Promotion means that little bit more to Town’s own ‘Luton boy’
Winning back-to-back promotions to the Championship with the Hatters has meant just that little bit more to homegrown defender James Justin.
The 20-year-old has been at Kenilworth Road for almost a decade now, along with centre half Frankie Musonda.
During that time, Justin has seen Town lose their Football League status in 2009, when they were deducted 30 points, meaning they had little chance of survival.
That season, they also won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy before after five long years in the Conference, they returned to League Two.
Although Justin didn’t manage to play a part in either of those successes, he remembers them well, while the right back has become a major player in their rise up the footballing echelon ever since.
He said: “Of course, me and Frankie have come from U11s, come all the way through into the first team.
“Frankie hasn’t broken in yet, I’m sure he’ll do his best to do it next season, but it just means that extra more to us, as I’m a Luton boy and I always will be.
“I haven’t thought about it too much, ever since a few months ago, I’ve just been game ready, focused to get promoted and now we’ve done it, maybe I can reflect.
“The club’s only going in one direction, hopefully we can sustain it for next season, we know it’s going to be difficult, but we’ll do our best.
“As the Mayor said, when the club’s doing well, the town does well and that just echoes when you actually live in the town.
“When the club were in the Championship it felt like the town was thriving and when we went down to the Conference, it got a bit dark and gloomy, but now we’re on the rise again.”
Justin was on the bus once more as Town paraded their League One champions trophy around Luton, before heading to St George’s Square for a celebration and civic reception.
He is getting used to such events now, saying: “It’s unbelievable, I was there when we went up from the Conference and last time (League Two) as well, but it’s amazing for the town and especially for the club.
“It’s 46 games for this, all the cups are an added bonus, but this is what you really play for, to be champions and that’s what we’ve done.
“I’m so proud of everyone this season and we’ve come a long way.
“Somehow we found our way on to the open top bus after the Johnstone’s Paint and we were loving it.
“There’s a picture of me and Frankie flying about somewhere, and it’s just a nice thing to remember.
“I was just becoming a scholar when we were in the Conference and when we went up, I was a first year scholar, so I was there, but I wasn’t involved in the first team.
“But that was good to see those guys training, we had Andre Gray who went on to better things, Pelly’s (Mpanzu) still here, there was Cam (Cameron McGeehan) as well, so it was just great for the club.”
Justin himself has had a superb season on a personal note too, although it didn’t look like it would be that way.
He only made three league starts in the first few months, before Dan Potts picked up an injury during the 2-0 win over Walsall on October 20.
Justin came in and did not look back, starting the remaining 32 matches.
His form earned a place in the EFL League One Team of the Year, plus a nomination for the EA Sports Young Player of the Season, which went to former Luton youngster Max Aarons, now with Norwich City.
He said: “All you can ask for as a footballer is to play as much as you can and keep on improving yourself.
“I’d like to think I’ve been quite consistent in the team this year and that was something I wanted to work on from last year.
“I didn’t play too many games and this year I’ve played over 40 so it’s been a real pleasure for me.
“It’s been unbelievable, especially for me as an individual.
“You never get voted for these individual awards without the team doing well and it’s just a reflection on the whole team really as well as what I’ve done this season, so it’s all a positive.”
All of the full back’s success has come on the left hand side of Town’s defence too, but Justin was confident he had that in his locker
He added: “Sneakily, I always thought I could do it, but you never really know until you get on the pitch I guess.
“It’s not too much different from right back to be honest, I can go both ways, so it’s all right.”