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PROGRAMME NOTES | FROM THE BOARDROOM WITH DAVID WILKINSON

25 March 2019

Hatters chairman David Wilkinson penned these programme notes ahead of Saturday's game against Doncaster Rovers, in which the Hatters won 4-0.

A warm welcome to you all and especially our visitors from Doncaster Rovers. It was a close fought encounter at the Keepmoat in September, which Donny won 2-1.

We enjoyed a lot of the play and created many chances, but a deflected goal proved to be the decider after Elliot Lee had equalised with a close-range header. Donny have plenty to play for as they are currently in sixth place at the bottom end of the play-off zone with a game in hand. We look forward to an exciting game in front of another capacity crowd in the Kenny.

It has been an active few weeks both on and off the field. I must add my congratulations to Gary, Mike, Shaun and the team for their tremendous performance at the Planning Committee hearing, which culminated in permission being granted for our game changing plans at Newlands Park, and to our playing squad for bringing back four points from the recent punishing away schedule. So much in our club goes on behind the scenes that it is easy to underestimate and undervalue the work that is involved in creating what we all see – the end result.

We on the Board see some of it, maybe enough to fire our imaginations, but even that is just the tip of the iceberg. We hear reactions to the granting of planning permission on an evening in March, which was the result of years of thinking, talking, planning, learning, consulting, managing, battling, selling, promoting, financing, buying, employing, testing, analysing, defending, wishing, hoping, doubting, fearing and eventually cheering – but they can never do justice to what has gone before and we are still only just at the end of the beginning.

We reiterate that even though this is a fantastic result, there is much more to do before we can put a spade in the ground to start the stadium.

While we are on the subject of hard work, we are so proud that Collo has made the Ireland squad. It is so well deserved for his effort and determination and we are keeping our fingers crossed that he plays tonight against Gibraltar.

And then there's Pelly, what a character! Doesn't score many, but is up for 2018 goal of the season. What a cracker it was against Crewe last season! If you agree, voting closes at midnight tomorrow. He deserves it.

Tuesday was EFL Day of Action and our part in it was to hold a competition at Ely Way for our Every Player Counts Disability team. Mick, Sonny Bradley and James Shea joined in and were there to present prizes to the winners. It was a fantastic few hours and showed how football can help to bring people with all kinds of disabilities together in the fresh air, on grass to have fun and socialise. For me it was incredibly moving to see so much joy from all those involved. (For those who can, there is a great short clip on the club website, YouTube and social media channels showing some of the action).

It's probably not possible for our younger fans to realise how only a few decades ago disabilities, learning or physical, were a barrier to participating in what is now justifiably tagged the beautiful game. Many of you may have watched Harry Redknapp's Full English on TV this week and seen the forlorn distress of Paul Merson when talking of his gambling addiction.

We know that this has blighted a significant number of players over the years, and it is so encouraging that Paul and others now feel able to speak out without fear of stigma or judgement.

The players' boot and glove auction for Kids in Action raised almost £2,500, including an amazing £148 for Matty's magic hat, an old straw boater that had been lying around the media and marketing team's office for years until Matty signed it.

All these show the good that football can do towards social advancement.

"Disability is the inability to see ability" Vikas Khanna.

Finally, the tenth anniversary of our JPT win against Scunthorpe is only a week away. It has special significance for us in 2020 and, of course, Mick. There were so many reasons for making it so. It was the end of our first season as custodians of the club, which had been at the wrong end of so much adversity and injustice and was going to find itself out of the Football League. No club before or since had suffered such a punishment, but we are made of sterner stuff and 42,000 bought tickets to the Final at Wembley. At the time it was a record attendance from a single club and reminded us of our future potential.

Mick was our manager and despite a superhuman effort we had failed to make up the 30 points deducted by the FA and Football League, but we won with a squad built from scratch at the start of the season. A win, which at least temporarily lifted the gloom surrounding the club. It was an important part of our journey; a day we'll never forget and I for one am looking forward to reliving the occasion at the beginning of April.

Enjoy the game.

Come On You Hatters!


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