“Haaland is not going to go in there. He’ll do it for another fucking door we have. There is no pretty entrance here,” said the CEO of the Luton Town, Gary Sweet, to ‘The Athletic’ after eliminating Coventry City in the final of the playoff for promotion to the Premier League. Because by means of a uniform chain of townhouses the modest Kenilworth Road, a little field with almost 120 years of history and barely 10,000 seats, whose beauty lies in its simplicity. In August, after 31 years out of the English top division, a handful of seasons of lethargy in amateur football and four promotions in nine campaigns, this faithful representative of past and endangered football will taste the luxury of the Premier.
In fact, Luton lost the category in 1992, on the eve of the reorganization of the First English. Since then, this city of 200,000 inhabitants to the northwest of London, where one of the most important airports in England mainly lives, has had a thousand experiences in a thousand different categories; saved declines; he lost promotions and chained some of them; He even hit rock bottom in non-professional football in 2008, when a 30-point penalty for financial irregularities sent him to the pit of the qfifth division. There, under the umbrella of a new consortium of investors who had the particularity of being fans of the club, Luton rebuilt its lost identity, hesitated for four years in the Conference (fifth English category; the first to be regional) and returned to the Football League in 2014.
Thus, Luton returned to its habitat, to the mediocrity of the beautiful and deep-rooted professionalism in English geography. But nine seasons and four promotions later, as a humble folder on the humblest facade of Kenilworth Road says: «We are Premier League»whose translation is not necessary.
Luton Town have just won the Championship play-off final.
This is the entrance to our stadium.
— Luton Town FC (@LutonTown) May 27, 2023
Fear, silence and ecstasy at Wembley
The amalgamation of tales that surrounds the course of the hatters, a nickname that comes from the manufacture of hats that led the rise of its industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, is extensive. But this story will begin at the end, with the tragedy that preceded the uproar. your captain Tom Lockyerthe quintessential Welsh defender whose part of the body with the most touch and contact with the ball is his forehead, collapsed in the 12th minute in the playoff final in Wembley. The fans of Luton and Coventry were invaded by silence; the game that was worth a place in the Premier almost no longer mattered to anyone. However, the flagship central defender of those trained by Rob Edwards, the author of the goal that decided the victory of his team in the semifinal against Sunderland, followed the game in the hospital surrounded by his family, vibrated with the penalty shootout and celebrated Dabo’s failure from 11 meters left with rage no award to Coventry City. Luton himself was in charge of publishing Lockyer’s happiness on the club’s social networks from his room in the hospital, where he continues to undergo tests today.
Another curious case resides in the name of Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzua youth squad West Ham which in 2013 was loaned to those of Kenilworth Road. But, although the Londoner of Congolese origin arrived with an expiration date, he never left. Nine seasons later, the midfielder has become the only footballer in English football history to have completed every step of their promotion from the fifth division to the Premier League alongside his club. «I feel that I have completed football; I can retire now, “he commented between laughs at the celebration through the streets of Luton. Vital in the umpteenth promotion of those in orange, the footballer who fitted the captain’s armband to his right arm after the Lockyer scare at Wembley will go down in hatters history next year. With 367 appearances for the club, Mpanzu is just 20 matches away from being the 10th most capped player for Luton.
Meanwhile, old Kenilworth Road will dress up for the last time. It will welcome giant teams like Manchester City, huge footballers like Odegaard o Rashford, to waves of fans used to the comforts of modern stadiums who will have to cross the halls of their neighbors… In short, he will be honored by a bourgeois football that he rarely participated in. Its end is inevitably irremediable and on the horizon of 2024, at the earliest, a new stadium will take over from this old man born in 1905. However, Luton must invest 12 million euros in its remodeling. But hey, what do 12 million mean for a team that has received 200 for reaching the economic Olympus of European football.
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