Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Millers See Off Hatters

Some people might find it quite strange but I've always enjoyed my trips to Luton - true, the town itself is not very inspiring (he says diplomatically) but from a DAFTS perspective it has a couple of very decent pubs and a nice cosy ground in Kenilworth Road.

Having been there earlier in the season for our 2-1 win, I took the opportunity for another visit by joining the London Millers for their game there. Unless there is some sort of miracle this will be our last chance as they'll be playing in the Conference next season and who knows if they can get out of that?

I was the first one into town as I fully intended to visit the English Rose (left) which we never got round to trying in October. It's just a five minute walk from the station and is thankfully one of those pubs that stays open all afternoon.

It had a decent choice of beers - Hadrian & Border's Secret Kingdom, Exe Valley Devon Heaven (brewed to celebrate over one thousand years of Christian community work in Devon, don't you know!), Milestone's Maid Marian and what looks to be a regular, Brakspear Bitter.

I managed to try the first three - all good but nothing outstanding - before it was time to meet Liz at the Bricklayers Arms - a long-standing DAFTS favourite. Can't keep her waiting...

This pub has always been a Luton Town stronghold but one which has always remained away-fan friendly - tonight it seemed to be getting in full swing for Luton's forthcoming visit to Wembley to play Scunthorpe in the Johnstone's Paint Pot Trophy - t-shirts were being sold and there was even a beer, Wembley Wobble from Banks & Taylor, on sale in addition to the two Everards regulars (Beacon and Tiger) and a couple of other guests.

One of these guests was Little Miss Muffet from the Tring Brewery - a 4.5% light-coloured ale, very refreshing - and I stuck to this rather than play the field.

For once the pub was just nicely busy without being the usual jam-packed place it is on a Saturday - Luton fan and comic-poet John Hegley was in residence - I've been to see him a few times over the years and he has the dry, laconic wit worthy of a lower division football fan. If you ever get the chance, go see him.

(right) Bricklayers Arms earlier in the season

As time progressed various other London Millers joined us and soon it was time to go to the game.

Unlike most Darlo fans who had to pay £22 on the day, the London Millers had been forewarned and £20 advance tickets had been purchased - the game had kicked off as we made our way to our seats behind the goal and Liz went to put out the LM flag.

I know there's not much leg room in the away end and some of the columns get in the way but it makes a nice change to be really close to the action - the type of thing I miss from my seat up in the heady heights of block 11.

Luton did most of the attacking with the Millers keeping a tight-ish line and it was quite a surprise to most in the ground when they were 2-0 after about 35 mins. Cue some cocky chants of "Rotherham Reject" and more to Luton manager Mick Hardford - typically this sort of thing backfires on you and so it was as Luton pulled one back before the break - that'll learn 'em not to tempt fate.

However the highlight of the first half was the appearance of a bat who spent about 20 minutes hunting over the pitch under the full glare of the floodlights - fascinating stuff to watch (or maybe you had to be there to appreciate it).

The second half was more of the same - Luton applying the pressure but not making it tell whilst Rotherham scored two more, more or less on the break, and in the end won 4-2.

That's 11 goals I've seen Luton concede in three matches this season - and to be fair they've not been that bad - at least they like to attack which, in their position, I suppose they have to.

Once Liz had retrieved the flag we rushed back to the station and managed to catch a fast train back to St Pancras and time for a final pint of Betjeman Ale at the Betjeman Arms. Just a pity it's back to work tomorrow as I know I'll regret it in the morning...

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