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Spare a thought for Luton Town
By Matt Rowson
Experiencing the shallow times is all part of being a football fan. Indeed, it could be argued that one needs to experience the shallow times to truly appreciate the good times (pity, then, the Manchester United freeloaders...they don't know what they're missing! Maybe.).

Having finally come down from the two-week adrenaline surge inspired by May 2nd, I have managed to bleed yet further euphoria out of the season by reflecting on the years of dearth, and also by sparing a thought for those unfortunates currently waiting for the better times to arrive.

To reflect all the way back to GT's departure is perhaps over-romanticising the thing a bit. Whilst the following season was a year so black that I have no wish to cast my mind back to it, the subsequent (albeit failed) promotion campaign was hardly a "low", and the dismissal of Champions Leeds United, Eric'n'all, from the League Cup a couple of years on a very special moment.

So I'll start in 1993-94. Relegation was only averted by a run of five wins in the last seven games, including an unlikely victory at champions Yoyo Palarse. The emergence of Bruce Dyer was cause for optimism.... until he was sold in March. Perry Digweed was first choice keeper, Ulsterman Alan McCarthy played a few games on loan at left back. Gerard Lavin played in every game, and Ken Charlery played 18 times. Still, at least we sold Roger Willis.

1994-95. The promotion push. Sort of. Good signs anyway... but for every Kevin Miller and Kevin Phillips there was a Gary Fitzgerald or Jamie Moralee. This, too, was the season of ("who ate") Mickey Quinn, in a desperate search for the goals which eventually put pay to the flattering bid for the play-offs. We scored less than the relegated Swindon Town and only a couple more than the equally downwardly mobile Burnley. The peak of the excitement was a 6-3 defeat.

1995-96. Maybe you'll remember Taylor's return and the ambitious rush of goals which didn't quite pay off. But consider also the names of Caskey, Hill, and Dixon. The loss of form and subsequent injury to Kevin Phillips. Andy Clarke's sneer as he knocked a reserve side out of the F.A. Cup at Selhurst Park. Norwich at home on the TV, the worst performance in living memory. Not being able to afford Wilkinson. The fact that Devon White was being depended on for goals. Even the fact that, with retrospect, Connolly was the centre of the mini-revival... we thought he was playing for Watford, in fact he was proving himself.

1996-97. Don't worry folks, we'll come straight back up, we're far too big a side to mingle with this riff-raff. Wrong. 19 League Draws and an embarrassing capitulation at Burnley ("They look a good bet for next season" - Anon) and we don't even make the top half.

So pause a minute, from your revelry. Dismiss from your mind the demolition of Brentford, Jason's belter against Wycombe, Johnno's assorted thunderbolts, payback time at Kenilworth Road, Ronnie against Blackpool, Gifton's face on equalising against Bristol City, PK's equaliser against Wednesday, Di Canio's Mediterranean temperament, the Moonster's theatrical winner against Rovers, Gibbsy's scorcher at Oldham, Big Jason's goal against Bournemouth, and especially, most of all, the party before, during and after Fulham.

Forget them all and spare a thought for Luton Town, surely confined to an immediate future of floundering; Chris Waddle who had an unsuccessful first "educational" spell in management (and presumably isn't too popular in Burnley, although they'd have probably done well in Europe); Kev'n'Ray's Travelling Circus, now crabless, £8million invested to ensure another season of trips to Wigan; Manchester United ("We've got a trophy, we've got a trophy..."); Yoyo Palarse (reduced to offering the manager's post to a baffled Lombardo, just because he's Italian); Neil Warnock and Mark McGhee (it's not always the nice guys that finish last); Millwall (who've finally acknowledged their moral standing by sacking a manager for being too good); and particularly the Bristol City fan who forked out for a premature "Champions" banner, and must now be feeling rather stupid.

All of the above are going through shallower times. Maybe their time will come next season. For now they must be feeling pretty low. Cast down petty squabbles, differences ingrained by childish football rivalries, and sympathise.

Or alternatively, stuff 'em and party !