For Luton Town midfielder Alex Lawless, playing in the Football League once more has made all the hard times at Kenilworth Road worth it.
The 30-year-old started his first league game since February 11, 2006, when he took to the field against Southend United on Saturday.
After spells with Forest Green and York City in the Conference before moving to Luton, Lawless said: “It’s been frustrating, but it adds to wanting it even more and adds to the enjoyment you get with it when it actually comes.
“I’ve had many complements over the years and a lot of my friends who played in the league said you’re more than capable of doing it.
“Which is really nice, but until you’ve done it, it doesn’t mean anything.
“Hopefully this is just the start of it.”
Lawless played 14 times for Torquay United during the 2005-06 campaign and admitted he had hoped to enjoy a successful career in the league.
But the midfielder was reflective of how things have worked out as he continued: “A lot of my mates were really good players who didnt manage it as well, so I was quite realistic about it.
“There are lots of opinions in football and it was just a matter of me getting my head down.
“In some ways, this is the way it was for me.
“I couldn’t be happier doing it now for Luton Town and if things hadn’t worked out like they had, I might not be playing for a club like this, so I just count myself lucky.”
Town made it four straight wins at the weekend with a 2-0 triumph over Southend and Lawless was revelling in the momentum they are now gaining after storming to the Conference title last year.
He said: “Regardless of a different league or the opposition, it’s good for us to be doing it again now.
“We’re giving ourselves the belief that we know we can do it and we’re starting to prove it.
“It’s all about confidence and getting in a habit of doing it, that’s what we’re starting here.
“Things don’t always go great, so we’ll certainly look at times like this when we’ve got our wins and use it in the future as it’s a long season.”
Hatters head to Hartlepool this weekend, knowing a win could take them into the top three for the first time this season.
Lawless is looking forward to the trip too as he added: “It’s great playing at home, with all the fans here, but we’ve got a great following away.
“So there’s a lot of pride in the camp for doing well home and away.”