Catching the 'Bug'
This article featured in the official Luton Town matchday programme for the game against Harrogate Town (9/1/22), in the 'Dylan's Diary' column.
A month ago, my family brought our two young nephews, aged 8 and 9, to Kenilworth Road for the first time as the Hatters played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Fulham. They left the game donning their new woolly hats from the club shop and with smiles that reflected the joy of experiencing 90 minutes of football at our unique home.
My dad said it brought back memories of the first time that he took me to Kenilworth Road 14 years ago - the obliviousness of being that age, oblivious of the club’s perilous ownership situation at the time, of what analysis, tactics and formations were and any sense of league tables, promotions, and relegations.
In a non-footballing sense, at that age you don’t quite grasp the dynamics and meaning behind what’s happening around you. Every new experience is a mystery to be uncovered.
What is it then that made my nephews leave the game with the warm feeling of joy? Because it’s not the story of Luton Town that brought that feeling, unlike perhaps for us fans who have watched the Hatters throughout this season and for several years.
It’s not the thrill of seeing the game in the context of the recruitment of this young, hungry, and athletic group of players, or the relative closeness of the promised land of Premier League football, or the deep and meaningful history that the club and its home embodies. My nephews have no understanding of what any of that is or means.
Strip all your understanding and experience back of the memories, successes, failures and what you know about any players, managers, or context and what do you get? A feeling.
A feeling of walking into a football stadium and knowing that this is a place for you. A feeling of excitement and attachment with what is going on around you. A feeling of belonging, of togetherness.
Much of this you can’t truly put your finger on or understand at the time – it all gathers up into one big knot within you and it takes strong reflection to untangle and understand the different things within that feeling. But that process of untangling isn’t important because the knot itself is something strong in itself.
My nephews are too young to go about that process of untangling and understanding. But that’s the point – they walked away from Kenilworth Road last month with a multitude of feelings that combined to create something good.
That is what Kenilworth Road and Luton Town does. It did it to me 14 years ago, it’s done it to you, and it did it to my nephews two weeks ago. When you strip it all back, supporting this club really is just about that raw emotion – the ‘bug’ it’s sometimes called.
That feeling is one that is unique to this club, and we as fans can continue to create and sustain it for future generations.