Read Gary Sweet's programme notes from the Alfreton game
A warm welcome one and all to Kenilworth Road for our second home fixture in the space of five days for yet another eagerly-anticipated Skrill Premier match.
We welcome everybody associated with Alfreton Town to Bedfordshire for what will be their third visit. Huge congratulations are in order to Nicky and his team, on what has been an excellent campaign so far. We hope they are successful in their endeavours this season – after today’s 90 minutes of course!
I remember the excitement of the journey home from the Impact Arena in December following our 5-0 victory and, probably, at the time, never envisaged that our performances or results could be topped. How wrong was I? The season so far has been a joy, but the last two months – the last in particular – have been an incredible ride for us all. A win at Macclesfield is a collectors’ item for any Luton supporter, but to then win 7-0 and then 5-0, twice, as we have done in the last few days, is nothing short of remarkable.
It makes a welcome change for our boardroom notes to be talking about the joys of an incline from our beloved rollercoaster rather than the, apparent, gut wrenching freefall which we have all experienced over the past few years. Until now.
On Wednesday John Still was, deservedly so, announced as the Skrill Premier manager of the month for February– a year to the day that John was appointed by the board last year. Congratulations to John and the team on not only that award but a fantastic 12 months. At this rate I’m sure to run out of superlatives by the end of this article, however, I am sure John will be the first to say that the award isn’t for him.
It’s apt that the award should be announced on the anniversary of his appointment and it also gives me the opportunity to reflect on a typically Lutonesque 12-months, full of ups and downs. Like his predecessor, John had the misfortune of sitting through 90 minutes of a defeat at Braintree before getting his teeth into things, and slowly but surely the magic started to happen.
Losing at home to Hyde and 5-1 at Gateshead before last season are just two instances. Who doubted John after eight games this season? It has been a remarkable turnaround. Almost too dramatic to put into words. Our position in the league table at the moment is testament to the hard work of John and his staff. I think it’s important I place on record the enormous support that John has received from his staff; Terry Harris, Hakan Hayrettin, Dave Richardson, Jeff Wood, Simon Parsell and Darren Cook - plus a number of supporting technicians behind them. These men are John’s unsung heroes, his extra pair of eyes, or ears. Without them, I can assure you, we would not be in the position we are today.
Before the Wrexham game on Tuesday we revealed the news that, from here on, the Oak Road end of the stadium will now be open to home supporters on a permanent basis. Getting the green light from the authorities – and on that, our sincere thanks to Bedfordshire Police and the Safety Advisory Group at Luton Borough Council – has been a major breakthrough and we are delighted with this exciting opportunity which I trust and hope you will take advantage and benefit from.
We also have Kevan Platt and Leon Blackburn to thank greatly too. Without a club secretary and safety officer of Premier League standard the technical solution to this would never have been crafted.
The experiments this season of allocating the whole stand to home supporters has worked tremendously well and this permanent housing of home supporters in this section has meant an increase of 1,000 seats available in this section to Hatters fans. Further detailed answers to questions can be found elsewhere in this programme. We hope you enjoy it.
So, other than the news of an effective capacity extension and reclaiming some home turf, we also have some other good news and, alas some bad.
The good news is Luton Town is going to get promoted. The bad news is that we can't guarantee when.
We’ve won nothing yet this season, other than admiration. Yes the league table looks mighty impressive, but we are still a long, long way from realising that dream. Many clubs will have a lot to say about that, indeed we have some almighty difficult fixtures to overcome between now and the end of the season, today being one.
There’s no disputing that we remain in an excellent position presenting a golden opportunity but what we need from everybody – staff, players, management, supporters, directors – is to be united as we continue to progress, just as unity has got us into this magnificent position.
We know our players will remain focused and will not get complacent. If we all continue to support as we can the club will be ready.
We will be in a much better position to progress in a multitude of ways. Knowing our efforts wouldn't be wasted some day, tireless efforts across all aspects of the business have been invested into methodical preparations for whenever the day comes.
I’d like to end by saying one thing: embrace today and our final 14 matches of what could turn out to be one of the most defining periods in our history.
Gradually the belief and pride has been restored. Let’s keep it that way and enjoy these times whatever the outcome. Sing loud and be proud of your football team. Enjoy the game.