Writing on the wall: the Thundercliffe files

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

17 March 2021

iFollowed out, Paul has reached the acceptance stage on this season. Perhaps we need to go one step back to take two steps forward

Sunday 15 May 2016.


North London.

The outpouring of joy. The unadulterated relief. The crying and absolute pure emotion. There has never been a moment like it in my football-following life. When Nathan Arnold calmly steered us back into the Football League a community was restored. All the anguish, all the mistakes could be forgotten. Never to be repeated.

Five years and over 200 turgid games of football later and we are almost back where we started. I vividly remember Gary Sweet, Luton's CEO saying that his club had "learned lessons" from their stay in the fifth division and had used it as a chance to regroup. To reassess and rebuild.

Luton now sit 13th in the second flight.

The writing was on the wall when the new season tickets eventually arrived before the start of 2016-17. The previous pack had offers and discounts and value for money attached to it - your loyalty was being rewarded. That first year back saw a price increase and no vouchers. It was as if the past six years hadn't even happened.

We've laboured and languished, hoped for the best. We've signed too many players and not enough footballers. We've had no identity, no humility

Town have had as many full time managers since that Nathan Arnold goal as wins this season - six. Omar Bogle has scored almost nine per cent of all our goals despite only playing half a season. I can count on one hand the number of genuinely exciting games: Stevenage the first season back probably being the best.

We've laboured and languished, hoped for the best. We've signed too many players and not enough footballers. We've had no identity, no humility.

The current regime and lack of ideas, intellect and identity have been well documented. Next year in the conference with a new board should - should - be the makings of something special. One step back to go two steps forward.

I'm at the acceptance stage of the grieving process. I genuinely don't care what division I watch my football in next year. I've missed it too much. The sights and sounds, the smell of the turf and the beat of my pulse. 3,000 of us against Kings Lynn? Bring it on.

I'm totally iFollowed out. My eyes and ears can't take the dodgy camerawork and made-up statistics any more. I want to be back at the park, shouting and singing and smiling and laughing and cursing and standing and pointing and putting my head in my hands. I miss that in particular.

Non-League football is not without its benefits: some great away days; good media coverage; being the big team people want to beat; a winning mentality. Town's win rate back in the Football League is 31 per cent. In the conference it was 46 per cent. The last four play-off seasons it was exactly 50 per cent.

To put it another way we won 123 non-League games. We are currently waiting for win 65 since our return.

It's been poor. The lacklustre football, the unimaginative approach to the game, the lack of preparation, particularly this year has done the very thing it was possibly trying to prevent. It's time to stop doing what we've always done and treat the football club, its community, its history with some respect.

So winning football. New owners. Surely a brighter future.