Transport to game.
Pick up Ronnie and Bob from the usual lay-by on the Gloucester Road at 2 p.m. Offer of several alternative and we decide on the country route avoiding the M 25 / M1 traffic.
Try the Hope Pole at Aylesbury, then on to Dunstable before a park up and last pint near the ground.
Time took its part in delaying us so the latter became a park up and set out for the ground. Parked off the Dunstable Road.
The Hope Pole in Aylesbury
This is not an obvious stop off point before a game. We were given a tour of the shop and brewery at the rear of the pub. It is the home of the A.B.C. microbrewery. The chap behind the bar was very keen and helpful but had little knowledge of the historical importance of that brewery name. The pub had 8 handpumps with many local options. In time we were joined by a few regulars at the bar and the conversation ranged from local cricket through the best route to get to the game and ex schoolboy friends of the barman (Jamie Clarke) playing for the Gas. The merited a 7/10 rating from Ron, a complimentary score.
The Victoria in Dunstable
This is a good pre match pub if you are travelling by car and want somewhere a bit quieter. The pub had its usual tea time crowd, has a heavy golf club emphasis in the “what is going on here then” question list. We settled for local beers from a limited selection. It boasts of 6 times winning the local CAMRA award. The telling bit is that the last was in 2005. It was as pleasant enough stop, but nothing to merit a high score.
Luton 0 Bristol Rovers 1 Attendance 8061 (553 Gas)
Entertainment Value 4
For the second game on the trot Rovers deservedly won. They dictated the pace and made Luton look very ordinary. This time the goal couldn’t have been later. Mark had already shaken hands and made his way to the exit. When will he ever learn? Schoolboy error or what? As a free kick was taken deep in our half the conversation from the lads in front went as follows:
Chap 1: “that’s it”
Chap 2: “Three minutes of extra time gone, one to go”
Chap 1: “Great pass” (Taylor to Sinclair)
Chap 1: “Stick it in”
The Beard scores
Everyone went mental and the team played out the final minute as a background to our party.
Man of the Match:
James Clarke: He did a real job on several different forwards who swapped positions throughout the game. Looks genuinely quicker than his other defensive colleagues.
We were pretty noisy but well behaved throughout. This was amazing given the conditions endured sitting in the Oak Road Stand. I am 6ft 5” tall but I have short legs for my height (Measured this morning for the purpose of this article at 25 inches from knee to back). The space allocated as legroom i.e. between back of seat and back on seat in front is 22” It is impossible to sit square to the row and sit in the seat. 25 inches into 22 inches just cannot work. If this sounds like a gripe, it is. What is surprising is that this is the same as it has always been. Has nobody in the Luton Boardroom noticed this basic flaws in the “customer/ product interface?” They cannot because amazingly half the stand is allocated to home fans who choose to put up with this every week. What is even more amazing is that the Rovers fans left the standing bit to corners, direct attacks on goal and the end of game disco. I can’t imagine our friends across town were so accommodating when they were 3-1 down just a week ago. It would have been perfectly understandable if everyone stood up throughout. Antisocial yes, but comfortable rather than skin wearing uncomfortable.
The elegance of a tall supporter at Luton. Try sitting like this for 94 minutes and not gripe.
Curry Pie 0
Tea / Bovril 1
Add-ons 1 (only one alternative, a £4 burger had free plastic cheese)