"Shimmy. Smack. Goal."
By Colin Wiggins
It was a meaningless Division Four match, end of the season, with nothing to
play for, on a gorgeous May afternoon in 1976. The terraces were pretty
empty and it was nice to be able to sprawl out across the steps and lazily
watch a nondescript Watford take on an even less descript Swansea City.
However, the option of soaking up the sun somewhere else had proved more
attractive to those thousands of Watford fans who were to miraculously
appear in the next few years. Nothing much was going on. One of those
matches when you spend most of the time reading the programme. Then the new
kid with the funny name got the ball on the edge of the D. Shimmy. Smack.
There are games of just two or three years ago that I know I went to, that
have completely vanished from my memory. This one, though, will stay with me
always. Maybe this is hindsight but I remember feeling that I had been
privileged to witness An Historic Moment. Luther's first goal.
How the hell can words do justice to this man? Like Marilyn, Elvis and Ross
he is known simply by his first name (although on one occasion, Bobby
Robson mysteriously chose to refer to him as 'Bluther'). The world first
sat up and took notice after that epic night at Old Trafford, with two
headed goals of sublime perfection. He became the first Golden Boy to be
capped for England. He was there in all four divisions. He fractured his
skull the night we hammered United 5-1.
Those who saw him will all have their own Luther memories, mine are too
numerous to even attempt listing. One favourite is the third goal at
Highbury in the 1987 FA Cup Quarter Final, with Luther bearing down on, and
beating an unprotected Lukic, whose defenders were too busy following the
grand old Arsenal tradition of running after the referee with their arms in
But, above all, Luther was a sportsman. He never whinged, he never dived, he
never feigned injury, he never tried to intimidate referees, he never spat
at opponents, he never attempted to provoke the other sides' fans. He played
because he loved it. He was a star of the first order but he never took for
granted his ability as an athlete and always played as if he wanted us to
know how thrilled he was to be there. He communicated his joy and
exhilaration to all of us who watched. And, of course, he scored goals.
Dozens and dozens of them.
Luther, we loved you. We still do. And I can promise you, we're not going
to stop now.