Luton Town's DNA - The story behind the meteoric rise to the Premier League
Just over a week ago, Luton Town took centre stage, experiencing the bright lights of the Premier League for the first time in their history.
Of course, the Hatters have experienced top flight football before, but since the birth of the Premier League in 1992, a multitude of factors have prevented Luton from dining at the top table.
In fact, since relegation from the first division just over 30 years ago, Hatters fans have endured just about everything, from catastrophic owners and administration to title wins and Wembley glory (twice).
What the rollercoaster of the last 3 decades has taught Hatters fans however, is that what happens behind the scenes at a football club completely determines the performances on it, and at this moment in time Luton are one of the best run clubs in the country.
The people behind Luton Town’s ascent to the Premier League
"Remember this time. 5 to 5 on the 13th April. This is the rebirth of Luton Town football club." When Mick Harford addressed the players after relegation to the conference was confirmed back in 2009, even he could not have believed how right he was. Just four months later the club was officially taken over by Luton Town 2020, and the rest as they say is history.
The mind-blowing success that has followed over the next 15 years has been built on a foundation of good people, radiating positive energy throughout the football club. The days of administration were a harsh lesson for the Hatters, and under Gary Sweet’s control it is clear the lessons have been learnt.
The long term stability of the club is the number one priority for the 2020 board, rising above any footballing goals or aspirations. Never again will the future of the club be put at risk. However despite inferior spending to the majority of rivals, especially in the last couple of years, outstanding recruitment has allowed the club to punch far above its weight.
With Mick Harford as chief of recruitment, you have someone who understands everything about Luton Town, allowing the Hatters to not only bring in players with the right skillsets, but the right personalities as well. Harford and his expert team of analysts, have delivered consistently impressive acquisitions throughout the Town's rise.
But despite the additions over the years, the core of the football club has never been removed. Players like Pelly Ruddock, Dan Potts, Luke Berry and James Shea have been a constant fixture since League Two.
The board are careful not to forget where the club has been, as well as keeping the fans connected. Another way they are able to keep the squad humble and far away from any of that ‘Billy big bollocks s***’ is by bringing back ex players as coaches. Currently, eight of the first and youth team coaching staff have played for the Hatters, including many fan favourites who understand what it really means to play for Luton Town.
When you have former players like Alex Lawless and Alan McCormack around the training ground it is going to have an impact on the feeling around the club. The fans have seen these players give 100% for the club over the years and are confident they will relay this attitude to the current players.
The love for these retired players coming back as part of the coaching staff was never more evident than when Nathan Jones and Alan Sheehan trudged off after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke, in what proved to be their farewell to Hatters fans. Sheehan was the one serenaded down the tunnel, with Jones only receiving polite applause as acknowledgment for his exit.
All these factors combined have resulted in something extremely special. Over the last ten years, Luton fans have been treated to season upon season of success, and best of all, players who cared about the club. As a football fan in the stands, all you want is the 11 men on the pitch to play with the passion that you feel, something which is consistently evident in any Luton Town side.
The club has managed to maintain its DNA despite its success, a humility that would’ve been very easy to let slip away. When you have so many clubs and players disregarding their fans, Luton have been able to stay true to their roots, and bring constant success along with it.