Tuesday 8th September 2020 19.45
United Counties League Premier
Lutterworth Town 1 Shepshed Dynamo 2 HT: 0-1 Att: 162
Samuels 89 : Melbourne 27, Brennan 90
from Kong Park
The season had finally started properly the previous week with some extra preliminary cup action. Dave and I were at Hanley Town where a record crowd of 300 saw them progress to the next round against Lye Town. It was a great atmosphere there and was also the unveiling of their new signing, Ricardo Fuller. Yes, Hanley had signed the talismanic ex Stoke City striker and fans’ favourite. Alas he wasn’t playing, but his very presence seemed to lift the whole place.
This Tuesday was back to new grounds though, and we’d decided to explore the United Counties East League, a league neither of us had chalked up many grounds in, but with the new covid reduced traffic, the A50, M1 corridor was looking very attractive.
I’ve only a handful of decent grounds to visit less than 70 miles away, but when I extend this to 80 a few UCL grounds spill out of the shadows. Lutterworth Town came in 11th nearest at 76.3 miles. They were playing highly fancied Shepshed Dynamo in the Premier (step five) division.
The new world order of face masks, track and trace, quarantine and being shouted at for walking the wrong way had made the logistics of going to the football complex. Is the match ticket only? What’s the new capacity and will they reach it before we get there? On the A50 Dave was busy on twitter finding out the answers to these questions, when other fixtures were getting postponed for positive covid results among players. Midland league fixtures were falling everywhere. Strange days indeed.
We arrived in Lutterworth with time to spare. It seemed like a pleasant little town, but as we parked up in the centre, primed for the fish and chip shop, our eyes were both drawn to Angel’s Touch Massage, writ large on a building in the set-back precinct, pride of place in the town. We both wondered if the marketing board of Lutterworth knew about this and what sort of establishment it was. Last massage parlour before the M1!
It was also this that prompted an early contender for one-liner of the season by Dave. After walking around looking for a cash machine and failing, Dave said that the only ATM around here is Angel’s Touch Massage – genius.
While eating in the car we saw a welcoming pub called the Shambles, a prescient name considering the clarity of rules regarding the running of public establishments during the pandemic. Ordinarily it would be a no-brainer choice, but there were too many anxiety inducing variables. Are non-locals welcome? Which door do we enter by? Do we need masks, will we need to sign in? Will we be metaphorically goosed by someone barking at us for committing some new covid-related infraction?
So we went straight to the ground. Lutterworth Town were founded in the 1920s and have spent most of their existence in the Leicestershire League. They won this in 2016-17 and after installing floodlights in 2017 and Paul Gascoigne opening a 50 seater stand the same year, stepped up to the United Counties League, where they were promoted to the Premier League at the first attempt.
The visitors were the much fancied Shepshed Dynamo and they did look like a very strong outfit. Despite their superiority in the first half, some misses, great keeping and almighty scrambles where the ball evaded the crossline kept the score down to 0-1.
In the second half Lutterworth were much improved and kept lugging away for an equaliser that, given their first half showing, should not have been an option. The equaliser did come though, a brilliant final touch by Samuels from a ball drilled in to the area.
The home contingent were still buzzing when Brennan for the visitors smacked a daisy cutter from distance into the corner. It was a sign that Shepshed’s pre-season hype was justified. It’s this confidence and ability to almost score on request which is the sign of a team intent on promotion. It was a shame for the home side whose renewed second half effort was rewarded, but on balance probably a fair result.