NB: Richard has now, at Monsieur Salut’s request, expanded on his acclaim for Barnsley. See below for the longer response to the relevant question
Monsieur Salut writes: back when played Luton Town at Kenilworth Road in the second game of the season, our Hatters’ Who are You? interviewee Richard Armstrong correctly predicted a 1-1 draw. He thought then that after the glory of promotion the previous season, Luton would be mid-table while we would reach the playoffs.
Given all that has happened since, with Luton second top one place ahead of us, it seemed a good idea to go back to him ahead of Saturday’s crucial return. What does Richard think now, how will Nathan Jones’s departure for the manager’s job at Stoke affect the Hatters and do Sunderland now look capable of winning automatic promotion? Read on and, if you’ve seen all the League One frontrunners, let us know whether you agree on who is best of the bunch ..
Salut! Sunderland: do you remember saying this: “Going forward we were wonderful last year. We have goals all throughout the team and if Hylton and Collins click again then we could do very well. Watch out for Sheehan and his set pieces.” Who has turned out to be the key to your success?
Richard: we haven’t changed our style which is nice to see. Sheehan hasn’t played due to the pairing of both Bradley and Pearson. The diamond has worked very well and we continue to score for fun.
And where do you still identify weaknesses?
For me as good as Shea has been we need a commanding keeper. Especially if we do go up.
What sort of buzz has the promotion push created in the town?
For the last few years the town and the club have been on the up, I think we’re all surprised at how well we’ve done. It’s a huge month for the town with the news about the stadium (an important step forward in plans for a new stadium that could eventually house 23,000 fans after more than a century at Kenilworth Road) and the fixtures we have.
Who are best and worst sides you’ve seen in the league this season?
Barnsley were the best without a shadow of doubt. Plymouth were really poor when we played them along with Wimbledon.
Pompey were poor against us and we should have won in all honesty. Again Sunderland were very good first half but I thought we were much better second half and should have possibly nicked it.
Barnsley were quick, pacey and dominated us for arguably 3/4 of the games. Now admittedly this could change as we haven’t faced the other two more than once. But Barnsley and their midfield were outstanding. Of course that may change they’ve now lost Potts, we shall see.
And what have you made of our season so far (on course so far as your prediction is concerned)?
Pretty much as much as I thought. Still think you’ll be challenging for that auto spot at the end of the year, although we will see what happens to Maja which could be a massive loss.
Is there any player in our squad you would love to see at Luton? Maja?
Apart from him, we were linked in the summer to Luke O’Nien, who has always impressed me when I’ve seen him.
How has refereeing been for you (our fans moan a lot about the general standard)?
It’s been no different to how it’s been for the last few years. So inconsistent. We’ve had, I think, seven disallowed for offside this season. Six were clearly on. Penalties given then overturned. It never seems to get better.
I assume this in one you won’t want to miss. How are you planning your visit – there and back in a day or a stopover? How many of your fans will go?
Think we’re bringing around 3,000 including myself which is a great effort considering the journeys we’ve had recently, but there and back in a day for me this year. Looking forward to it, although as I write this, our manager Nathan Jones is off to Stoke so that may impact not only this game but our season.
Scoreline prediction: in view of the Nathan Jones situation, 3-1 to Sunderland.
And here’s a reminder of a couple of Richard’s replies in August (seen in full here):
Luton’s history is a remarkable one. Top flight, cup finals, the involvement of the likes of Malcolm Macdonald as player and Eric Morecambe as director, but also relegations, financial crises and a spell out of the league. How has it been for you as a fan and how do you see the immediate future unfolding?
Well it’s never boring being a Luton fan that’s for sure. It’s been bumpy, it’s really hurt at times as well. But there really is no other club like Luton. As for the future, the future will hopefully be bright. It’s been an awful long time since we’ve been so secure financially, hopefully a new stadium on the horizon soon as well. The stadium vital for the long term success of the club. Without it we can’t really compete at a higher level.
Richard on himself: so I was born in Luton in 1982. My grandparents lived a stone’s throw from Kenilworth Road and I guess it was just in my blood. All my family have supported Luton. There never was any other team for me.As I said earlier it’s been bumpy and full of ups and downs and wouldn’t have it any other way. I now work in the financial industry and have a four-year-old girl who I hope will follow in her family’s footsteps and support the town.
I write for a website called D3D4 and sometimes appear on their weekly podcast. If you want to follow me on twitter I can be going @habbyhatter and they can be found @https://twitter.com/D3D4football.
I’ve been a Luton fan since the age of three. I was born an bred in the town and lived a five minute walk from Kenilworth Road in my early days. My other interests include ice hockey and I’m a very keen photographer.
Interview: Colin Randall