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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888

All time greatest F A Cup Giant Killings

No 5

Norwich City


Luton Town

Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced

by kind permission.

Fourth Round [Last 32]

Saturday January 26th 2013

Attendance: 26,521

Carrow Road, Norwich

Scorer: Scott Rendell {80}

  • Five Britons are among thirty-nine foreign workes killed during a four day hostage crisis at a natural gas facility in Algeria.
  • British Grandmother, Lindsay Sandford is sentenced to death by an Indonesian Court for drug smuggling.
  • Hugh Jackman is Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe his nemesis, Javert in the musical adaptation of Les Miserables.
  • Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons are in their sixth series as the World's favourite flat sharing nerds, Leonard and Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory.
  • Will I Am and a suspiciously British sounding Brittney Spears top the charts with Scream & Shout 

During the history of the Football League just three teams have felt the pain of three consecutive relegations. Northampton in the 1960s, dropping from top flight to basement after an equally rapid rise. Bristol City's fall to the basement was harder to explain after having been a relatively stable top flight club three years earlier. Luton joined their ranks in 2009. Their bemused fans forced to watch as they went from a side finishing fifteen points shy of a Premier League play-off to a side dropping into the fifth tier three seasons later.

Unlike Northampton and Bristol City, Luton's decline was more in the style of 21st Century financial penalties than actions on the field as the club suffered a total deduction of forty points over the course of the period. Hatters fans felt, with a possibility of justification, that they were being laid out as an example to the remainder of the Football League to stay within their means or face harsh penalty. Even more painfully for Luton was a three season run where they reached the Conference play-offs each time and each time failed to secure promotion back to the Football League.

This season Luton were, yet again, battling on the edge of the promotion play-offs under the guidance of manager, Paul Buckle, a former journeyman player in the League's lower divisions who took charge in the final weeks of the previous season. Luton's F A cup campaign kicked off in October with a fourth qualifying round tie at another ghost of the League, Cambridge United who, like Luton were on the fringes of the Football League promotion race.

Buckle's side consisted mainly of players who spent their careers in the lower divisions such as keeper, Mark Tylor, Ronnie Henry, Jake Howells, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Andre Gray, Stuart Fleetwood and Jon Shaw. J J O'Donnell came from non-league Football while a bit of continental spice was added by Hungarian defender, Janos Kovacs. The Hatters even had an international in Guinea-Bissau's Arnaud Mendy. Another lower League stalwart, Dean Beckwith and the Robinsons, Matt and Jake, the latter on a month-long loan from Northampton Town, came off the bench to cement a 2-0 victory secured by the goals of Gray and Shaw.

The First Round proper brought with it the disappointment of not being paired with a League side but also the very real prospect of progression against Conference strugglers, Nuneaton. This time Dean Brill took Taylor's place between the posts while Strikers, Scott Rendell and Dean Walker led the line. The Hatters were six minutes from departing from the competition when Rendell finally broke the visitor's resistance with a header.

Rendell was the difference in the replay with both goals in a 2-0 victory in front of five-hundred travelling Hatters to give Luton a home tie in Round Two with Conference South side, Dorchester Town. Jonathan Smith came into the side and helped The Hatters build a two goal lead but it was a nervy finish when the underdogs pulled a goal back and had numerous chances to force a replay

Now Luton's ambitions went from drawing a League side to getting a Premier League side but yet again the draw fell short of their hopes as they were paired at home to Championship Wolves, A side they faced as equals as recently as seven years earlier. The visitors, relegated from the top flight the previous season, were now in a poor run in the second tier and a few pundits pencilled the tie in as a chance of a major cupset. Buckle named his starting eleven as Tylor, Rowe-Turner, Taylor, Kovacs, Henry, Lawless, Mendy, O'Donnell, Smith, Shaw and Gray. In the days leading up to the game, Wolves' David Foley told the press how much he was looking forward to returning to Kenilworth Road, where he'd played in Luton's Championship days, as well as in a memorable cup tie with Liverpool that finished 3-5 to the visitors. The fates were against Foley as it was his mistake that let in Jon Shaw to set up Alex Lawless for a volleyed finish in the first minute of the second half to put Luton in front. The home side were by no means on the back foot either as they had chances to put the game beyond Wolves, although the nine minutes of injury time that were played took place largely around the Luton goal as the visitors pressed for an equaliser that didn't come.

The result cost Wolves Manager, Staal Solbakken his job and thrust the Luton players into the media spotlight, along with their Conference counterparts at Macclesfield who had also claimed the Championship scalp of Cardiff. Finally, at the fourth time of asking, Luton got the draw they wanted when they were paired to travel to Carrow Road to face Premier League Norwich City.

The Canaries were enjoying relative stability in the top flight under Chris Hughton, himself twice a cup winner with Tottenham in the early 1980s but were going through a sticky patch with no wins in their last six league games. Hughton made the now customary Premier League manager's decision to make six changes to his team, though considering the previous line up had been hammered 0-5 at Liverpool it was

questionable whether the changes made his side any weaker. Scotland's Russell Martin, Javier Garrido, Elliott Bennett and England under 21s Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson stayed in the side. Leon Barnett and Canadian International, Simeon Jackson were elevated from the substitute’s bench while experienced squad men, Andrew Surman and David Fox came into the team with youngster, Harry Kane, making his fifth start in a season long loan from Tottenham. With first choice keeper John Ruddy injured, his understudy, Mark Bunn had been deputising but stepped back to the subs bench to make way for third choice, Declan Rudd. Michael Turner and Norwegian International Alexander Tettey also moved to the subs bench, though both had yet to reach twenty appearances since signing for The Canaries at the start of the season while club captain, Grant Holt was also gambled as a reserve. Only Bradley Johnson and Scottish International Robert Snodgrass were left out of a side in which only Rudd and Kane could be considered inexperienced at the highest level. In the era of the Premier League squad system this was a side that it could not be argued was capable of winning a Premier League game, never mind a cup tie.

The morning of the tie rekindled memories of the greatest clash between the sides when, back in 1959, Norwich were the minnows and took top flight Luton to a replay in the Semi Finals of the competition as surviving players from both sides shared their memories of that day fifty-four years earlier to Television and Radio broadcasters. Meanwhile some 4,000 Luton fans made their way to Carrow Road to get behind the minnows, hoping to witness the first victory of a Non-League club at a top flight stadium for twenty-seven years.

FATV were there to relay the action

A cynical element within the public were quick to try and belittle Luton’s achievement, citing that this was technically half of Norwich’s first choice starting eleven and that the Conference in the 21st Century was a full time League, whereas, back in the old days, previous victors were part timers. While all valid points, there was an equally solid argument that the gap between the top flight and Non-League Football was much wider than in the 20th Century and that, in an age of the squad game, Norwich’s changes only served to bring some parity to the difference in class of the old days.

Unusually, defeat didn’t mean dismissal for Norwich manager, Chris Hughton, who still had a relegation battle to guide his club away from, they ultimately finished a comfortable eleventh, while for Luton came another chance at a giant killing and the opportunity to be the first Non League side for over a century to reach the quarter finals if they could defeat Championship Millwall in round five. In front of a live television audience, Luton kicked off the weekend of fifth round ties with a Saturday lunch time game that rekindled bad memories of a clash between the sides almost thirty years earlier. On that occasion Millwall fans had ripped out seats and fought pitched battles with police, which led to Luton's infamous membership scheme and ban on away fans. A heavier then usual Police presence was at Kenilworth Road, marked by the now unusual sight of officers in riot gear with attack dogs across the half way line at the final whistle. Thankfully the atmosphere remained largely cup feverish, rather than intimidating as the visitors made light work of a three goal victory.

Unfortunately for Luton, their League form during the big cup ties gave fuel to those who saw cup runs as a distraction to League ambitions. One win in nine games during January and February left their promotion hopes in tatters. They were also surprisingly managerless after Paul Buckle stepped down with immediate effect for personal reasons. It later transpired he was leaving for the United States with his TV presenter wife, Rebecca Lowe, who’d just landed a role with NBC. Luton never recovered any sort of form in the remainder of the season and finished seventh, a solid ten points adrift of a play-off spot.

Norwich: 13:Declan Rudd, 2:Russell Martin, 18:Javier Garrido, 20:Leon Barnett, 24:Ryan Bennett, 8:Jonny Howson, 11:Andrew Surman {replaced by 14:Wes Hoolahan -72}, 15:David Fox, 17:Elliott Bennett {replaced by 12:Anthony Pilkington - 77}, 10:Simeon Jackson, 37 Harry Kane {replaced by 9: Grant Holt - 46}

Luton: 1:Mark Tyler, 2:Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, 3:Greg Taylor, 6:Janos Kovacs, 11:Jake Howells, 25:Ronnie Henry, 7:Alex Lawless, 14:Arnaud Mendy {replaced by 17:J J O'Donnell - 78}, 24:Jonathan Smith, 9:Jon Shaw {replaced by 24:Scott Rendell -74}, 27:Andre Gray {replaced by 13:Stuart Fleetwood - 75}

Where you at Carrow Road in 2013? What are your memories of the day?