Vice-chairman's programme notes from Saturday
The following 'From The Boardroom' column by vice-chairman David Wilkinson appeared in the matchday programme for Saturday's game against Crewe Alexandra. Please send your views on the Power Court and Newlands Park planning applications to Luton Borough Council TODAY!
Good afternoon everyone and a warm welcome to Kenilworth Road.
Our visitors today are Crewe Alexandra, and we welcome the Officials, Players and Supporters from the Railwaymen for the first time since March 2008. We managed a 2-1 win that day with goals from Matthew Spring, but the season ended with us being relegated to League Two. The rest is history with us at 2020 taking over the Club and it, subsequently, receiving the infamous 30-point deduction the following season, which culminated in relegation from the Football League.
I mention this not to rake up the past, but to show how much recent performances by our young and academy players means to us. One crucial part of the vision and philosophy of 2020 was to encourage, promote and support home grown and young talent and to provide an opportunity for them to play quality football at the highest level possible.
We are all tremendously proud that the five years in the Conference with no external funding and the faith shown to resist the attention of League Clubs is now bearing fruit in a way it never has before in the Club’s history.
Fresh in the mind is our extraordinary performance on Tuesday night against West Brom’s Academy side, made even more special by the fact that four of the West Brom team had Premier League experience and were between 25 and 33. The teamwork, quality and effort were wonderful to watch and it is such a shame, although understandable, that there were so few of you there to see it.
As a long term fan and investor it made me very proud and highly optimistic for our future. You all know that we are not fans of the competition, but it does give an opportunity to young players to show their worth.However, it does seem that the powers that be feel as though the only players worth encouraging are those at EPPP1 level.
As we are showing and Crewe, under Dario Gradi, are famous for having shown in the past, there is a mass of talent in English football. It is often deprived of the opportunity to play at the highest level because of the preponderance of foreign players in the Premier League and the Championship. Personally I feel this is the area that most needs addressing.
Continuing with the theme since I last wrote James Justin and Akin Famewo have had their Football League debuts, and didn’t they do well?
Connor Tomlinson became the Town’s youngest ever player when he came on at Gillingham and the team at Hartlepool had an average age of just over 22, which is believed to also be the youngest League line-up we have ever fielded.
Christian Walton has been called up to the England U21 squad and 15-year-old Tiernan Parker made his debut for the Northern Ireland U17s against Spain a few weeks ago.
I’m sure you will join me in congratulating all of the above on their achievements. They are a credit to our great club.
Finally, for now on team matters, it was great to see Scott Cuthbert back in the fray last week after his worrying neck injury suffered against Doncaster in our last game here. It was good to see the care taken, at the time, in case it had been more serious than it turned out to be.
After today’s game, at 5pm, England are playing Malta and fans are welcome to stay and watch the game in the Stadium bars. I wonder if Gareth Southgate having managed the U21s will be more inclined to give youth a chance. We have shown that it can be a very pleasant surprise, but the only way to find out is play them.
Could I remind you again for the last time that the ground planning application consultation deadline is this coming Monday. There has been a tremendous response, but we are never satisfied. There are many fans out there who haven’t responded so far. Remember we took 42,000 to Wembley for the JPT Final.
There is a new easy to use form, which just asks boxes to be ticked (www.thisisour.town). Anyone can do it. Friends, family, colleagues. It doesn’t matter where you live, doesn’t even matter if you support Luton Town. Would it be good for the Town, the region, the country, football as a whole, quality of life, the economy?
It is essential, however, that we have as many responses from the local population as possible. So one final plea: if you live in an LU postcode area and haven’t yet registered your support, you have 48 hours to play your part in helping change the town in which you live for the better, forever. And if you have already written your letter, fired off your email or filled in the form, have a think about who you know with an LU postcode and ask them to do the same.
Please have your say so that you have no regrets in the future that you didn’t act.
I’ve talked about one of the founding planks of 2020 earlier in this piece, the others are relocation, self-sustainability, connecting with the community and playing football at a higher level. These plans can do all those things and your opinion matters.
“If you want a successful future just do the RIGHT THING at the RIGHT TIME at the RIGHT PLACE for the RIGHT REASON”...That should be easy then!
Enjoy the game
Come On You Hatters