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Non-League Rich - Luton fans disgraced the play-offs
Non-League news hit the back pages of national rags last week after Luton Town 'fans' rioted following their exit from the Blue Square Premier play-offs at Kenilworth Road on Bank Holiday Monday.
Having deservedly secured a 2-0 aggregate semi-final victory, York City players were forced into the Oak Road End beside their own supporters as a mass pitch invasion had prevented them from being able to reach the tunnel.
As the police attempted to escort the squad along the back and down to the side of the visitors stand, objects were launched in the direction of the players, with Blue Square Premier top scorer Richard Brodie struck on the head by a coin.
It has been reported that a number incidents involving Luton fans took place outside the stadium, including attacks on the police with mops and brooms, while it has been confirmed that a total of seven arrests were made.
Unlike a number of hooliganism occurrences, it wasn't a case in which one set of supporters goaded the other, or a two-way battle between rival firms that sparked off the violent scenes witnessed.
This all stemmed from the fact Luton supporters assumed they would breeze past The Minstermen through to the last two at Wembley, beat whoever emerged victorious in the other semi-final and reclaim their Football League status. They couldn’t accept defeat.
Instead, it is York that will now meet Oxford United, who defeated Rushden & Diamonds 3-1 over two legs, in the Blue Square Premier play-off final tomorrow.
Conference football, and the Non-League game generally, has always had a reputation for being highly competitive yet friendly, a standing which has been put into disrepute following the appalling antics witnessed in Bedfordshire.
Sadly for Luton, they are in the Blue Square Premier for a reason, and now another season, whether the club's supporters believe themselves to be bigger than this standard of football or not.
The Hatters never had a divine right to ensure a return to League Two at the first attempt.
That mentality will have been shed after the disappointment of falling short in the lottery of the play-offs, leaving it down to manager Richard Money to keep the talented squad of players he has together as they push for automatic promotion next year.
- Richard Bates
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