Kenilworth Road director's Boardroom notes
The following was written by director Mike Herrick and appeared in our official matchday programme for the match with Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday 3rd September.
Good afternoon to all at Kenilworth Road for our SkyBet League Two encounter with Wycombe Wanderers. Hopefully the atmosphere today will reflect the noise and passion which is generated in games between near neighbours.
The end of the transfer window is a time where we see many clubs change their personnel – sometimes in a great rush. It’s always best to have clear targets well in advance and we’ve been able to do this in such a way that nearly all of our new recruits have been with us for the whole of the pre-season. Sometimes, however, further possibilities become available at the end of the window and, like any forward-thinking club, we may still make a move if we feel we can improve the squad. Even ‘last minute’ signings, though, have been fully researched and scouted over a long period. In this position are Alex Gilliead from Newcastle United who we are delighted to welcome on loan until January, and Jack Senior who has signed from Huddersfield Town. They will give competition in areas that needed a little more depth. We’re very pleased to have them both and hope their stay with us will be fruitful.
In addition we have rebuffed interest from a number of clubs higher up the pyramid (currently) who covet several of our first team squad. On the other hand, we received a very good offer from Stoke City for Cameron McJannett, who played a big part in the youth team’s successful run in last season’s FA Youth Cup. With the wealth of talent at our disposal, however, we had so far not been in a position to offer him a professional contract and not wishing to stand in his way, we agreed to let him go. Cameron leaves with our very best wishes and we shall benefit from and watch his future development with interest. Also leaving is Magnus Okuonghae, who has unfortunately been unable to make the impact that we had all hoped for. The termination of his contract leaves him free to find a new home. A true gentleman, we will remember his smile which brightened the lives of all with whom he came into contact.
We still have an outstanding crop of youngsters here at present, and this is evidenced by the gradual inclusion of several into the first team squad. During our days in the Conference it would have been easy to dispense with the youth set-up. Instead, we wanted to maintain a longer-term view and so helped set up SoLYD with the aim of increasing funding of this vital work. To all those who have contributed we hope you derive great pleasure from watching our youths of all ages progress. Without your support it would not have been so easy and we really are now beginning to reap the benefits. Our grateful thanks also go to the whole of the Academy staff for their dedication and perseverance.
What delight our youngsters brought to everyone with their magnificent performance at Gillingham on Tuesday in the EFL Trophy. This competition was designed (apparently) to give opportunities to young players from EPPP1 academies. The EFL recognised that giving them exposure in more meaningful competitive games would be important to their development. That is a sentiment with which we agree – in fact we see this competition as an ideal introduction to first team football for those who we feel are ready. The trouble is that if we were to follow the rules of the competition to the letter by including at least five of the team who played in the previous or next league fixture then these opportunities would be severely limited. I think we were all secretly delighted that Nathan felt able instead to give so many their first taste of football at this level, with the board’s full blessing, of course.
Playing against a strong Gillingham side who not only had many League One starters in their side but who also brought on two more first teamers at half-time in a bid to counter our tempo, quick feet and pressing, our young team took the game by the scruff of the neck and set about them with incredible energy, enthusiasm and ability. We started with no less than seven youths and brought on more during the match – culminating in a debut for Connor Tomlinson who, at the tender age of 15 years and 199 days, became the youngest ever player to represent us in a first team fixture. To quote our CEO: ‘[Tuesday’s] game was possibly one of the proudest moments of my involvement at the club.’ High praise indeed.
It may be, however, that we’ll now be fined for fielding such a ‘weakened’ team, even though they battered a strong League One opposition. If so, then we’ll just hold our heads up high and look at it as a very worthwhile investment in our future. What a strange world we live in!
All of this brings us, inevitably, to the most important time in the history of our club. During the next two-and-a half weeks we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the face not only of Luton Town Football Club but also of Luton the town itself. Despite the years of preparations, however, this will not just happen by itself. It really does need every single supporter to invest just ten minutes and respond to the Council’s public consultation for the proposed developments at Power Court and Newlands Park. Not only that, but after you have had your say we need you to talk to friends, neighbours, work colleagues, anybody, about the enormous benefits that these plans can bring to club and town. But don’t just talk to them – insist that they make their views known as well (standing over them if necessary). We’d like you to each aim to reach 10 other people who, without you, might not otherwise respond. We know that there is overwhelming support but this MUST be translated into actual responses to Luton Borough Council. Please let’s not allow apathy to limit our progress.
The methods by which you can do this are described on page 11 in this programme and in the leaflet left on your seat but rather than just taking the word of others perhaps the best overview of the proposals can be found in the Design and Access Statements for each application. If you look at nothing else try and find time to read these. They can be found on the internet at http://goo.gl/uVmBzC
. You’ll then be in a better position to explain to others the game-changing enhancements to our club and our town.
Remember – THIS IS OUR TOWN. THIS IS OUR TIME.