living in my neck of the woods, so I’m not seeing the white faces, shaky hands or furrowed brows at first hand, but judging by the messageboards, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of it, there is one hell of a lot of stress and suppressed excitement around this week.
It’s a shame that AFCW and ourselves can’t both go up, for both are surely far better than the likes of Barnet et al, who marginally survived demotion last week. These days the gap between League 2 and the top half of the BSP is narrower than the leg room in the Oak Road stand.
I have just received an e-mail from the See Ticket agency, promising that, after a regrettable delay, my tickets are on the way and will arrive “in 2-3 days” (even though I stumped up the cash for special/recorded delivery). I trust they don’t really mean that? Three days? That would mean they’d arrive late on Friday, about 15 hours before I set off for Manchester. If that happens the panic button may well have been pressed already.
In the mean time, I promise to let Mosque Blog readers know as soon as my pre-match premonition visits me. Before both legs of the semi-final against Wrexham, I had one of these visions, and both proved correct. On the morning of the away game I declared that Alex Lawless would score, and all would go well, and before the second leg I announced that Jason Walker would net and that we would win. Both were spot on, although sadly I can’t prove anything, as I kept them largely to myself.
Mind you, in an interview with Justin on BBC 3CR, which took place 35 minutes BEFORE the second leg, I told him and the listeners that the only cause we had for worry would be if our visitors bagged an early goal, and then got awarded a lucky disputed penalty. Both things duly happened and worry we did! For a while, anyway.
Now, hang on a sec, just before I go, something is coming through the ether. It’s all a bit hazy and I can’t quite make out too much detail, but three small figures in orange are involved and they are smiling broadly. It looks very much like Howells, Keane and Walker. Those are the three most prominent faces. I don’t know quite what this means, but they look very happy. You read it here first!