Luton Town’s extraordinary ‘resurrection’

The Hatters complete a fairy tale rise from non-league to the Premier League

Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu: ‘We’re going to enjoy this one’
Luton Town players celebrate the penalty shoot-out win against Coventry
(Image credit: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Agony and ecstasy; despair and jubilation. No period in the sporting calendar brings with it such a dramatic clash of emotions as the end of the football season. And where despair is concerned, few clubs could have felt it as abjectly this weekend as Leicester City, said James Gheerbrant in The Times. Seven years ago, the “feisty Midlands club wrote the great fairy tale of the Premier League era”, when they won it after starting the season as 5,000/1 outsiders. And in their 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Sunday, they “showed the quality of a side who should have stayed up, comfortably”. But “this season has been a mess” of bad management and poor recruitment. And so it was that their victory over West Ham was not enough. Everton’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth meant that they survived at the expense of the Foxes, who, along with Southampton and Leeds, have now been relegated to the Championship.

But Leicester’s misery was Luton Town’s joy. After 31 years out of the top flight, the club joined Burnley and Sheffield United in being promoted to the Premiership, after beating Coventry in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday. The match got off to a terrible start for Luton, said Matt Barlow in The Mail on Sunday: shortly after kick-off, captain Tom Lockyer collapsed on the pitch and was rushed to hospital. It was 1-1 at full time so it went down to a penalty shoot-out, only settled – after 11 consecutive successful spot-kicks – when Coventry’s Fankaty Dabo skied his effort into the stands.

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