They say a week is a long time in football. Last Saturday, we left the Brewers of Burton, dejected and regretful with faint fears of what was required of us against an in-form Oxford today.
All this, not realising that, looking back to a momentous Tuesday night, we would be already promoted courtesy of a midweek Posh win at Pompey – leaving today’s still important festivities to be a battle between ourselves and fellow promotion partners, Barnsley, for the title.
What a week! What a season!
Where do I start to sum it up? Our heroic manager who finished the job; the passionate manager who started it; our talented squad of players; our tirelessly diligent staff; you wonderful and loyal supporters; the electricity of Power Court or the innovative Newlands Park?
Just listing them all is exhausting, as our season has been! And who deserves the credit?
One thing is for certain, it isn’t just the team of eleven, or the wider playing squad. Neither is it just the coaching staff or members of the board. It’s not even just the whole workforce within club.
Our team spreads far and wide to include the entire positively energising support base, the families of those who go above and beyond, the council, sponsors, suppliers and business partners - right through to the town, county and outwards to all quarters. The whole community getting behind us, all having the faith, all believing, following our culture of doing it right, fairly, honestly and inclusively of all persuasions and diversities, united on the same journey with one, single aim. Promotion and a bright (orange!) new future.
Promotion campaigns are tough, demanding and draining. Back to back promotions simply can’t be achieved without a strong belief and firm focus, operating on a strong foundation of a culture where no one individual takes the credit, or blame.
Everything we do – all the successes (and the failures) are not the work of one man or woman and no one person should be given sole credit for any of our achievements.
We have got to this stage by fulfilling a set of ethical principles we firmly believe in. We continue to pay the Real Living Wage to all employees. We continue our commitment to the progression of women and minorities in football, and aiding community cohesion in our ethnically and culturally diverse town - so that all Lutonians can live happily side by side regardless of race, religion or political beliefs. We avoid the promotion of gambling to minors while promoting Kenilworth Road as a family environment – as shown this week by our second successive Gold Award for EFL Family Excellence. To name but a few initiatives.
Becoming a Championship club will categorically not change who we are. We absolutely will not compromise these valuable moral cornerstones for sporting ambition - and we absolutely believe that our sporting ambition will not be compromised by adopting this ethical position.
This season has proved that we can still recruit the best players and play attractive, winning football in unison with our solid, sensible and sustainable foundation. Throughout the season we have played some breath-taking football, scored some fantastic team goals and gone on a record breaking 28 game unbeaten run. This was started back in October admirably by Nathan and our highly professional team of staff and players, getting us to 13 games before he departed in January.
We thank Nathan for his tireless, committed and detailed work during his tenure. Mick then took the reins for the hard slog and led us to his hometown Club and into the first battle, at Sunderland. He kept the ship steady in the following months, which has enabled us to come into today’s game, at Mick’s adopted home, with excitement and a chance of being crowned champions of League One. So, whatever the result today, the credit must be shared among the entire, wider team.
Please start by patting yourselves on the back for your positive, constructive contribution and then loudly laud your heroes who’ve scored the goals and stopped the goals - just as it should be!
It is only with an even more united, more intensive spirit that we will be able to survive in the Championship, and this spirit will be our most lethal weapon. We go into next season with a new stadium in our sights, a new manager at the helm for us all to get behind and a new challenge in a league that will be tougher than anything we’ve faced since 2020 took custodianship of this wonderful Club.
But believe me when I say, we are ready. Preparation started years ago for this – and weeks ago in earnest. We now have another, steeper mountain to climb - with a new, even steeper, taller mountain ahead, which has become visible by reaching this peak.
On a personal note, I’m a deeply proud man to stand beside my fellow board members and deeply proud to stand linked in arms with our staff, players and you!
Let’s build on these successes! Let’s not fall back! Let’s make our foundation a solid one so we can entertain you with even more skill and excitement next season and beyond.
Have as much fun as you can soak up today – you all deserve it!