When Coventry City’s Fankaty Dabo fired his penalty over the crossbar in the 2022-23 Championship play-off last, euphoria stuffed one half of Wembley Stadium.
Luton Town had ended their 31-year wait to be a Premier League membership, finishing their journey from non-league to the prime flight.
Just a row behind fellow Luton legend Mick Harford, former Hatters midfielder Alan West embraced his son Josh.
Luton have been back in the big time.
Almost 50 years after he swapped Burnley for Bedfordshire, remaining concerned at the membership after they have been relegated from the Football League in 2009, West had seen the exceptional rise of a membership he as soon as represented.
“I was [Luton’s] chaplain through that very difficult period when they were relegated and they went all the way down to the Conference,” he defined.
“And then now, in fact, [they have got] all the manner back up. It is kind of a tremendous story and journey.
“Getting promoted has simply put a smile on folks’s faces. People weren’t in soccer.
“Luton has acquired a whole lot of dangerous press, however now it’s got some good press. And that is all to do with the soccer membership.
“There’s been a superb spirit and angle in the city in the previous few weeks, proper the manner via from native council to faculties to children. Everybody is actually excited.”
‘Kenilworth Road has barely modified’
West, 71, hails from Hyde in Greater Manchester and started his profession with Burnley in 1967. He spent six years in claret and blue earlier than swapping it for the orange of Luton in 1973.
The Hatters’ stadium, Kenilworth Road, was meant to be the setting for Luton’s inaugural house Premier League conflict in opposition to West’s former membership, earlier than it was postponed.
Amid the scrutiny, the former midfielder gave an perception into what the stadium was like throughout his taking part in days.
“The fact is, it is barely modified,” West revealed.
“That’s simply the manner it’s. Back in the day, it was only a regular, common soccer floor and many the outdated grounds have been constructed in built-up areas. So there are terraced homes round a number of the outdated stadiums back in the day.
“But in fact, at this time, with all of the new fashionable stadiums, issues are very, very totally different.
“I believe they’ve put a few roofs over the place folks sit, however actually aside from that, and a lick of paint right here and there, it is about the similar.
A model new bespoke house for the city’s soccer crew has additionally been floated over the years, with a website in the coronary heart of the metropolis beforehand being recognized as the superb location.
“Hopefully they’ll also start preparation now for the new stadium,” added West. “[That] has been in the pipeline for the previous few years – virtually for so long as I’ve been round!
“I keep in mind once I first got here from Burnley [they said]: ‘We’ve acquired the plan for a brand new stadium quickly.’ Here we’re, 50 years later.
“But it looks now like it will happen, soon rather than later. That’s very exciting for the town and for the club.”
‘I understand how laborious it’s to keep at this degree’
Before their inaugural Premier League season, Luton recruited quite a few new first-team gamers.
Midfielders Ryan Giles and Marvelous Nakamba have been added to Rob Edwards’ squad together with wing-back Issa Kabore, whereas final season’s prime scorer Carlton Morris put pen to paper on a brand new deal at the membership.
Morris scored Luton’s first-ever Premier League purpose in the Hatters’ 4-1 loss away to Brighton on the opening weekend, a end that continues to be their just one to date this season, following the postponement of their conflict in opposition to Burnley.
On Friday, although, they journey to Stamford Bridge to face a lavishly-assembled Chelsea outfit.
“Obviously, it is a massive challenge to stay in the Premier League. It is the best league in the world,” stated West.
“My hope could be that Luton keep in the Premier League this season, by the pores and skin of their tooth. I do not care how they keep up, I simply need them to keep up. And then get on with the new stadium and that provides then a catalyst for the future.
“They can then compete after which you may maintain constructing on that. If they will keep in the Premier League, even when they’re fourth, fifth from backside, they’re nonetheless in there after which you may construct on that then. You can construct on that strong basis.
“I’ve performed in the equal of the Premier League back in the First Division in 1974-75 and we ended up third from backside and sadly have been relegated. So I understand how powerful it’s to keep in that degree.
“I believe they’re set now as a membership, with an excellent mindset and an excellent imaginative and prescient and set of values that may maintain them in good stead.”