The Hatters associate director's programme notes
These programme notes were written by associate director, Stephen Browne, for the Plymouth Argyle edition of Talk of the Town.
(Pictured: Associate director, Stephen Browne)
Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Kenilworth Road for this afternoon’s Sky Bet League Two match against Plymouth Argyle.
Today we welcome Derek Adams, his staff, and his team, along with supporters and directors who have travelled a long way for this important clash. I’m sure the Pilgrims will want to continue their progress towards automatic promotion, whilst of course we want to win all three points to close the gap.
Since our opening day win in the south-west, Plymouth supporters have seen their team go on an excellent run so that they are now challenging for top spot. Results between us have a recent history of away wins, so let’s hope we can change that pattern today. I am sure we will be treated to a competitive and entertaining game – there’s a lot at stake!
I am afraid that my very first duty is a sad one, and must be to say a few words about our friend, supporter, and gentleman, Jack Sapsworth, who sadly passed away this week. A Vice President who was such a well-known and welcome face around the Club and Boardroom, whom we all loved.
Jack had remarkable life, but all of the Board, Vice Presidents, our partners, our hospitality and commercial teams, join in our thanks for having known Jack, and our deepest sympathy goes to his beloved family.
It is so sad when such a lovely, humble, and genuine person is taken from us. We have all lost a dear, dear Hatter. Jack gave so much to Bedfordshire, Luton and Luton Town, that we will all miss him – he touched many lives and he will not be forgotten. Please, take a moment to reflect on those that touch us, as all too often we forget to tell them.
On the pitch, we are gathering momentum and we were unlucky not to take all three points against tabletopping Donny. Also we now have a definite date for the semi final against Oxford so hopefully we carry the form forward. I know that there has been a lot of controversy around the EFL Trophy format, but we can report that the Football League is listening and so there will be discussions on the format going forward.
On the basis that our concerns are being heard then in the meantime, we would urge you to come along and support the team because any Wembley opportunity is to be grabbed with both hands by both us as supporters, and by the players who have earnt the right.
And the more noise here on 1st March, the more energy we can give the players, and the more chance we have of getting through to the final.
At the moment, we are in a good place in the League and looking to finish the season strongly. One of the highlights for me this season has not been so much what has happened on the pitch, but the force behind it. Like so many of us, I remember all too clearly those games in recent years when I have come away being so unhappy at the effort I’d seen on the pitch – maybe only by one or two, but you need all eleven in every game to be successful.
Consistently since day one of the season, I have seen Nathan’s preseason plans and preparation come to fruition in a team that always gives its all, is committed, and goes flat out to the final whistle. Not once this season have I sat in the stands thinking that someone has gone missing, or isn’t giving maximum effort.
In my view, this is all down to Nathan and his team. Nathan’s work ethic, belief in preparation, philosophy, focus, and commitment to his craft is abundantly clear to me in a team that drives, tries, and gives all.
And it rubs off – there is a buzz at the Club. Nathan – and we must never forget his team – is making his mark on our Club, and it is a delight to be part of. And as supporters we must do the same. It’s not just about cheering from the stands when things are going for or against us. It’s also about the very important matters concerning our future off the pitch.
In recent years, I have been proud of all Hatters who have stood up against the bad parts of ‘modern’ football, have demonstrated outside FA HQ, have been to the Houses of Parliament to have our issues raised, have challenged and beaten those that would treat our Club unfairly, and have only had the interests of the Club – and future generations – at their hearts. And we may need that spirit again in the not too distant future.
Whilst we are very pleased with the progress so far of the plans for Newlands Park and Power Court, these things take time and are very rarely without challenges. We can be immensely proud of the nigh on 11,000 people who supported our vision for the future of Luton, and Luton Town FC.
However, we still had a tiny handful of objections and all of these need to be addressed if we are to realise our ‘once in a lifetime’ dream of a new stadium on the land the Club now owns. If not handled correctly, these objections can become deal-breakers so we must – all of us – always be on our guard to protect our vision.
I remember thousands marching from Pope’s Meadow. I remember thousands ousting a very unsavoury character and Formula 1 ’fan’ by joining forces and getting it on TV. I remember the crowd, led by a man in a red jacket, saying ‘enough’s enough’ (more or less) and throwing season tickets into the Directors’ Box at the previous owners when they were killing our Club. I remember thousands at Anfield who could sing in unison no matter the score, because they knew a new era was about to begin.
It may well be that shortly we will need that spirit, energy, and effort again. We have to ensure our case is heard and why we believe that our vision is good for the whole town and region. We will only get this chance once, and this is our time.
Acting together we have proven we are a huge force, a fair force, and a force for future generations, for club and community. We have been delighted with your efforts so far and from so many people, but we still have a way to go – we are not over the line yet by any means.
So please, keep your support going, keep spreading the word to garner more support, and be ready to come with us on the final leg and to give 110 per cent to realise our new home. Only by putting all objections to rest will we get our new stadium and we need your voices to achieve this – every single voice will count when the time comes.
And finally, this is the first time I have written the notes from the Boardroom since an old school mate saved the life of an opposing supporter. A massive tip of my hat to you Sir!
As the excellent John Bunyan saying goes, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you”. And Matt, you did that.
As I say, I’m proud to be a Hatter.