A warm welcome to everyone here at Kenilworth Road today for what promises to be one of the most memorable afternoons in the club’s history.
Firstly, I’d like to extend the welcome to our visitors from Oxford United. We have witnessed many exciting games between us over the years, but the one that sticks in my memory was the 2-1 victory in our first season in the Conference when Keith Keane scored direct from a corner in injury time. If late drama like that bring us the League One title today, what a fantastic end it would be to an unforgettable campaign!
I can’t believe it’s that time already. The season nearly over, but what a season! In my 60 years I can’t remember a better one. Some incredible football, an amazing squad who richly deserve all the plaudits they have been getting, a Club in great shape off the field with approval for a new stadium to give us a sustainable future and enable us to compete at a higher level and be fit for purpose in the modern game.
We have an extraordinary history, and I am so glad that Peterborough’s win on Tuesday night brought me back on level terms during my time supporting the Hatters – I have now seen nine relegations and nine promotions!
It’s been said that “We have to accept that sometimes we’re the pigeon and sometimes we’re the statue.”
Football is so much about reminiscing and remembering having witnessed special moments and wonderful players. When we look back this will be high on the list. Records have been broken and we have gasped at the quality of some of our football. It wasn’t expected, which makes it all the more special.
Can I congratulate all those who have won awards for their outstanding achievements this year. Mick Harford became our person of the hour for standing in so gallantly and professionally when Nathan departed. The word legend is bandied about rather profusely these days, but Mick is one of the old school. He is a shining example of all that is great about football and I’m proud to know him, proud of him for the job he has done in overseeing this promotion.
Magnificent Jack Stacey, Pelly, Shinnie, JJ and Moncur all deservedly picked up awards from the Luton Town Supporters’ Trust on Sunday evening and Collo and JJ were in the League One team of the year at the PFA awards on the same night.
Well done to all of them, but how often have we said this year that we couldn’t pick a man of the match because it was a team effort. Everyone chipped in.
Shea with record numbers of clean sheets, our two magnificent centre-halves, Elliot Lee and Harry Cornick providing power, pace and finish, fantastic cameos from Kaz and Cummings – and what a return from injury by Luke Berry! Sadly, there are those who have missed out through injury, but they have all played their part in maintaining the squad togetherness and team spirit.
Thanks to Sheehan, Macca, Glen Rea, Danny and Pottsy – and all those I haven’t mentioned by name – for their patience and support. It is so easy for frustration and disappointment to infect a dressing room, particularly with the larger squads these days, that the character of that group is so important.
Next year we will be 135 years old; 135 years of drama, entertainment, despair, joy, courage, corruption and generosity. We have been all the way to the top (briefly) and below the bottom in Football League terms, but the club has made it this far and our job is to do all we can to put it in the right shape to not just survive, but prosper for the next 100 years and more.
The heart of the Club is you and our greatest motivation is to refresh and expand our supporter base within our community.
“We are Luton Town we really are.”
Before I finish, a word about our CEO. The other night at the LTST awards Gary won the Kevin Catlin (Tiddles) Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to LTFC. Gary, with help from others, fought many battles to wrest control of the club from people who mostly “didn’t deserve to wear the shirt”, and put us all together to create 2020 and sell us the vision. The mission was to have a new stadium and be in the Championship by 2020. Gary’s commitment, passion, imagination and sheer dogged hard-work and persistence make him a well-deserved recipient of this award.
A lot has and will be said ahead of today’s game. I know we are good enough to finish the job and win the league and believe we will. Even if we hadn’t already sealed promotion, nothing would diminish my love and affection for this fantastic football club, which is on the up. We have so much to look forward to over the next few years both on and off the pitch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.
“Success is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom”
Enjoy the game and have a great Summer.
Come On You Hatters!
(*These notes were written for the matchday programme v Oxford United on Saturday 4th May 2019)