Luton Town v Watford
Striker James Collins is just one of a number of layers who will be playing in their first Luton Town v Watford derby this upcoming season. (Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

There are rivalries and then there is hatred. What Luton Town FC v Watford FC have is the latter, without a doubt, and for the first time in fifteen years, they will get to live out that hatred on the pitch. For the first time since the 2005-06 season, both teams find themselves in the same division, and on September 26th, 2020, the hatred will be renewed. I for one can’t wait and I’m thousands of miles away.

Growing up in Ireland there weren’t many of us ‘Hatters’. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the team that had chosen me as a fan. The local parish priest had spent some time in Luton and still had connections, so every Monday he would come to collect the church envelopes from my Mam and bring me something Luton Town related. It could have been an old programme from past games, a copy of the local newspaper with a story related to the club, or in some cases memorabilia from the club shop if he’d been to a game.

From these bits and bobs, I deciphered a number of things. Following Luton was never boring, Boncho Genchev became my go-to name when we were pretending to be players playing on the street, and I hated Watford with a passion I had never felt before in my young life.

The 1993-94 season was so memorable because of our amazing FA Cup run. The ‘minnows’ of Luton made it all the way to the Semi-Finals, beating Newcastle and West Ham along the way. Scott Oakes hat-trick against West Ham is folklore in the world of Luton Town. But I also remember one other thing from that season and that was the 2-1 win over Watford, five days after my birthday. I’m sure I got some great presents that year. Unfortunately for my family the one that came the latest courtesy of Paul Telfer and Kerry Dixon goals was definitely the most memorable one.

The next season we put them to the sword again with a 4-2 win. Telfer was again on the scoresheet (twice in fact)as was Dixon. My favorite player at the time, Scott Oakes, capped another great day, this time embarrassing Watford in their own ground.

The last fifteen years though have had no such joy. Luton slid into the obscurity of non-league football while Watford spent six of them as a top-flight Premiership team. During those non-league days, the only hope we had of continuing the hatred was an FA Cup draw, which never happened. Then the resurgence started. John Still masterminded our escape out of the dreaded non-league and then Nathan Jones helped get us to the Championship in his first tenure as manager. Jones then returned to the club in May and miraculously kept us in the Championship.

As Luton’s game against Blackburn ended on Wednesday the 22nd of July and a 3-2 win secured our status in the EFL Championship for another year, all focus turned to the Sunday Premier League fixtures. Watford needed something in their final game of the season against Arsenal. They also needed results to go their way in other games to have any hope of survival. As the clock ticked down and it became clear they wouldn’t get the job done, excitement kicked in. We would be playing each other again very soon.

Gary Sweet is making the right moves to preserve Luton Town’s future

Well, now we know just how soon thanks to the fixture release. September 26th, 2020 Watford v Luton Town the hatred resumes. I cannot wait!

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