Luton vs Forest Green Rovers. What a great game.
You might think that this was a twisted way of introducing Rachel and Zack to the world of live football - this wasn't even League Football for heavens sake - but I think it's fair to say that all that is live footy was represented there. We had uncomfortable seating, people who stood up in front of you at moments of high drama (actually, there weren't too many of those), and full (and voluble) abuse of the referee. It also had the added advantage over, say, a Premier League fixture of being cheap.
What was absent was much by way of bad language. On our departure from home, Hannah warned Rachel and Zack that they might overhear words that it would be best not to repeat. But there was hardly any. My impression was that the general absence of profanity was mostly down to people moderating their language in the presence of two youngsters. Forest Green Rovers' ground could be described as somewhat intimate and few in the away fans' end could have missed the arrival of Rachel and Zack bobbing behind me as we hunted for a seat.
All of that did not prevent the cascade of abuse poured forth at the referee during the game. The visceral anger of some supporters against this poor fellow from Shropshire was almost grotesque. I can't say if Rachel and Zack picked up much on this, but I think I would have preferred some light-hearted swearing and cursing over the (admittedly clean-mouthed) virulent hatred directed at the man.
And so Luton thrashed Forest Green 1-0 in a display of boot-it-around-midfield-for-few-minutes-and-see-what-happens football. Classy it was not. Dramatic? Well, not really, excepting Luton's missed penalty. Boring? Well, Zack was fidgeting quite a bit towards the end of the first half, but saw things through to the end with a smile on his face (possibly enhancing his enjoyment of the spectacle with a half-time portion of chips).
In advance of the game, Rachel and Zack had painted some banners to be waved at moments of emotional intensity. In the days preceding the game I had been quizzed by Zack on multiple occasions as to the team colours of Luton Town FC (that'll be orange, white and blue, livery lovers). And so, on the day of the game, they got out their paint brushes (and a little glitter) and painted 'Go Hatters!' and 'Go Luton' signs. In green and yellow.
Well, as Rachel pointed out, the Luton keeper was wearing a green shirt so they weren't too far out. And so I happily waved mine with vigour as Luton popped in their winning goal, the only man in the stadium clutching their child's home made banner. It was marvellous.