HATTERS CHAIRMAN AND BBC TV PRESENTER
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.
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.
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.