Read the final boardroom notes of the 2014/15 campaign
Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Kenilworth Road for our final league match of the season.
Before I go any further, I must say congratulations to our visitors and near neighbours Stevenage for securing a Play-Off place after a terrific late run which has seen them lose only once in their last 16 matches.
We, of course, are very much outsiders for a Play-Off place after such a wretched run which started, I suppose, back in February and led to nine defeats in 10, culminating in the unfortunate turn of events at Southend on Saturday. It’s all bitterly disappointing after we had looked so good earlier in the season when we led the table for a while and seemed likely to finish in the Play-Offs places at worst.
I know the reasons for our poor form have exercised us all, but I really can’t see past our extraordinary bad luck with injuries. I know all teams inevitably lose players to injury during the season, but the number of key players we’ve had to manage without for week after week has been frankly diabolical.
The men we’ve missed for a good chunk of the season include Mark Tyler, Nathan Doyle, Jonathan Smith, Alex Lawless, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Paul Benson, plus the loss through suspension for a number of games of our charismatic leader and stopper Stephen McNulty. These guys are absolutely pivotal members of our squad and there comes a time when so many are missing that it is really difficult to get a settled line-up. On top of all that, Elliott Lee was looking so dangerous up front and then he was crocked against Wycombe. We lost him for three games and, although he is playing, he is still battling to get back to full fitness.
So much for the reasons, or excuses, if you like. I think we have also been extremely unfortunate with a number of decisions made against us or not made for us, but the table says we have simply not been good enough for long enough in recent months, despite the fact that we have played some excellent football at times. I firmly believe we deserved to beat Shrewsbury at home and I also think we could well have won home and away against Burton, but somehow managed to lose.
So we go again – both this afternoon and in the months ahead into next season. You’ll be pleased to know that the players remain extremely positive and, until it is mathematically impossible to qualify for the Play-Offs, they will keep going in the hope that something remarkable might just happen today.
And let’s just remember that we are in our first season back in the Football League after five in the Conference and to be this close to the top end of the table is a significant achievement. We have high expectations at Kenilworth Road and rightly so, but let’s just reflect on those dreadfully tough seasons we spent trying to scramble out of non-league football and up to where we are today.
Wherever we finish this time, there have been some outstanding performers this season. Congratulations first of all to our captain for being named in the League 2 side of the year by the PFA. A considerable achievement and well deserved. Also, I am delighted for Nathan Doyle and Jonathan Smith for dominating the awards at the Luton Town Supporters’ Club and Trust in Luton dinner on Sunday. They have been such an important part of the team this season and we really missed them when they were both out injured.
A special mention too for striker Lee Angol, who’s scored 25 goals on loan at Boreham Wood, won three awards as players’ player of the year, supporters’ player of the year and young player of the year. His goals have helped fire Boreham Wood into the Conference South Play-Offs. How soon before he is banging them in for the Luton first team?
As ever, our crowds have been spectacular home and away, with our travelling support the best in the division. We have already sold approaching 4,400 season tickets for next time which is remarkable. On behalf of all of us behind the scenes at Kenilworth Road, thank you very much.
And while we’re talking about matters off the field, a warm welcome to Ray Williams who is becoming our new finance director. Ray is a life-long Luton fan and a man with considerable experience in the property world – a quality that will be invaluable as we move closer to relocation. As you know from Gary Sweet’s previous notes, that exciting prospect is edging ever nearer. Ray takes over from Roger Bannister who is retiring. We wish Roger all the best and, of course, our thanks go with him for all he’s done here. Keep in touch, Roger, and don’t just follow our results from a distance!
Meanwhile, there is a vacancy for club secretary and we are currently recruiting for that important role. Why? Because Kevan Platt has been promoted. Kevan becomes senior operations manager which will enable him to take on some of Gary’s duties in the daily running of the football club, while Gary will have more time to concentrate on relocation.
So back to the game today. Are we good enough to be in the Play-Offs? Of course we are, but we’ve been nowhere near consistent enough. Could we make it this afternoon? Well, miracles can happen and Luton Town have experienced a few in our long and colourful history.
I know it is unlikely, but let’s all give it our best shot, roar the team on as we always do for better or for worse and keep the faith. After all we’ve been through in recent years, that is still what we do: we believe and turn out in huge numbers, with support that other clubs envy.
Whatever happens today, I am so proud to be associated with this football club, approaching 57 years now of highs and lows, always with unwavering passion. John Still will work hard during the summer to improve the squad, helped in no small measure by his experiences this season. We have so much to look forward to. We only look up.
Have a good summer, bye for now.