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05/06: Preview: Luton Town
Opposition opinion
by the Betfair Madhatter

What happened last season?
Well - we all know what happened, and I guess you Watford boys looked more closely than most of the others!

However, I defy anyone to come up with a reason for the change in fortunes. Even the staunchest and most blinkered (stupid?) of us could never have foreseen a season like it. Almost out of business a year earlier. Strapped for cash as always. Worst ground in the league - how bad must Gillingham's be to stop us winning that vote!?

But hopeful of a playoff place? Well, maybe. But to win the first six games in a row? To win ten and draw the other two out of the first dozen? To be top from 21st August for the whole season (bar 3rd March)? To Win 29, Draw 11, Lose 6, GD +39, Pts 98? Unbelievable!

Highlights of last season...well nearly every game really, but personally it was the winner from Brko in the last minute at home to Hull, just when it looked like the Tigers were going to hang on for a 0-0 draw. Also the 4-2 victory over Brentford (incidentally my choice for League One honours this coming season @ 20-1), as we were 1-2 down at the 86 minute mark! To win that one and then be presented with the League trophy after the match was the best feeling I've had as a Town supporter since Luton 3 Arsenal 2 in the 1988 Littlewoods Cup Final! On a player basis, I have to pick out the outstanding progress of Curtis Davies, the best defender in League One (as voted for by the PFA) at the age of just 20.

Lowlights - the abysmal performance when live on Sky (v Barnsley) and not winning the last game of the season at Donny to reach 100 points!

What's going to happen next season?
After Luton's magnificent season I can happily report that every key first team player from last season has signed a new contract plus we have bought Rowan Vine from Portsmouth (he was only on a season long loan last year). Only other signing so far is a 24-y-o Wrexham (and Trinidad & Tobago international!) winger called Carlos Edwards, although several trialists are in training with the first team squad at the moment. I have had a fiver on us on betfair at the insulting (and very generous!) odds of 89-1. How Hull (12 points behind us last season) and SheffWed (26 points in arrears) can be only half the price I do not know. They need some major improvement to match us. Similarly, if you were to put any of last season's championship teams (that are still in it this season) into Luton's division last season then I doubt very much that they could have got near to Luton's performance in reaching 98 points. So, optimism and hope rule the day as always - as I guess it is for all of you others out there. However, I'm a firm believer in that you MUST have a good/lucky start to the season and our first three games are C Palace (a), Southampton (h) and Leeds (h)...

A major factor in last season's runaway success was definitely the fact that we had TEN players that played in 37 or more of the 46 league matches....there is no way that we can be so lucky with injuries for a second successive season! But I'm certainly expecting a top half finish and, with luck and a couple of good signings to cover the midfield, we could be pushing for the top half dozen places or better. I really do believe we will do well again this season, being able to field all of the same squad that was patently too good for League One last year, as well as signing the three new lads.

Key worry (apart from maybe losing Davies and Foley in the transfer market) is whether Beresford's back operation has been 100% successful, as he is a truly excellent keeper, and the defence is so much more confident with him behind them than anyone else.

Finally......Oh what a balls-up! As I type these notes, the website announces that the Luton Town Ticket Office (a large, candlelit shed just outside the ground) is currently having some 'technical problems' and is out of action.....first home game is nearly here (9th August) - and no-one can buy a ticket!

All the best to everyone this season, even you Watford boys!

Soundbites(from assorted census correspondents)

"Your questionnaire started off ok, but got crap towards the end with stupid questions, but after all you are w****** fans!!!!!!!" (lots along these lines - ed)

"I like Jam"