Congratulations to Luton for grabbing the headlines on 4th Round weekend. Particularly those that declared that they “made history” by becoming the first club from outside the Football League to beat a Premier League side. Or, if you prefer your history to take into account events prior to 1992, the first to defeat top flight opposition for slightly longer.
So well done the Hatters and those of us in the Midlands TV region await the sight of Nick Owen on tomorrow’s local news, looking less inanimate than usual and maybe even sporting a Luton scarf for a comedy handover to the weathergirl.
But (and you knew there was one coming) this isn’t a non League giantkilling to echo down the years. It may not even echo to next weekend. Luton may be technically non League at the moment, but they're only on temporary loan - even if they do have a habit of renewing the loan. It's only about 6 years since they were visiting Norwich on level terms, and may do again within another 6. It’s still hard to remember that Luton aren’t tucked away somewhere in the middle divisions, or even taking points off Liverpool on that plastic pitch. They're not really non League any more than Dagenham & Redbridge are really a League club.
Also, I saw the highlights of the Norwich game and to my mind it was missing several classic Cup ingredients:
1. played on a mudheap
2. victory by a motley bunch of part timers who would never be seen again
3. an eccentric character or two
4. a memorable goal
5. (optional) invasion by hundreds of kids wearing brown parkas with furry hoods
Hereford v Newcastle had them all, if you count young Motson squawking up on the gantry and Ronnie Radford’s rocket. Sutton v Coventry had the first four – 3 being a manager who quoted Kipling and in the process gave Barry Davies half a bar, and 4 being not so much the goal as Matt Hanlan’s angry celebration, which involved so much obvious swearing it still can’t be shown before the watershed.
We won’t mention that Sutton’s reward was a trip to, yes, Norwich, where they were duly given a huge beating. Or that, the same day, another non League team also enjoying its first taste of the Fourth Round lost just by the odd goal at another top division ground. Or that the fans of that club were pretty cheesed off at Sutton still getting all the credit. Or that they still chunter about it 24 years later.
Instead we’ll insert a random pic from the Patgod archives showing another occasion when a non League club took on Premier League opposition, this time on its own patch.
Sadly not a taste of things to come