HAT­TERS CHAIR­MAN AND BBC TV PRE­SEN­TER

The Football League Paper - - FOCUS ON -

Lu­ton Town FC is part of my DNA. Along with tens of thou­sands of other Lu­ton fans, I have felt the joys and de­spair of fol­low­ing a club that’s surely had more ups and downs than any other in the last 50 years or so.

Be­cause we have ex­pe­ri­enced so many pro­mo­tions and rel­e­ga­tions, plus a das­tardly points de­duc­tion, Lu­ton sup­port­ers aged around 30 or more have seen their side play reg­u­lar league foot­ball at an as­ton­ish­ing va­ri­ety of grounds from Ar­se­nal to Al­fre­ton, Ever­ton to Ebb­s­fleet, Tot­ten­ham to Tam­worth. Surely only Wi­gan Ath­letic and the orig­i­nal Wim­ble­don can re­motely com­pare with our bizarre CV!

Our com­mand of English ge­og­ra­phy has to be sec­ond to none!

So our suc­cess in the Skrill Pre­mier this sea­son, af­ter five years in Non-League foot­ball, is that much sweeter, par­tic­u­larly when you re­call our cat­a­strophic fall from the Cham­pi­onship in 2007 to the Con­fer­ence in 2009.

We had a very slow start this sea­son, win­ning only two of our first eight matches, and found goals hard to come by, but man­ager John Still urged us all to be pa­tient – the goals and re­sults would come. And, of course, they did.We scored 102, had a stonk­ing goal dif­fer­ence of 67 and cre­ated a club un­beaten record of 27 matches.

Cult fig­ure

There’ve been some out­stand­ing in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions, par­tic­u­larly An­dre Gray with his 30 goals and his ex­cel­lent part­ner­ship with Paul Benson, but the main fac­tor for me has been the team ef­fort.You can’t find a weak spot from back to front – even our de­fend­ers, be­sides keep­ing a record num­ber of clean sheets, have cre­ated nu­mer­ous goals and, in the case of the cult fig­ure of Steve McNulty, ac­tu­ally scored what’s been voted our best of the sea­son! A mon­strous vol­ley from some­where near Hitchin!

It’s also worth point­ing out how well the side’s coped with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of in­juries, in­clud­ing a hor­ror dou­ble leg break for the hugely pop­u­lar mid­fielder Jonathan Smith over Christ­mas. Through­out the sea­son, we’ve lost the ser­vices for long spells of six play­ers who’d ex­pect to be reg­u­lar first team­ers. John Still’s ge­nius has been to min­imise the im­pact of these losses, find­ing some ex­cel­lent new talent, young and hun­gry, ei­ther to sign or bring in on loan.

Elec­tri­fied

In fact, it all comes back to John, his as­sis­tant Terry Har­ris and first team coach Hakan Hayret­tin plus the rest of the coach­ing staff. Af­ter eight years of cat­a­strophic de­cline, steady sta­bil­i­sa­tion and re­nais­sance of the club, they have elec­tri­fied the place, lifted the frus­tra­tion and elim­i­nated the neg­a­tiv­ity that had per­vaded Ke­nil­worth Road – and got us play­ing ex­hil­a­rat­ing foot­ball, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of 5-0 away wins, plus a 7-0 and 6-0 at home.

My sin­cere thanks to them and all the play­ers for mak­ing this such an out­stand­ing mem­ory in my 50 plus years sup­port­ing Lu­ton Town, thanks to all the of­fice staff who’ve en­dured such test­ing times and thanks too to our ded­i­cated and com­mit­ted in­vestors with­out whom we would not have had a club.

As for our fans! Spe­cial be­yond words. An aver­age home at­ten­dance of 7,200 and an aver­age away fol­low­ing of more than a thou­sand. Stag­ger­ing!

We will con­tinue to trea­sure the friends we’ve made in the Con­fer­ence.We are also look­ing ahead to re­new­ing old ac­quain­tances in the League and re­join­ing the fam­ily we left in 2009 af­ter 89 years.

It is a very, very good feel­ing and I am so proud to be part of the in­sti­tu­tion that is Lu­ton Town Foot­ball Club.The club that teetered on the abyss, but re­fused to die.

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