Despite not playing against Luton since an FA Cup 4th Round tie in the 1993/94 season, we have played Luton enough times in all competitions to bring out a head to head article preceding Saturday's match. One of my happier memories of the third round of the FA Cup was when Kieron Dyer bagged a double in a 3-0 win away at Southampton, Laurent Robert grabbing the other. It was a great night for Dyer as he returned to the ground where he was on the receiving end of a horror tackle from Tahar El Khalej two seasons beforehand which ended his hopes of gaining a place in the England squad for the upcoming 2002 World Cup.
Since 2007, we have failed to go beyond the fourth round of the FA Cup (being the second hurdle for us) and on seven of those occasions, we have been knocked out of the 3rd round and, sometimes, in embarrassing fashion. Before 2007, we arguably had a good record in the FA Cup like that of a good and solid Premier League team but this recent run from the previous decade has overshadowed the positive statistics for the competition.
Facts and Figures
Newcastle wins: 22
Luton Town wins: 17
Luton Town wins: 2
Newcastle wins: 1
At St. James' Park
Newcastle wins: 18
Luton Town wins: 2
Previous ten (all competitions)
Newcastle wins: 2 (9 goals)
Luton Town wins: 2 (9 goals)
Biggest win (in this fixture)
Newcastle United 7 - 2 Luton Town (05/04/1947)
The 1946/47 season was the first season in English football as the league reformed following the conclusion of the Second World War. It was this season where the two highest scoring encounters between Newcastle and Luton took place as 16 goals were scored over the course of the two league matches. The reverse fixture at Luton took place in November as Luton ran out 4-3 winners. However the Magpies gained revenge as they achieved, what is still, their biggest win over Luton in the following April as Newcastle finished in fifth place in the old Division Two, scoring 95 goals in the process.
Biggest defeats (in this fixture)
Newcastle United 1 - 3 Luton Town (15/09/1937)
Newcastle United 0 - 2 Luton Town (03/02/1973)
Funnily enough, these two matches are the only two occasions that Luton have come away with a win at St. James' Park. The latter from February 1973 was an FA Cup tie.
I am assuming that changes will be made for Saturday's match; which will probably see some reserve team players come in. We have known for a long time that we will have to play well in the league in order to avoid an immediate relegation. In order to keep the focus of the players of the primary objective, I wouldn't blame any fans if they would rather sacrifice a cup run if it means that the likelihood of relegation will decrease. As for me, personally, I enjoy the occasional distraction from league football. As far as the league is concerned, every game is a big game so I like to have that occasional cup match that comes as a distraction, almost, from the stresses that come with league matches.
Speaking of distractions, I'm glad that I will be at the match on Saturday because I would have probably otherwise watched the BBC coverage at home. It is at this time of year where the media can never ever ever ever ever (you get the picture) shut up about, the now defunct team, Hereford United knocking us out in February 1972. A year never goes by without the media reminding us of a match that happened 46 years ago. The very same clip was played when the third round draw was made despite, the now, Hereford FC needing to beat Fleetwood in a replay before the third round takes place. I'm keen to point out to "the media" that there have been other giant killings in the FA Cup's long 146-year history. For example, a League One Leeds United side ran out winners against massive rivals, Man United in 2010 and Barnsley's impressive run to the Semi-finals in 2008 after beating Chelsea and coming from behind to beat Liverpool at Anfield. In all honesty, I have heard next to no mention of those matches since probably because "the media" does not want to upset the glory-hunting fans of those big teams who probably live closer to the Sydney Opera House than the team they "support" but will then support Man City at the drop of a hat by the end of the season.