Still on SaturdayFor the second successive away fixture the definition of what constitutes ‘derby’ to Town fans is called into question.
A fortnight after over 2,000 Hatters fans made the short trip to witness the 1-0 win at Cambridge United, similar, magnificent, numbers will make an even shorter pilgrimage across to Stevenage on Saturday.
But while the League 2 fixture against Graham Westley’s Boro will not have the focus of a Luton versus Watford game, the regional rivalry and close proximity of the two towns is certain to generate plenty of excitement and interest.
Not least for John Still himself, who takes charge of his first Luton v Stevenage encounter against a regular advisory in Westley, when the two locked horns during Still’s Dagenham days.
“I think they’re great games,” said the manager at his Thursday press briefing. “For clubs at our level they’re still local derbies, a lot of them.
“The higher you go they’re more local derbies for supporters. You could talk to people that play for Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham or Liverpool and Everton and half of them, if they played for Liverpool, wouldn’t know where Everton was and vice versa, because players come from all over the world now.
“This, for us, is a local derby. We are fortunate that we played a local derby, if you like, against Cambridge. I think there was something on that and I think that’s fantastic.
“They’re the games you want to be involved in. Local derbies are big games and I’m sure it will be keenly contested on the pitch and a keenly contested opponent off the pitch. I’m sure it’s going to be good.”
The Town and Stevenage meet for the first time at Broadhall Way, or the Lamex Stadium as it is known these days, since a Matthew Barnes-Homer winner gave the Hatters a 1-0 victory in April 2010.
Boro had Ronnie Henry and Andy Drury in their ranks that afternoon, a pair who would both pick up Conference winners’ medals following Boro’s title success two weeks later.
Fast four forward years and Henry is back at his second spell with Stevenage after earning another title with the Town last term, whilst Drury returns to Stevenage with the Hatters for what is his second time with the Town.
There is plenty of sentiment in football, but once the players cross the white line, those friendships soon go out the window.
“Ronnie did great here and I was sad that we couldn’t tie something up to keep him here, but football’s football,” continued Still
"We want to win, Ron will want to win, but before and after we’ll all have fond memories of what was achieved together.”
“It’ll be nice to see Ron,” added striker Paul Benson. “I’ve got a lot of time for him, and he did fantastic for us…but I hope he’s on the losing team.”
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