Read what director David Blakeman wrote in Saturday's programme
As ever, welcome to today's game. Welcome also to the players, officials and supporters of Tamworth.
Today's game is, of course, critical to both teams, for entirely different reasons. Tamworth need the points in order to extricate themselves from the wrong end of the table. Conversely, the points are vital for us to the continue our push towards automatic promotion.
Although there is always the temptation, when one is playing a side towards the foot of the table, to assume that, given our recent form, a win should be easy, I have little doubt that John Still, Terry Harris and their team will be treating this match with the greatest of caution. Examination of the league table suggests that Tamworth's position might be a slightly false one. They have games in hand on the teams around them, They have played, in the recent past, some difficult matches, including Cambridge and Wrexham – the latter apparently now moving into much better form. Nevertheless, given our recent performances, I feel we can be confident that we will produce quality football and I trust that that will turn into another important victory.
What I say above is not unconnected with the very exciting news we have had, last week, as to the arrivals of Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Jernade Meade. Both players have top-rate pedigrees. We have all seen Pelly’s recent performances – and I feel he is likely to play a major part in the latter part of the season. Jernade is, of course, a Luton lad, who has played, as recently as December 2012, in the Champions League. For a non-league side to field a player who has Champions League experience, especially when that game has taken place so relatively recently, must surely be a record?
What the signings say to me, as a fan, is that John Still has a reputation capable of enabling him to secure the signings of players one could not realistically have hoped to sign even in the very recent past. Our progression, in every respect, has been startling. I hope that that progression is evident today.
On other matters, we welcome, today, approximately 500 schoolchildren who are taking part in the Unleashing Potential programme, devised by local journalist, Amar Azam. Amar has been working closely with us in order to use the power of this football club to help local schoolchildren improve their school performance. The children who are here will have all managed to achieve improvements in School performance. Their trip here is a reward for that improvement. Of course, the fact that they are able to attend today's game is also, I hope, likely to lead to them wanting to become long-term Luton Town fans. Whilst our support base is, as we all know, little short of staggering, the fact is that the more we can do to grow it, the better. It is today's schoolchildren who will go into the long-term fans of the future. I am incredibly grateful to Amar for his support and help in running this project. Long may it continue.
We are not, however, just working with local schools. We have also been working with other agencies in order to assist them in delivering projects designed to assist adults, children, the disabled and others in improving lives. For instance, we have recently been involved with the Raise Your Game project, which saw approximately 100 young adults attend the stadium to undertake a course designed to improve their career prospects.
All of these things may seem irrelevant to the prospects of the team on the pitch. Strictly, of course, that is true. Ultimately, however, these various activities also increase the possibilities of individuals deciding to support the club. Although one will never see a huge take up from any specific event, the fact is that a few people, if they become long-term fans, can become ambassadors for the club – which really helps us to expand the supporter base.
I am really hugely hopeful about the future for our club. Let us hope that today's game helps us take a few more steps towards the realisation of our ambitions.