Jordan Clark reflected on three seasons of continuous development, both personally and for Luton Town, after committing his long-term future to the club.
Clark arrived from Sky Bet League One club Accrington in the summer of 2020, having spent his career in the bottom two divisions and Non-League on loan with Chesterfield, Hyde, Scunthorpe and in permanent spells with Shrewsbury and Stanley after making six appearances in the Championship for Barnsley as a teenager.
“At the start I was very grateful to get a chance to play in the Championship,” he recalls of his signing on a free transfer in that pandemic summer of 2020, having spent four years at the Wham Stadium and always impressing in matches against the Hatters.
“Obviously doing the lower leagues hardens you up a little bit and puts you into perspective, and when you’re starting in League Two, you want to get to League One. When you play in League One, you want to get to the Championship, so when I got a chance to meet Nathan Jones at the start and see what he wanted from me, and how he was going to put me in the team and how I was going to play for this club and what he wanted for the club, it just sounded great.
“Everything since then has gone really well. It’s been an upward trajectory for the club and for myself, if I’m honest. I didn’t start off playing amazingly, but I sort of grew into the years that I’ve been here and the confidence has come and now, with the new deal, it’s all about timing I believe.
“The club is probably at the best it’s been for a long time and I’m probably playing the best football of my career. So to commit to another long contract here is great, and I just can’t wait to see what’s next.
“With the new manager, Rob, coming in it’s been great. He’s very similar to Nathan in that he’s very energetic, very positive around the place and he’s stamped his ideas on us with the coaching staff, but I just feel like we are in a real, real good place and the lads are relishing every game that comes now.
“We’re looking forward to the end of the season, and playing – fingers crossed – in the play-offs and hopefully going one better than we did last year.”
The 29-year-old midfielder sampled the famous Kenny atmosphere as a visiting player in Accrington Stanley’s battles with the Town in the League Two promotion winning season, for both clubs, and then in League One.
Clark said: “The first year I got to the Championship it was disappointing if I’m honest because I played at the Kenny before and I always said, and I genuinely mean this, it was the hardest ground to play at, especially when we played here for Accy and you beat us 4-1 and it was like, ‘Wow – this atmosphere!’
“It was 1-1 at half-time and then you scored really early in the second half and it was like ‘Whoofh!’ Then it was three and four, and we just couldn’t live with it.
“The first season was disappointing because I wanted to experience that. Then when fans were allowed back in it was great, we loved it. We gave them something to get behind with the successful season, and we just missed out.
“Now, in my third season, we are doing it again and I just feel that every year is improving. We are improving by the year, and that was the big thing for me in signing again. Why go anywhere else when I really love this club and I can see it improving all the time?
“The people who work here are just top people, they can’t do enough for you to make everything easier for you and give you the best to make you play your best on a matchday.
“My partner, Chelsea, and my little boy, George, are all settled down here now and that is obviously a massive thing.
“But I just love being here. I love playing in front of the fans and the big thing for me is this squad, these lads. If we can keep everyone together, because fingers crossed this season is going to be a really exciting end to the season, who knows what’s going to happen?
“That’s the best thing about football. We don’t fear anyone and we are just excited. The feel-good factor is there.”
What has struck Clark in recent weeks is the backing he and his team-mates have received with tremendous ovations following games that haven’t ended in victory, with the narrow defeat to leaders Burnley and the fightback from 2-0 down to draw with Millwall.
“I think back to the Watford game, which was the most disappointing of the season, but the fans stuck by us at the end, which just shows you what they are about,” said Clark. “That was a massive game and a massive disappointment, but the fans just back you every week because they can see how hard you’re working and this group of lads would run through brick walls for each other, and for all the staff, the fans and everyone at this club, because it means so much to us.
“There is something there at the end of the season where we can achieve something special. We’ve just got to be more consistent and keep doing what we are doing, and we won’t be far away.”