Former Luton defender Scott Cuthbert was thrilled to finally savour that feeling of promotion for the first time in his career during his final season for the club.
The 31-year-old centre half had come so near before in his career when at Swindon and Leyton Orient, but was at last able to add that to his CV when Luton finished second this term to reach League One.
Some players might only get promoted once in their career, some never do, so definitely, they are the moments you’ve got to cherish.Scott Cuthbert
Speaking to the News/Gazette, Cuthbert said: “I’ve had a couple of close calls, been beaten in the play-off final twice, play-offs last year, so three play-off defeats and this is my first promotion, so it was special, it was good, it was enjoyable.
“It was great to be with the lads, as it’s a great bunch of lads they’ve got there.
“They work so hard every day, the staff included and it was great to be part of and the kind of thing you look back on with fond memories.”
Although the news about his departure was made public last week, Cuthbert always knew it was something that could be on the cards this term.
He said: “I’d had three years there, worked under the manager for two and a half years, that was great, but I knew my time at the club was coming to an end and it was going to be time to move on.
“I’m at the age now, I’m 31 and I need to play regularly as for the last 10-11 years of my career I’ve played almost week in week out.
“So I didn’t want to be sitting on the bench, I need to be out there playing every week.”
The Scotsman felt he could have done that in League One with the Hatters if they had shown the desire to keep him, saying: “I played six years in League One, so I’m more than confident I could have played week in week out.
“I think it was just a case of the manager wanted to go down a younger route. He’s got Lloyd (Jones) in and will probably bring in another one as well and I’m probably just above the tail end of that kind of age thing.
“So between that and myself wanting to be out there and playing regular football for another couple of years with another club, then that was the decision that was made.”
Boss Nathan Jones admitted that had been the thinking behind the call not to offer the skipper a new deal, as he said: “Me and Scott spoke, and it was kind of an open decision for Scott.
“If Scott had been adamant that he definitely wanted to stay, then it might have been a different conversation, but we both felt that it was probably the right time with everything that he had a new start.
“With the season we’ve had, the actual impact that he’s had, I would imagine that he’d have his choice of suitors and that would only lead to him having further longevity in his career, for which I wish him all the best.”
The former captain, who played 111 times in total for the club, was able to lift the runners-up trophy in front of a packed Kenilworth Road, after being given the final five minutes against Forest Green Rovers last month.
He was also part of the celebrations up at Carlisle when promotion was secured too, saying: “The gaffer pulled me on the Thursday and said I wasn’t going to be in the squad because I did miss a couple of weeks training, but he did want me to come up and be part of the squad.
“Being club captain he said he knew the situation and if we got the result we would have been promoted.
“So fortunately I travelled up with the lads there and was part of it all, part of the build-up, part of it during the day and then the celebrations after were fantastic.
“It’s a unique situation, as some players might only get promoted once in their career, some never do, so definitely, they are the moments you’ve got to cherish.
“That (Forest Green) was going to be my last home game, so it was nice for the manager to put me on for the last couple of minutes and the celebrations were special after as well.
“It was great to get that done, and that was enjoyable.”
Being the skipper for the majority of his career with the Hatters was clearly special for Cuthebrt too as he added: “I’m really proud to have captained the club for that long.
“I said before, when I signed for the club, I didn’t realise how big it was, how passionate the locals are about their club.
“I was proud to take over the armband and to captain the club. Last year we were close with the play-offs, and this year, albeit my injury kind of killed my season a bit, to be club captain and to be part of something special was fantastic.”