Luton chief picks out final day win over Blackburn as his best moment in 250 games as Hatters boss

Jones knows just how important victory was to his side's progress

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 3:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 3:40 pm
Hatters boss Nathan Jones shows his delight after Town stayed up by beating Blackburn on the final day of the 2019-20 season

Town boss Nathan Jones has picked out the 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers that kept Luton in the Championship as the overall highlight from his 250 games in charge of the Hatters so far.

The 48-year-old had only returned to take over at Kenilworth Road two months earlier with the club second bottom and six points from safety, looking destined to drop back into League One with just nine games remaining.

However, Jones led them to three victories and four draws from his first eight matches to set up a decider with an already safe Rovers that Town needed to win to ensure they stayed up.

They did so thanks to first half own goals from Hayden Carter and Bradley Johnson, with James Collins scoring a penalty on the hour mark as Luton clung on to avoid a relegation which would have set the club's progress back a year according to the manager.

Having become Luton's fourth longest serving manager when surpassing Lennie Lawrence's total of 249 games during the 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night, when asked for his best moments in the dug-out, Jones said: "It’s weird because you’ve got the ones where we won 8-0 and others that were real highlights, like Notts County away, obviously getting promoted.

“It was relief when we got promoted because we believed we always were going to get promoted, but when you do it, you want to be euphoric, but you’re just drained and in tears, as everything just drains out of you.

“I loved when we went away and beat Swindon 5-0 and the second half performance was as exhilarating as you’re likely to see.

“For real highs, I think the Blackburn game was the one.

"So much hung on that. I know we beat Watford here and the fans would’ve loved that but, realistically, so much hung on the Blackburn result and that we stayed in the division.

“From being a year ahead of schedule, we would’ve actually been a year behind if we’d have got relegated.

“It just typified what the club is all about.

"When I came back in, I got a lot of credit for doing that, but the players and everyone that had been here deserved more than I did. So, they were big big things.

“But a lot of being a manager is not euphoria, it’s relief.

"When fans go mental and berserk, sometimes that’s my calmest moment.

“But there have been so many, we’ve had some real good results.

"I always enjoy celebrating with the fans. Leyton Orient away, was one of the first ones, Wycombe when we scored in 90 plus 10.

"They’re really great moments, but we’ve had so many of those, most of them have come at the Kenny as well.

"Even ones like Sheffield Wednesday away when we drew 0-0 (in the FA Cup), I knew we were a Championship side then.

“Beating (Aston) Villa 3-1 (in the Carabao Cup), it should’ve been four or five but they’d just come down from the Premier League and we were a League Two side.

"It wasn’t a typical cup game where it was backs to the wall and you nick something. We were evolving into this team that was going to get promoted.

I think we’ve had significantly more highs than lows as I look back on everything from first coming in and seeing us evolve.

"We had a 1-1 draw with Yeovil, me and Gary (Sweet), the chief exec, spoke and I said, ‘look, it’s turning’, I could see us evolving.

“Then, the following year, we recruited well and were close, we got to the play-offs.

"The next year, we were the best side in the league. I upset a few people saying that, but we were significantly better than most teams in the the league, it’s just that we didn’t win it.

“We did the recruitment to do exactly the same (in League One), but we’ve had so many good times."

Meanwhile, Jones who is well known for his pumped up celebrations with the Luton supporters following a win, which have returned in recent weeks, admitted that the personal praise isn't the reason why he love his job.

He continued: "There were so many good times, and then there’s the every day stuff, it’s the biggest thing as a manager.

“Me and my wife have an argument quite often.

"She thinks that I do it for the adulation and I don’t, it’s not why I do it. I do it for the every day things.

“When we get a win, it’s not the adulation that’s the massive thing, something clicks in the back of my mind and for a week I know I can work sanely, because we’ve just had a good win.

“It’s a crazy thing feeling when you’re a manager. There’s a lot of relief when you’re a manager, and not just euphoria.

“There are some euphoric moments, but also the real good times where you can just work sanely, and that’s why I love being at this football club, because the key relationships I’ve got are really good, sane, productive, challenging ones.

"That’s one of the best things you can have as a manager.”

Discussing the landmark of 250 games in charge, a humble Jones, who had a playing career that saw him start as a pro at Kenilworth Road, while also representing Badajoz, Numancia, Southend United, Scarborough, Brighton & Hove Albion and Yeovil, added: "If someone told me when I was 16 that I would have 23 years as a professional footballer and then reach near 300 games as manager, but 250 for this great club, I’d have bitten your hand off and retired then!

"But 250 games as a manager is a very proud thing and to do it at this club is fantastic, as we’ve had some real good managers here and I go in with quite an illustrious list of good managers.

"I’m very proud, I’m proud the club trust me enough with being able to coach the team and work with the team and I’m very proud of that because I come from a mining village in Wales.

"So from there to be able to do that, it’s a very proud moment.”