Luton Town lift the Errea Cup
HATS off to Luton Town, the winners of this year s Errea South West Challenge Cup. Despite recent financial adversity and subsequent relegation from the Football League, Luton Town lifted their second trophy in four months with a 3–1 win against stand-in fin
HATS off to Luton Town, the winners of this year's Errea South West Challenge Cup.
Despite recent financial adversity and subsequent relegation from the Football League, Luton Town lifted their second trophy in four months with a 3-1 win against stand-in finalists Royal Racing FC Montegnee from Belgium on Sunday.
April's Johnstone Paint Trophy winners will be looking to find a quick escape route from the Blue Square Premier next season, but they'll do so having already pocketed their first piece of silverware thanks to goals by tournament top scorer Tom Craddock, an own goal, and a strike by substitute Asa Hall in what turned out to be an enjoy-able final at Bideford.
The competition had threatened to end in farce following Grimsby Town's shock with-drawal from the tournament due to concerns over fixture congestion and crowd safety.
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The tournament organisers, spent several hours negotiating with Luton, Grimsby, Devon FA, and police, before an official announcement was made late on Saturday night.
Following a 4-1 win in their semi-final with Rushden & Diamonds, Mariners chairman John Fenty asked organisers if the final could be brought forward from 6pm to 2pm. Safety concerns were raised after a section of Luton followers are understood to have verbally abused Grimsby boss Mike Newell at games against Yeovil and Rushden.
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Newell, who managed the Hatters from 2003, was sacked by the club in March 2007 after criticising the board for not investing enough money into the club.
A statement on Grimsby Town's website read: "It is with deep regret that Town have withdrawn from the Errea South West Challenge Cup final against Luton due to not being able to reach agreement on the kick off time. The police were taking into account intelligence and potential conflict with some Luton Town supporters which presented a real risk in the opinion of our club, event organisers and the police. The club wishes to make it absolutely clear that our club's withdrawal from the competition is based solely on grounds of safety."
As RRFC Montegnee stepped in at the 11th hour to play the final, Grimsby returned to South Humberside in time for a scheduled Lincolnshire Senior Cup fixture the following night.
Tournament director Mike Bradshaw said: "Frankly it felt like we had been presented with an ultimatum - you either change the kick-off time or we don't play. Having explained fully the plans already laid, which we felt more than adequate to handle the potential for any disruption, it was quickly evident that we were in danger of being bounced into an unwarranted change of time with untold consequences for our own staff, those of Luton Town, their fans and the wider supporter base attracted to the tournament.
"I cannot make anybody play a game they patently do not wish to play. Furthermore I do take our responsibility for public safety very seriously. We have completed 14 matches without a single incident of spectator disturbance and I believe that our professional reputation and that of my support team has now been seriously questioned by this development."
n Results in full:
Group A: Ilfracombe Town 1-4 Exeter City; Eastleigh 1-0 Ilfracombe Town; Exeter City v Eastleigh (match cancelled).
Group B: RRFC Montegnee 0-5 Yeovil Town; Grimsby Town 1 - 0 RRFC Montegnee; Yeovil Town 2 - 3 Grimsby Town.
Group C: Bideford 0- 0 Wycombe Wanderers (pens 4-5); Luton Town 3-0 Bideford; Wycombe Wanderers v Luton Town (match cancelled)
Group D: Barnstaple Town 0 - 5 Blackpool; Blackpool 1-1 Rushden & Diamonds (pens 2-4); Rushden & Diamonds 3-1 Barnstaple Town.
Semi finals: Exeter City 2-3 Luton Town; Grimsby Town 4 - 1 Rushden & Diamonds.
Final: Luton Town 3-1 RRFC Montegnee.