FAN'S EYE VIEW : That I elected instead to lend my vocal support to the terraces of Kenilworth Road showed early and unsettling signs of perversity

No 131 Luton Town
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The Independent Online
As a Jewish kid reared in the north London suburb of Hendon, the options for the rookie football fan were simple - Stamford Bridge (quite Jewish), Highbury (very Jewish), or White Hart Lane (a veritable synagogue on match day).

That I elected instead to lend my vocal support to the terraces of Kenilworth Road showed early and unsettling signs of perversity, and perhaps gave a clue to the years of therapy that were to follow.

In short, I wanted to be different and, let's face it, when you're growing up in the ghettos north of Golders Green Road, Luton is about as different as you can get.

If the truth be told, and tell me if this is not perversity itself in a town where Vauxhall looms larger than God, Luton are probably the most Jewish club of the lot, the Red Sea of Kenilworth Road parting at various times to engulf a Jewish chairman, Jewish manager, and that most exotic of species, a Jewish player - respectively David Kohler, David Pleat, and the much travelled and largely forgotten Barry Silkman, journeyman ball-juggler who graced our midfield for a few brief games between spells at nine other clubs, including Crystal Palace and Manchester City.

Silkman was a contemporary of Kevin Keegan with, arguably, less natural ability than the great man, but an infinitely better perm. Legend has it that, on asking his hairdresser for highlights, Silkman was shown an action replay of his last haircut.

Kohler's main claim to fame, apart from the wherewithal to win any number of Rodney Bewes lookalike competitions, is his obsession with what he calls his Kohlerdome, an all-singing, all-dancing, all-purpose arena replete with moveable pitch and retractable roof, at a cost that could fund 10 decades of French nuclear testing in the south Pacific.

You would think this was the dream of a man at the helm of a wealthy club. You would be wrong. For Kohler's policy as regards players seems to be: "Can he kick with both feet? Yes? Right, sell him, we need the money!" Phil Gray, Paul Telfer, Iain Dowie, Mick Harford and John Hartson are just some of the Luton alumni currently finding the net in higher echelons. The result? We are left with a team in which my late grandmother, aided only by her frame and a few puffs of Ventalin, would not look out of place.

How I ache for days of yore. Not the pre-war nostalgia of Joe Payne, 10 goals in one game against Bristol Rovers, a League record that stands to this very day and may never be bettered in these days of twin centre- backs and goalless draws.

Nor the decade of my birth, when the Bingham-Baynham-Owen team of 1959 took us to the FA Cup final, only to lose to the 10 men of Nottingham Forest. (11 men we can beat, but 10 we can't. Our spare player gets confused by the extra space and falls down quite a lot).

No. What I hanker after is a deal more recent. The team of 1987/88, the team of nine internationals, fashioned by Pleat, inherited by Ray Harford, and managed once again by the Jewish boy whose manic Irish jig on defeating Manchester City with the last kick of the 1982/83 season to preserve our top-flight status was a sight never to be forgotten and still much beloved by television pundits and video playback fans.

Hang it all, the team that came from 2-1 down with minutes left to defeat the might of Arsenal and lift the League Cup (or whatever they called it then) not eight years ago. Glory days, when capacity crowds would grace the Nissen hut that masquerades as our stadium. How different today when the one policeman that patrols outside the ground does so for the sole purpose of throwing people in.

But Luton are my team, handed down by God on Mount Sinai, and they'll be my team until death, or a particularly lucrative takeover bid, do us part.

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