Read vice-chairman David Wilkinson's notes from the weekend
Good afternoon everyone and a very warm welcome to Kenilworth Road.
Today we greet all the officials, players and supporters from Crawley Town.
The Reds are, like us, around mid-table at the moment. We have played them twice at their place this season, losing 2-1 in League 2 and winning 2-1 in the FA Cup. They are always a very hospitable club and we look forward to being able to repay some of that today.
My last notes were eight weeks ago for the Cambridge game – and what a change we have seen in that time. We have picked up six wins, two draws and two defeats since Nathan took over compared to only two wins in the 10 games before he arrived. This seems to me to be an amazing result bearing in mind he has been totally changing the way we play.
Sometimes the style has not been understood, but for me the results and clear progression speak for themselves, as does the passion showed by our manager and players during and after games.
I have been away for the past week and sadly missed two league victories and a Youth team win against Swindon in the Southern Area League Cup Final. I do not enjoy listening to commentary from afar and in my experience highlights are often not highlights, but at least I have managed to see the goals.
There have been a few changes in personnel in the past week. We have seen Mark Tyler move back to Peterborough after 297 appearances for us over six-and-a-half years. It is an opportunity for him and we couldn’t stand in his way. Mark has been a fantastic servant to our Club having been with us through all the Conference years and having helped us regain our place in the Football League and we wish him well for his future career. I for one hope that we have a proper opportunity to say goodbye to him before the end of the season.
In a similar vein we welcome keeper Jonathan Mitchell on loan from Derby County. By all accounts he had a very impressive debut against Leyton Orient and we hope he has an enjoyable and successful time with us.
We also congratulate 17-year-old Tyreeq Bakinson, whose performances for the Under-18s this year have earned him a three-and-a-half year professional contract. It has been a joy to watch the youth team’s performances this year and Tyreeq has been a major part of their success. It is very unusual for first year scholars to be given contracts, which demonstrates the faith the management has in his ability and future potential.
While I’m on the subject, what a fantastic performance the lads put in at Blackburn. Those of us who were there were immensely proud. I missed the Swindon game, but understand we were well in control and we now look forward to the Final against Shrewsbury.
The success of the youth team is particularly special to us because having made the decision to keep investing throughout the Conference years without support from central funding and despite the loss of a number of promising players to big clubs, we have managed to justify the investment and give us hope for the future.
Nevertheless, it is an ongoing battle. We are an EPPP3 academy and as such are always under threat from clubs at a higher level, who can, if they wish, ‘steal’ our players for a song. In most cases when that happens it is short-lived and the player ends up on loan at a lower level – or worse is just discarded, but it is difficult to persuade parents that their son would be better off staying at Luton than moving to Arsenal, for example.
We also have to be aware of other clubs’ attempts to muscle in on our territory and there are many examples of other clubs trying to move in to the Bedfordshire area and compete for the available talent.
We must, therefore, do our best, all of us, to make us a Club people want to play for. Nathan has said that it was David Pleat who impressed him and made him think about management. Something about Luton Town stayed with him all those years and eventually made him decide he wanted to manage us. On the other hand, it was that grounding and enthusiasm that made us decide he was the man for us.
We talk a lot about your support, the numbers who travel and the passion you show for our wonderful football club and Saturday at Orient was another classic example. We are so proud of you all.
Recently we had a QPR supporter with his son, Feidlim aged seven, in the Boardroom with us. We gave him a brief tour and he enjoyed the game. On the way home he asked his Dad if he could support Luton as well as QPR and could he get him a shirt. There is something about us which sucks people in and doesn’t let them go.
While we are on the subject of pride, can I take this opportunity to congratulate our old boy Andre Gray on his goals and performances for Burnley, who are currently sitting on top of the Championship. I always keep an eye on our ex-players at whatever level, and hope they do well, as I believe it reflects well upon us.
Enjoy the game,
“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus and the support” S. Bryan
Come on you Hatters,