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  1. ITV Report

Luton Town: The famous old club on the brink of the most glorious redemption

April 13 2009. A day no Luton Town fan will ever forget.

It was the day that the Hatters dropped out of the Football League for the first time in 89 years following a goalless draw against Chesterfield at Kenilworth Road.

Hit by a crippling 30-point deduction by the Football League before a ball was even kicked that season, they hardly stood a chance.

As it was, they managed to stay in contention right until the fourth from last game of the campaign but the mountain was just too steep to climb.

It was the cruelest of blows for everyone connected with the club, but especially for the fans who had stuck with their team and continued to turn up in their numbers week after week.

Since that day, the Hatters have been on a mission to repay their supporters for their loyalty and now they stand on the brink of doing exactly that.

Luton dropped down to the Conference in 2009. Credit: PA

Currently on a club record 28-game unbeaten run, Luton find themselves seven points clear of second-placed Sunderland and on the cusp of sealing back-to-back promotions - an achievement that would go down as one of the finest in their 134-year history.

A combination of young, exciting players and experienced professionals has seen them take League One by storm.

Talismanic striker James Collins has had the campaign of the his life, netting 22 goals and being named the division's Player of the Season, while dynamic full-backs James Justin and Jack Stacey have also been instrumental in their success.

James Collins has been in prolific form for Luton. Credit: PA

That's not to say that there haven't been setbacks.

Manager Nathan Jones was practically hero-worshipped by supporters after guiding Luton to promotion from League Two last season, but when Championship club Stoke City came calling in January, he couldn't resist their advances.

His departure was seen as a hammer blow for the Hatters' promotion chances, but fans needn't have worried.

In Mick Harford, they had a ready-made, if a little reluctant, replacement ready to step in and take over the reins on an interim basis until the end of the campaign. They haven't lost a game since.

For Harford, who was in charge the day Luton were relegated in 2009, taking the club to the Championship wouldn't completely heal those wounds, but it would certainly go a long way towards putting a few demons to rest.

Harford keeps a watchful eye over training. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"If we can achieve that (promotion) it would be something special for myself, for the players especially, for the 2020 board, and more so for the fans," he told ITV News Anglia.

"They've supported the club through thick and thin. It would mean everything."

Having emerged through such a testing period, nowadays the future could hardly look brighter.

The club have recently been given planning permission to build a new stadium, meaning their long-standing dream of moving away from the rundown surroundings of Kenilworth Road could soon become a reality.

Their famed academy is continuing to do them proud as well. In fact, two of the three players on the shortlist for the EFL Young Player of the Year award (James Justin and Max Aarons) had come through Luton's youth set-up.

Other academy products like Jamal Lewis at Norwich City and Bristol City's Jay Dasilva are also playing starring roles in the Championship on a regular basis.

The smiles are back on the faces of everyone connected with Luton Town. Credit: PA

Everything seems to be in place for the club to not only reach the second tier, but to eventually thrive there.

On Saturday, they travel to Charlton Athletic, a club who themselves have experienced some real lows in recent years but appear to be on their way back.

Victory at the Valley wouldn't mathematically secure promotion, but it would mean that the finishing line would be so close that they could almost touch it.

And for those who believe in fate, just look at Saturday's date: April 13 2019...

  • Watch an interview with interim manager Mick Harford