Nick Owen's Saturday programme notesThe following appeared in the boardroom page of last Saturday's programme, Talk of the Town. Copies of issue six are still available in the club and online.
Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Kenilworth Road for our fourth home game of the season –hopefully one where we can begin to start turning things around! It’s hardly ideal to be playing the side that’s carrying all before them, second in the table and unbeaten, but congratulations to Cheltenham Town on such a cracking start and welcome to all from Whaddon Road today.
I know we are all bitterly disappointed at the way results have gone since our fine start at Carlisle, but I think we are all agreed that we played well against Plymouth Argyle last weekend and created some really decent chances in the first half. Had we taken just one I am sure it would have done wonders for our confidence and we’d have gone on to win the game. The Plymouth goal was a good one from their point of view but dreadful from ours and a real sickener. Even so, there were loads of encouraging signs and I am confident the side will start to click very soon – just as we did last season after a similarly slow start.
By the way, what is it about us and home games on television? We’ve lost the last three and it’s extremely annoying. Other people don’t know how good we can be, but I suppose it might give other clubs a false sense of security! Excellent coverage from Sky Sports, though, so thanks to them for that.
It was good to see some great Luton heroes from days gone by at the Plymouth game, such as Mick Harford, Brian Stein, Andy King and our club chaplain Alan West. We have another name with us today who will bring back some fond memories for our more ‘experienced’ fans. We’re joined by former striker Don Givens whom I remember mostly for his terrific partnership up front with Malcolm Macdonald.
Don joined us in 1970, during the Alec Stock/ Harry Haslam era, and what a coup it was for Luton Town. He’d been an aspiring young footballer at Manchester United where he rubbed shoulders on a daily basis with the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. His manager was the great Matt Busby. I think it was a bit off a shock for him when he was allowed to leave Old Trafford after playing only a handful of games following his arrival from the Republic of Ireland, but he soon settled with his wife Lynne in Luton and loved his time here.
I remember Don as a subtle, intelligent player who could really spot a pass and was lethal in the air. His combination with Supermac in October 1970 when we thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 at Hillsborough is one of my favourite matches of all time. Don scored two, Malcolm nabbed a hat-trick. It was a magical afternoon for Hatters fans.
After Luton, Don had great success at QPR, enjoyed some happy times with Neuchatel Xamax in Switzerland and notched up a total of 56 caps for the Republic. He scored a hat-trick against the USSR. He has since worked in a coaching or scouting capacity for the Republic for some 14 years and still does.
Another welcome today to the latest man to join our playing ranks, Nathan Doyle. Nathan is a 27-year-old midfielder who has played for Derby County, Hull City and, most recently, Bradford City. He comes with a fine reputation and has been highly rated by John Still for some time. Nathan, we wish you a long and successful career here at Kenilworth Road.
You may have seen the result of our Tuesday game against Bournemouth in the Final Third Development League. A thumping 5-0 which included a hat-trick from Jim Stevenson which will have done wonders for his confidence. Congratulations, Jim, and to the whole team. It was a great lift for us all that Jonathan Smith played the full 90 minutes – and on full throttle. It is so good to have him available once more. It was also good last weekend to see Alex Lawless fit and fired up again!
There are so many encouraging signs around the place at the moment that I can’t believe we won’t start picking up points very soon. Shrewsbury, I grant you, was grim, but many aspects of the Plymouth game last weekend: the various individuals picking up form again and the return of injured players all bodes well. I can assure you the spirit in the dressing room is excellent and the desire burns stronger than ever.
Asa Hall may well be playing for Cheltenham today and I will always remember that he scored one of the penalties that took us to the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in 2009 and, of course, he played a major part in our win on that glorious day at Wembley. Now we’re in it again, playing Crawley at home early next month. Are we still technically the holders? We are, as far as I am concerned, having never lost it and having never had the chance to defend it!
As always, thanks to all of you wonderful fans for your magnificent support, home and away. Even when things have been going against us you have shouted encouragement – and that took some doing at Shrewsbury. It’s greatly appreciated by all the players and, with any luck, it will finally pay dividends today.
Bye for now, Nick