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- From the football365 mailbox...
In April this year, following a long battle with pancreatitis, the only man ever to manage Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atleti passed away. He was a man who also managed his native Serbian national team, and, most memorably for me and 80s football fans, played with distinction for Luton Town, being an integral part of our Second Division title winning team in 81/82, seeing us promoted to the promised land in the days before Super Sundays. He was of course the one and only Radomir Antić. For a generation of Luton fans, however, he was known simply and affectionately as Raddy.
Raddy gave Luton the most recognisable and memorable moment in our history when, in the 82/83 season in a loser-goes-down relegation-settling match against Manchester City, he scored four minutes from time in the last game of the season to save us from the drop and condemned City to the second tier. At the final whistle, this led to the iconic celebration ‘dance’ of David Pleat as he took to the pitch like a drugged up gorilla that had inexplicably managed to squeeze into a beige suit. This image is seared into the memory of every Lutonian of my generation, and, along with plastic pitches (and in rarer cases, Scott Oakes and Brian Stein) it is often the only moment that anybody remembers or associates with Luton Town FC. Raddy’s loss was also Luton’s loss, and in a town that was not renowned for overwhelming hope or happiness (see also: Blinded By The Light), Raddy, and his moment, were rays of light in a challenging moment of both Lutonian and UK history.
Therefore, I couldn’t help but feel that Raddy was watching over us when Luton once again managed to escape relegation on the final day of the season. It may not have been from the top flight, but given our recent past, and the fact that we were as much as 10 points adrift at the bottom of the Championship, this was an incredible achievement that most of us had given up on before Graeme Jones steadied the ship and Nathan Jones returned. However, my thoughts upon the final whistle against Blackburn didn’t turn to Jones, or match-winning James Collins, they were reserved for the Serbian maestro who came to our sh*thole town from Real Zaragoza and breathed life and pumped adrenalin into our moribund footballing lives. Sometimes the stars just align. That one was for you Raddy; rest in peace, and thanks for the memories.
Dicky (‘Oh it’s there, they’ve done it’) Malb@lls
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