Wednesday 9th May 2018 ko 19.45
United Counties League Division One
LUTTERWORTH ATHLETIC 2 (Hobert 20 Pegg 66p)
STEWARTS & LLOYDS 1 (Mpofu 88)
Half the fun of this one was working out exactly who Robyn and I would be watching! In the beginning there was Lutterworth Town and Lutterworth Athletic with one playing the centre of town the other on the edge. Then one left, the other moved into the other’s former ground, and the first moved into other’s an out-of-town location. I’d seen Lutterworth at the in-town location back in the day but in the day’s leading up to this day the mechanics of football in Lutterworth did take a little working out!
In 2005 Lutterworth Athletic moved to the centrally placed Dunley Way and began to improve the ground. At the out-of-town Hall Park rivals Lutterworth Town plied their trade in the Leicestershire Senior League. Now I suspect that the two clubs would have happily ploughed their separate furrows but as ever ground grading regulations got in the way.
Athletic needed floodlights to progress, managed to install them, but the town planners forbade them from using them. So in 2011 they vacated Dunley Way taking the lights with them, displacing Town in the process. Town played one season at a ground in Coventry Road, before moving to Athletic’s old ground in Dunley Way. In an act of supreme irony they managed to both install and use floodlights in 2017, securing their United Counties League place.
Hall Park reminded me of the all-sports facilities I tend to see abroad. The facility is a self-styled “Soccer Centre” and Athletic are clearly the anchor tenant but the feel is less non-league football ground, and more leisure centre. Despite this the club have managed to make the place feel like home, and have improved the place not least with equipment salvaged from Nene Park, the now demolished former home of the defunct Rushden & Diamonds
The evening was the classic end of season dead rubber. There was no programme it seemed due to lack of interest more than anything else. That feeling was especially true for Stewarts & Lloyds, the famous steel name from Corby propping up their UCL with just two wins all season, and destined for relegation. Their side looked young, committed and enthusiastic but against what looked like a scratch Athletic side still slipped to yet another defeat. The end of the season must have been a blessed release for them.
But for all of what the evening wasn’t, it was enjoyable. The tie attracted a few hoppers who were as good company as the club were themselves. In the end if was clear, What Lutterworth Athletic now call home is a fine facility and with more work could easily sustain football at a higher level, the question is how their friendly band of volunteers can build towards that ambition.