Luton Town
Nathan Jones did what he was brought back to do and kept Luton Town in the Championship. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

THE TOWN ARE STAYING UP!!!

THE TOWN ARE STAYING UP!!!

AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA BELIEVE US,

AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA BELIEVE US,

AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA BELIEVE US,

THE TOWN ARE STAYING UP!!!

In case you haven’t heard Luton Town will be plying their trade in the EFL Championship next season after overcoming former Premier League Champions Blackburn Rovers by three goals to two on Wednesday. With Leeds beating Charlton the win meant even with Barnsley beating Brentford and Wigan drawing with Fulham Luton’s faith was purely in their own hands. But in typical Luton fashion, they made even single fan sweat. I looked at my Fitbit with five minutes to go and my heartbeats per minute was 102. To put this into context my resting bpm is 72 and when at work the highest it can get is 87/88 bpm. To put it simply I was a nervous wreck.

Luton Town
Sonny Bradley and James Bree celebrate after Luton’s second goal. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

I’ve seen a lot on my timeline this past week about promotion and relegation and the calls for it in the American game. One thing it does add is excitement. Right now in Major League Soccer if you don’t make the playoffs (in a regular season and not during a pandemic) there is really no consequence. Nothing to make those final few games mean something. It’s just a case of better luck next year. With promotion and relegation, there is the chance one team in any given game has everything to play for and that makes it nail-biting especially if it’s your team who have everything to play for as was Luton’s case on Wednesday night.

The morning of the game I woke and had a light breakfast but the nerves were too much and that came back up quickly. This was four hours before a ball was even kicked. I must have paced the house a thousand times and checked my watch a million times before finally it was 11:30 am and time for the real nerves to begin. Ten minutes in we were 1-0 down. For the millionth time this season, we didn’t deal with a ball into the box and Adam Armstrong made us pay. If we were to go down and least we did it being consistent even if it was consistently bad at something. But this is Luton Town and nothing is ever as straight forward as that.

Luton Town
James Collins slots home Luton’s third from the spot. Ultimately the goal that kept the Hatters in the Championship. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

If you’ve read any of my other articles I’m sure you’re aware I’m not exactly a religious person but if I was I would be praying to the Church of Luton Town. After 15 minutes I was on my knees hands pressed together. I wasn’t reciting hail Mary’s are our father’s but rather begging for something… anything… to spark a comeback and finally it paid off after 28 minutes when a James Bree free-kick from the left kissed a ton of Luton heads but was directed into his own net by Hayden Carter. It doesn’t matter how they go in as long as they go in!

At the same time, Leeds United scored their second of the night against Charlton which meant a draw was enough to keep Luton up, but with Barnsley still goalless at Brentford, we couldn’t rest on our laurels. As Simon Pitts kept telling us on commentary there would be many more ups and downs before the night was over. Thanks for calming the nerves, Simon. Appreciate it! In fairness, though he wasn’t wrong as Luton took the lead seven minutes after the equalizer as James Bree’s corner was somehow turned in. Luton defender Sonny Bradley celebrated like he had gotten the last touch but it ended up being given as a Bradley Johnson own goal. Again, It doesn’t matter how they go in as long as they go in!

Luton players celebrated at the final whistle. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

Then just as my butthole is starting to slowly unclench Barnsley go and score against Brentford. Here are the ups and downs Simon was telling us about all night. Suddenly it was imperative Luton held on at all costs. Technically we were still outside the relegation zone as Wigan’s points deduction would see them join Hull and Charlton as things stood, but that is pending an appeal and as Luton fans, you can forgive us for not wanting to leave our faith in the hands of the Football League. We’ve been burned far too many times. Needless to say, there is a reason why the flag below is represented at every home game.

The fifteen-minute half time break seemed like a lifetime especially when you are pacing the house like a madman (I got my 10,000 steps in today and then some). Leeds get a third against Charlton but Barnsley is still winning, meaning the foot can’t come off the gas. We needed to play smart but considering our horrendous defending at points this season (we had the second worse goals conceded record in the league) we also needed a third goal. Up step James Collins.

Sonny Bradley
Captain Sonny Bradley at the final whistle. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

After some lovely passing sent Harry Cornick into the Blackburn box, his run was abruptly ended as he was bundled over, leaving the referee no choice but to point at the spot. There was only one man going to take the penalty, and only one man I trusted to take it. Kinda. Sort of. Ok, I didn’t watch the penalty. I couldn’t. I turned my back to the screen, hands-on-head, and waited for Simon’s reaction. He went mental. I went mental. Luton fans around the world went mental. Suddenly there was breathing space. With 60 minutes gone and 30 to play Luton were leading 3-1 and controlling theIr own destiny. But remember… ups and downs.

Why do I say that!?! Because fifteen minutes later it was 3-2 as Sam Gallagher pulled one back for the visitors. Charlton were dead and buried against Champions Leeds United, losing 4-0, but Barnsley were holding on to a 1-0 lead at Promotion chasing Brentford. While a draw would see us leapfrog Charlton, the Barnsley result would mean we’d only be safe by virtue of Wigan’s point deduction. Should their appeal be successful and their deduction is overturned we would be playing League One football next season. The only way to take it out of the hand of the football league was to hold on for fifteen minutes plus whatever stoppage time the officials deemed necessary.

It turned out to be 22 minutes including the time added on and it felt like an eternity. Danny Hylton could have (and probably should have) put the game beyond doubt with a fourth but the players defended like their lives depended on it and ultimately they did. Gary Sweet was not shy in saying the financial pitfalls of relegation would hurt the club drastically and if that happened a lot of those players would have been looking for new employment with a very below-average season behind them. Some may still have to do that as the rebuild begins now for next season but for those last 22 minutes, they fought and clawed and battled for every ball and etched their names in Luton folklore just like last year’s League One winning side did.

Gary Sweet is making the right moves to preserve Luton Town’s future

When the final whistle went the emotions overcame me, I’m not afraid to admit, just like they did the players, coaches and staff. Nathan Jones leaped into Mick Harford’s arms and then went to go running up the touchline towards where the Luton fans would be. There were none there of course as COVID-19 meant Luton’s great escape was witnessed by thousands of fans worldwide but none inside Kenilworth Road. It didn’t matter though. We were all there in spirit celebrating and signing in unison “Nathan Jones Barmy Army”. Bridges have been built. Roads to a brighter future paved. Luton Town are staying up. Just reading it brings a tear to my eyes.

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🧡 WASU #COYH‬

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