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Match Previews

Match Preview | And so it begins with Brighton

It's Brighton and Hove Albion versus Luton Town in the Premier League

11 August 2023

Match Previews

Match Preview | And so it begins with Brighton

It's Brighton and Hove Albion versus Luton Town in the Premier League

11 August 2023

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PREAMBLE

We are Premier League. Mad isn’t it. Let it sink it. It’s actually happening. On Saturday we’re going to Brighton and Hove Albion to play a football match in the top-flight of English football. Non-league to Premier League in nine years? Some are calling it the most incredible story in football. As Luton fans, we wholeheartedly agree. Can you genuinely believe it? Imagine tweeting or telling those around you on the terraces of Southport, Braintree and Alfreton that by 2023 we’d be in the Prem. Inconceivable at the time.

We are Luton Town. It’s easy to get carried away with the comparisons. The defeats to Hyde and Gateshead, etc. However, the hard work never ceased. We kept going. Trusted the process. Most importantly, you – yes YOU, and your mates, your brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, anyone who would listen for that matter – stuck by Luton Town Football Club. Therein lies the beauty. We’re back. But the journey has only just begun.

11,424 days later. Helluva lot of days, that. 31 years, three months and 10 days ago, 5,000 of you went to Nottingham. Hopes, dreams and expectations all shattered by Rob Matthews. Who’d have thought it? The last time we played in the top-flight, the defeat consigned the Town to relegation. “We’ve gone from Division One to Division One,” you told you mates. It wasn’t funny, though was it? Lots has happened since. The beauty of being a Luton fan, eh?

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Top-flight pedigree. Football existed before 1992, you know. And we were there. There at the top table for 16 seasons. 658 games in fact. Of those we’ve won 213, drawn 168 and lost 277, scoring 863 times and conceding 1,011.

The Long Wait. Those who have followed the Hatters over, land and sea and…. have been waiting a while to see the Town triumph on their travels in the top tier of English football. David Pleat’s side of 1991/92 failed to win away from home, so you need to go back to 9th March 1991 and a 2-1 win at Aston Villa for the last time we tasted three sweet points away from home in the top-flight. It’s time.

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THE MATCH

When Seagulls follow the trawler. Easy to forget our first opponents in the Premier League are a club who have, like us, had their fair share of ups and downs over the past 30 years. Brighton almost dropped out of the league and were survived thanks a winner-stays-up victory at Hereford on the final day of the 1997/98 season. Slowly but surely, they’ve recovered, via the Withdean and bucket loads of Bobby Zamora goals, to a brand-new stadium and a sixth place finish in the Premier League last season. Some progress that.

No easy games. Nobody, absolutely nobody, said “winnable first game” when the fixtures were announced. Sure, it’s a lovely opener. Down by the coast. New stadium to tick off. Sun (probably not) shining. Great city. But the Seagulls are a very decent outfit. Sixth last season, they were FA Cup semi-finalists, and are a team playing mesmerising football under Roberto Di Zerbi. All the neutrals were raving about the Albion, so the Hatters have a real test on their hands down at the Amex.

The what? The Amex, the American Express Community Stadium, and Brighton’s home since 2011. Inside 30,666 blue seats await bums to be sat on. 3,001 of those occupied by those of an orange persuasion. It’s our first visit to the ground and remember if you don’t have a ticket, you’re not getting in: the allocation for Town fans has already sold out.

10 good things to know.

  • Take advantage of the free travel zone (click here).
  • Taking a bag inside? It needs to be A4 in size or smaller.
  • Solid containers and flasks are not allowed inside, with clear plastic water bottles or lower permitted, with the tops off.
  • It’s a cashless stadium – that rogue fiver won’t be any use.
  • Turnstiles open at 1pm.
  • The Amex is a no smoking stadium.
  • Bringing a flag? You need to ask the Albion first – services@bhafc.co.uk.
  • There are no designated away pubs for Town drinkers.
  • If you see, hear, or experience any anti-social behaviour call 07880196442.
  • Click here for an extensive travel overview, supplied by our friends at Brighton.

Taking the train? Please be advised that there is planned industrial action on the rail network this weekend, so plan your journey in advance so you’re not racing to the ground sweating with panic as kick-off fast approaches.

Don’t be *that* fan. A reminder to all supporters, no matter who you are, how old or who you’re supporting on the day, to go about your day with respect. Once again, all clubs up and down the land are supporting the Love Football, Protect the Game campaign. Any anti-social behaviour, inappropriate chanting or gesturing, or general bad and simply uncalled actions could land the club a hefty fine – as was the case for some clubs last season. Stay humble. No Billy Big Balls.

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Haven’t we met before? Yes! 97 times to be precise. You’re probably thinking that that Johnstone’s Paint Trophy penalty shootout win in 2009 was the last meeting but the 1,000-odd who were at the Checkatrade Trophy match at Kenilworth Road in 2018 will tell you differently – although the opposition were Albion’s under-21s. Overall it’s 37 wins from 97 but away from home the Town haven’t traditionally enjoyed their trips to the south coast. Just six wins from 49, losing 30. But that’s history, right? Not since January 1983 (!) have the Town tasted victory at Brighton, with two Ricky Hill goals helping us to a 4-2 win. Future Hatters hero Steve Foster was playing for Brighton that day, too.

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From Rob. “We feel ready and I’m proud to be here,” he said. “You don’t really think about it in the moment because you’re always thinking ‘what’s next?’ and it’s hard in football to take stock and reflect on achievements. I’ve found it difficult to think ‘oh, that was good’ but I am extremely proud to be a Premier League manager and it’s been an aim of mine for a long, long time. Everyone in football is ambitious and we all want to work at the highest level, and I think everyone would agree that the Premier League is the highest level at the moment, but none of us have got a crystal ball and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Town team news. There was disappointing news from last weekend’s trip to Germany as Jordan Clark and Dan Potts both sustained ankle injuries against Bochum, ruling the pair out “for a few months” according to Edwards. The duo join Gabe Osho and Reece Burke on the sidelines and therefore the quartet are all unavailable this weekend.

Tune in, turn on. Full audio commentary will come from the lips of Simon Pitts on Hatters Player – a reminder now we’re in the Premier League (sorry) that games are no longer streamed on what was iFollow. Follow our social media @lutontown for live updates, photos and behind-the-scenes content and stay on lutontown.co.uk for a full report and post-match reaction.

And finally. Enjoy the ride. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Win, lose or draw, just remember who we are and where we’ve come from. Come on Luton.

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