Were you there in 88? Did you celebrate Pleaty’s famous jig in 83? Does your old man regale you with tales of Boxing Day mayhem in 69 only for your Granddad to quietly trump him with his boater and rattle from Wembley in 59? As the year ends, for generations young and old there are two new numbers to add to that evocative list of Luton milestones. Because you and me mate, we were there in 14.
The iconic pairs of numbers above are important. They represent highlights and heroes and songs and TV montages that you may not have been alive to see first-hand, but that each form a little part of our Luton heritage whether your childhood favourite was Frenchy, Fozzie or Fotiadis.
Let us pack up 14 and pop it on the shelf with those that mean the most, because though we never actually had to start again from scratch like Wimbledon or (hopefully) a phoenix from the ashes of Hereford United, the two numbers that represent the last twelve months at Luton should be remembered till you’re all Grandmas and Granddads as a beginning, again.
From Gray and McNulty’s soggy-booted majesty that dragged us through our hangovers on New Year’s Day to the silencing of the drummer by Cullen at Cambridge away, last season ended in the way we had prayed it would, with Luton as Champions and a Football League club once again.
Off the pitch, historic safe-guarding of the club’s identity with Trust in Luton was followed by another first for the English professional game, with our announcement that we’d pay a Living Wage before the rest of the 92.
In iconic terms, 14 will never be 88 of course (not least because the curse of the first 20 years of a century is that you can’t start shortening the years to 2 digits until 2020 without it just looking and sounding a bit rubbish) but when we look back it will mark the start of an upturn in footballing fortunes once again for Luton Town FC, the most turbulent table-travellers of all.
2020. That’s four numbers that seemed a long way off back when they were printed on A4 pieces of paper and handed out by Loyal Luton in the Leicester Arms before the coach to Anfield in 2008; the coach trip on which we would learn that the consortium of the same name had become the club’s new custodians, as they remain today.
2014, the year we are about to leave behind like Ronnie Henry’s teeth whitener, marked the half-way point between 2008 and 2020 - the year we aspire to be back in the Championship - and the way things are shaping up this season, who would bet against us reaching that goal? It certainly feels a lot more like we're half way back than still being in division 4 should, doesn’t it...
This was a year that saw the club make changes that matched the success on the pitch with an understanding and compassion off it that suggests we can go on and grow out of this era into whatever the future holds with our soul intact, and that, brothers and sisters, is worth celebrating like champagne-sticky silverware.