Hart can finally celebrate a first promotion in nearly 50 years!

Paul Hart, far left, won his first ever promotion this season
Paul Hart, far left, won his first ever promotion this season

Hatters assistant boss Paul Hart revealed he was overcome with emotion after Luton sealed what was his first promotion during almost 50 years involved with the game.

The 64-year-old started out as a defender with Stockport County in 1970, then representing Blackpool, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Notts County in what was an 18-year playing career.

It’s no fun coming second, you just park it and get on with things and try to do it better next year.

Paul Hart

He went into management, having spells in charge of Chesterfield, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Rushden & Diamonds, Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace, Swindon Town and Notts County, plus youth team roles at Leeds United, Pompey and Charlton too.

However, in all that time, he had never experienced the feeling of going up, until that is, almost a fortnight ago at Brunton Park, Carlisle.

There, Olly Lee was on target in a 1-1 draw which ensured the Hatters sealed automatic promotion to League One.

On just how he felt at the full-time whistle, Hart said: “It’s been a long time coming, 48 years, first senior accolade, but I certainly enjoyed it and I was, unusually for me, slightly overcome if you like when it happened.

“I couldn’t get up, I was all over the place, it’s stupid!

“I was obviously very pleased, very pleased for the manager and all of us that do the work, the club and the players are a great set of players.

“But I was a bit selfish I think. Right after the game, it was me, it was all about me for me and for a short while, as I’d not won a thing, 48 years, it’s crazy that, or it shows you how bad I was as a player and a manager!”

On how close he has come previously, Hart continued: “I think we finished second with Forest in the First Division, we got cheated out of a semi-final by those Belgians (Anderlecht UEFA Cup semi-final, 1984), so I could have got to a final there.

“But I don’t know, it’s no fun coming second, you just park it and get on with things and try to do it better next year.

“I had two FA Youth Cup things, I can’t even tell you if I got a medal.

“I think I was supposed to, but I’m not sure I even got it.

“I got an U21 one, we played in Italy, I played for Blackpool, and we beat AC Milan in the final.

“I do know where that medal is, it’s round my wife’s neck, she’s got it on a gold chain, that’s it, not a lot really.”

Hart didn’t even get to celebrate his first honour as much as he would have liked, as he had to leave the bus on the way back from Carlisle to make his own way home.

He continued: “I got off at Knutsford, so my celebrations haven’t begun yet, someone’s going to get it.

“It was great on the bus though, the lads were finally able to enjoy themselves and let themselves go a little bit, it was good fun.”

Town boss Nathan Jones was thrilled that Hart was able to finally achieve a lifelong ambition, adding: “He doesn’t celebrate very often, but he spent a lot of his years in the top flight, so it was difficult to get promoted from there.

“He’s had to stave off relegation with Premier League clubs, so it’s wonderful for him.

“He puts his heart and soul into it, me and him have had some arguments, but that’s brilliant.”