Luton Town, a club forever synonymous with the late, great Eric Morecambe, have brought plenty of sunshine through the years for Doncaster Rovers midfielder Matty Blair.
The Hatters’ Kenilworth Road home may be looking increasingly weather-worn and has seen better times, but Blair will lament the day when the Bedfordshire club move across to a 23,000-seater new stadium at Power Court in the town centre.
It was in the colours of Rovers’ White Rose rivals York City that Blair – part of the Doncaster side due in at Luton today – earned the full glare of the spotlight after heading in a late leveller to send the Minstermen to Wembley in dramatic fashion in the second leg of their FA Trophy semi-final with Luton in March, 2012.
Blair helped secure a 2-1 aggregate success for York in the process with that strike then estimated to be worth around £175,000 to the cash-strapped Bootham Crescent outfit.
Yet it was only part of the story.
The Midlander famously went on to provide an encore that assured him legendary status among Minstermen followers – again at Luton’s expense when he netted a hugely controversial winner from an offside position in the Blue Square Premier final two months later at the home of football.
From the weekend on now I think it will be a very entertaining run-in.Matty Blair
It was a sickening moment for the 30,000 Hatters fans who made up the bulk of the crowd as Blair helped York return to the Football League and secure a first promotion in 19 years.
Blair also displayed his penchant for finding the net against Luton earlier this season when he netted Rovers’ opener in a 2-1 success at the Keepmoat Stadium in early September.
Incredibly the Hatters have lost just one league game since in a remarkable run of form that is surely destined to see them achieve their Holy Grail of a return to the second tier soon.
It will also draw the sting from any ill-feeling towards Blair from those fans with long memories, although the 29-year-old believes he was always afforded a spot of insurance anyway.
Blair told The Yorkshire Post: “I don’t really get stick.
“It probably comes down to the fact that we (York) had a player who went from Luton to York in Jason Walker. He probably got all the stick; everything.
“So, for me, I probably went under the radar a little bit.
“Yes I know I was offside with the (Wembley) goal, but it is not the player’s fault is it? The ball was there and I put it in.
“I do not think Luton are too bothered about it, really – and they are flying in League One, so I do not think they are.”
On returning to a Kenilworth Road venue that holds fond memories, he added: “I thoroughly enjoy it and it is an old-style ground. I am a little bit gutted they are actually leaving.
“It has got a lot of character and every time I have been I have enjoyed it.
“They are a team who I have a good record against and I like to play against them.
“I am not going to say, ‘do you know what, I am going to score a hat-trick’ or anything like that.
“But it probably does fill you with more confidence going into a game knowing that you have got a good record against them and everything else.
“I will give it everything like I always do and, hopefully, get on the scoresheet – but more important is for us to win.”
Blair may avoid some flak from Luton fans today, but he has been on the receiving end of some banter and jibes from another League One promotion aspirant intent on recreating some glory days for themselves.
Coventry City are rapidly emerging as play-off dark horses of repute and Warwick-born Blair – whose father Andy played for the Sky Blues in the early Eighties – has already been made aware of the fact that they are in close proximity of sixth-placed Rovers following a run of four wins in their past six outings.
Adding further spice is the fact Coventry, who trail Rovers by a point having played a game more, visit the Keepmoat Stadium in a potential straight shoot-out for the play-offs on the final day of the regular season.
On the subject of contact from Sky Blues fans, Blair added: “It started from the weekend. Obviously Coventry beat Peterborough 2-1 and it has started from then.
“I got the first one (text) from a friend of mine saying, ‘we are coming for you’. Before then I do not even think the Coventry fans could actually believe that they would get where they are.
“From the weekend on now I think it will be a very entertaining run-in.”
Rovers’ six-match winless streak might be further emboldening Coventry supporters, but Blair is adamant that while form is temporary, class is permanent.
He firmly believes that Grant McCann’s side, on their day, are up with the best teams in the division, with victory over Luton in the reverse fixture and two dominant shows against second-placed Barnsley providing supporting evidence.
Blair feels play-off qualification will be ticked off comfortably if Rovers consistently reach the standards they have shown for much of the season.
With time still on Doncaster’s side in their quest to rediscover their form, Blair believes that Rovers have it in their power to generate some momentum again, just as he and Fleetwood colleagues did in a late-season charge to promotion to the third tier via the play-offs in 2012-13.
He added: “We have put ourselves within a massive opportunity of doing something very special this season.
“I remember at Fleetwood we went on a run at the end of the season where we went ‘bang, bang, bang’ and it gave us momentum for the play-offs.
“If we (Doncaster) are in the play-offs and are the team in form, out of everybody in there currently at the moment we are the team who I can guarantee that every manager would be saying, ‘you do not want to be playing them’.”