On Monday 22nd March 1897, the Straw Plaiters won the Kettering Charity Cup by beating Rushden 1 0 with a goal from Gallacher. After the presentation and tea in Kettering, the players and party returned to Luton. The Luton Times takes up the story, square bracket are my comments;
“The Luton contingent left to catch the 9 o’clock train. They had hoped to travel together in a saloon, but during the day it had been shunted about and had come to grief. Luton was reached at 10.19, where a huge crowd awaited their arrival. As they appeared with the Cup, deafening cheers were sent up. The Red Cross Band was waiting at the foot of the bridge steps in Bute-street, and struck up “See the conquering heroes come.” Mr Shackleton and Mr Barford had charge of the cup whilst Stewart [the captain, photo left] was carried shoulder high. Williams would have been shown similar attention, but declined the honour. The crowd had swelled to close on 3,000, and they cheered themselves hoarse as far as the Midland Hotel [LTFC headquarters on the corner of Manchester Street and Williamson Street] where the cup was uncased and filled with champagne. There were repeated calls, and in response Mr Barford said the team had had a hard fight, won a great battle, and the town was justly proud of them, for they were absolutely the best we ever had. They had won a magnificent cup (“won by Gallacher”). The cup was not won by one man, but by the whole team. They had all worked hard, and every one deserved the greatest credit (applause).
Stewart had also to appear, and elicited cheers by saying that the team now intended to get the championship of the United League. McCartney [future LTFC manager] was also hailed, and with great eloquence informed the assembly that he was intoxicated with delight and enthusiasm (cheers). He wished to make a prophecy (laughter), although he did not know if it would come true (renewed laughter), which was the Luton would not lose another match during the remainder of the season (loud cheers).
On Tuesday night, the Cup underwent further baptism at both Conservative and Liberal Clubs.”
McCartney’s prophecy did not come true as the Straw Plaiters lost out on the United League title by two points to their nemesis, Millwall. They did, however, win the Luton Charity Cup that season by beating Chesham 9 0 in the final. The reserves won the Bedfordshire County Cup. Players and supporters have to enjoy glory while it lasts.