Chris Coyne: Title win at Wrexham summed up the character we had with Luton

Chris Coyne celebrates his match-winning goal against WrexhamChris Coyne celebrates his match-winning goal against Wrexham
Chris Coyne celebrates his match-winning goal against Wrexham
Defender discusses his match-winner that saw Luton win the title

Match-winner Chris Coyne felt that the 2-1 victory at Wrexham, which sealed the League One title for the Hatters some 15 years ago today, epitomised the kind of must-win spirit that Town possessed during his time at Kenilworth Road.

The Australian centre half was in his fourth season at the club after signing from Dundee back in September 2001, snapped by then Luton boss Joe Kinnear.

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With promotion already secure, Hatters headed to the Racecourse Ground in search of the title, falling behind to Andy Holt's goal on the half hour.

However, Curtis Davies then made it 1-1 seven minutes into the second half, with Coyne thumping a header from Kevin Nicholls' free kick into the net on 59 minutes to seal the victory.

Speaking exclusively to the Luton News, Coyne, who is now based out in Australia, said: “It feels like yesterday, I was talking to Dave Bayliss recently as you keep in touch with boys that you’ve played with, it does feel like yesterday, it’s scary how quick it goes.

“I just remember we conceded quite an early goal from a set-piece and it was one of them when you’re looking at each other and going, ‘here we go.’

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“Then when Curt Davies pops up with the equaliser, from there, you could feel the momentum was building.

“We had a massive, massive support that day.

"I remember the away end was pretty much mobbed and then popping up with what turned out to be the winner was one of those days, I’ll never forget it, it was a superb moment.

“I remember the second half, it just felt like it dragged on forever and we had to dig in.

“They were fighting and scrapping for their lives at the time, and ended up going down, they fought the whole way and were really, really battling, so we had to roll our sleeves up.

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“But I think that pretty much, the whole time I was at Luton, that epitomised the group we had.

“We could play football, we had some great footballers, Jean-Louis Valois, Steve Howard, Matty Taylor, Springy (Matthew Spring), we’re talking some really silky soccer players, but I think we could mix it as well.

“We were a tough group, we were physical when we had to be.

"We could go to Swansea at Vetch Field and get a result, we could go to Plymouth away and get a result, Wrexham too, because we were prepared to win the game however it took us to get there.

“That game probably summed up that group, we could play when we had to, but when we had to be really tough and dig in, we had the ability to do that as well.”

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Luton's championship was secured when nearest rivals Hull, who they eventually finished 12 points ahead of, went down at Walsall.

Coyne admitted the players knew what they had to do, but hadn’t been kept abreast of what was happening away from Wales.

He continued: “We knew what was expected of us but we didn’t know what was going on elsewhere at the time.

"The whole way that season played out, we knew if we did our jobs, we’d put ourselves in such a good position, that if we just kept doing what we were doing, don’t worry about anyone else, that it will take care of itself.

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"It's the old cliche, three points at a time and all the rest of it, but because we were such an honest group, with honest management as well, we didn't get too far ahead of ourselves.

"We weren’t a cocky bunch, we were arrogant to the point where we had self belief, but we weren’t disrespectful.

"We believed in each other and knew what we had to do to get across the goal-line.”

On his goal in particular, which saw Coyne rise majestically to beat Red Dragons keeper, the former England and Manchester United, plus current Watford stopper, Ben Foster, he said: “Typical Luton, the centre halves carry the team all year!

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“No, it was pure coincidence, when Nico’s on the ball, and the delivery was that good, you've just got to put yourself in areas and attack the ball.

“Curtis, he was a bit younger than me, the way that he just got his head on the ball, to just guide it in, and it was a really big moment.

"I know he still speaks really highly of that moment as well, his first goal.

“I was fortunate, it was a great ball in, I just drifted off the back post and I remember running to the crowd after that.

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“I can't remember a lot afterwards, the emotions just kick in and I reckon the next 10 minutes, I couldn't tell you what happened in the game.”

It was Coyne’s fifth goal of the campaign, his most successful season in a Luton shirt, as he always felt like that chances would fall to him with the players Town possessed in their ranks.

He said: “My goals were predominantly from set-pieces, you've got people like Nico, while having an (Ahmet) Brkovic and people like that on the ball, you're always in with a chance.

"There was a lot of second balls too, because Stevie Howard was such a presence, people spent most of their time worried about Stevie.

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"Me being a sort of smaller centre half, it meant Nico could put balls in the area for me to attack and whether I got the first one on target or there was a second one, for Stevie, or someone like that, it just meant people were taking their eyes off me and it gave me those opportunities.”

With the Hatters fans packing out Wrexham's ground to celebrate Town's title triumph, Coyne added: "They packed it out, they were always good supporters.

"I remember going to the Johnstone's Paint game against Scunthorpe when I'd left the club, I got Kevin Nicholls to get me some tickets, me, the wife and my boys went.

"At the time, they could have sold Wembley Stadium out four or five times, that’s what people don't get about Luton.

"They're such a big local support, that's their club, and they're proud of it.”

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