Lockyer looking for a 'fairy-tale' ending which sees Luton win promotion to the Premier League

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Town defender will have done it the hard way after Conference spell with Bristol Rovers

Hatters defender Tom Lockyer is hoping for a fairy-tale finish which sees both himself and Luton complete their journeys from the Conference to the Premier League ​by beating Coventry City in the play-off final at Wembley this afternoon.

Victory for Town would see them return to the top flight for the first time since 1992, also becoming the first side to reach the top flight after being a non-league club since the competition was rebranded the following season, Luton going to suffer relegation out of the Football League in 2009, only winning promotion back under John Still in 2014.

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Discussing the achievement that lies ahead of them, Lockyer said: ​”Conference to Premier League in 10 years, I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before.

Tom Lockyer celebrates Luton's opening goal against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second legTom Lockyer celebrates Luton's opening goal against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second leg
Tom Lockyer celebrates Luton's opening goal against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second leg

"I’m not sure too many clubs do it and the path this club has been on has been fantastic.

"It won’t be easy, but if we are able to do it then it would be a fairy-tale."

The Welsh international has had a similar rise to the Hatters, as he too was playing in the Conference back in the 2014-15 campaign when at Bristol Rovers, winning the play-offs at Wembley.

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Lockyer then moved to Charlton Athletic, before heading to Kenilworth Road in the summer of 2020, as on what it would be like to call himself a Premier League player by 9pm this evening, he continued: “It would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?

"Obviously, you don’t want to get carried away, but we’re in a great position to go for it, and we’ve not come all this way now to give up on the dream of becoming a Premier League footballer.

"So yes, that is the plan, there’s no secret, that is what we want.

"I can’t sit here and say we’re going to do it, because I don’t know that for sure, but we are going to do everything in our power to make sure we give ourselves the best chance.

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“All the fans will be aware of Luton’s journey, but I knew that as well.

"I had a similar path to Luton. We missed each other in the Conference and League Two just by one season.

"They were always there or thereabouts with each other and we’ve then ended up meeting up and it’s felt like it was just meant to be.

“My career has mirrored Luton’s and we’ve finally paired up together and if we can do that together it will be fantastic,

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"The club’s got a fantastic history. It’s in great hands now, so it’s got a bright future, for sure.

With Lockyer, like a number of Town’s squad, having to drop down the leagues to then get this chance for a crack at the top flight, it does make any success that little bit sweeter, as the Welsh international said: “Carlton (Morris) always reminds me because he’s never done the non-leagues, but I’ve had to go to some horrible away places and grind out down there.

"That’s part of my character today.

"I’ve been to those horrible places, to be able to go there and get results, and get promoted from the National League, which I think is probably one of the hardest places to get promoted from if I’m being honest – especially back then as well, where there’s only one went up.

"So yes, there are a lot of lads like that and I think that shows the hunger in the team.

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"There are only a few – Henri Lansbury, Freezy (Luke Freeman) – are the only ones who have been to the so-called promised land, so hopefully there’s a few more of us to join them.”

Should Luton manage to get past Coventry and reach the top flight, it will see Kenilworth Road come under the magnifying glass once more with the the Premier League now a global product.

It would also lead to further mentions of the entrance to the Oak Road End for away supporters, and other such features of the 118-year-old stadium, but Lockyer is used to the club not getting the recognition he feels the team deserve for their efforts on the pitch.

He said: “For us, people can say whatever they want outside the building and to be honest with you, we’ve not got a lot of credit all season for whatever reason.

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"People don’t want to see Luton and praise Luton for what we are doing, but that just works in our favour.

"Let us go under the radar, it doesn’t bother us.

"We’ll go about our business, we’ll work hard in silence and let our actions speak for themselves.

"We’re not too bothered what anyone says, to be honest.

"We’re enjoying our football, we have a great atmosphere here.

"It’s like one big family, and that’s not just like football and the playing side, that’s like the cleaners, and kitchen staff and everyone like that as well.

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"So people can say what they want, and I hope Kenilworth Road is a Premier League ground next season, that would be really nice.”

Having already gone one further than last year, Town knocked out in the semi-final by Huddersfield, Lockyer wants his team-mates to use that pain to their advantage at the home of English football, adding: “It was obviously massive hurt last season, especially the way it happened and not being able to thank the fans properly for their fantastic support all season, which hurt as well.

"I remember back to that changing room after we came in and there were tears and frustration.

"It was just a horrible feeling, so the lads who were here for that will use that going forward now.

"There are other lads who have come in who might have their own experiences as well, which will help, so overall I think it will be a positive experience.”