Jones admits a huge sense of relief after sealing promotion
Relief was the overriding emotion for Hatters boss Nathan Jones after he led the club back into League One for the first time in 10 years last weekend.
After missing out in the play-offs the previous season, in gut-wrenching fashion to Blackpool courtesy of a last minute equaliser sending them out 6-5 on aggregate at a shell-shocked Kenilworth Road, Jones’ determination to get the job done at the first attempt this time was all consuming.
He managed it at Carlisle United, with the 1-1 draw enough to seal the deal, and on how he felt having achieved what he set out, the Luton chief said: “It’s been brilliant, I remember every one that I had as a player and as a manager, it’s even more special for me in terms of guiding the team to promotion.
“Especially with this special club that has waited so long.
“I know the heartache, I know what we had to go through last year and I went through it.
“That’s been the driving force for me as much as getting promotion anyway, but to erase that memory from last year as well is fantastic.
“The way which we’ve done it has pleased me and I’ve been proud of it.
“To see the fans and to see what the players have done, it was a strange feeling as people said to me I bet you were euphoric, but the biggest feeling I had was relief, in terms of 'yes, we’ve done it.'
“All of that work, all of that sacrifice we’ve done came to fruition and I’m so pleased.
“I know what’s gone into and that’s the thing, it’s not just about getting 84 points which has got us promoted.
"What has gone into it in terms of recruitment, in terms of the daily sacrifice we make, in terms of how we educate them and there’s so much more than we’ve achieved than just a promotion.
“We’re in such a good place, on and off the field, with the players we have in terms of how much better they are, how in demand they are, how many teams they could get into, as we’ve educated them.
“They’re a great group and they’ve deserved it. I know we might not finish top, but we’re in such a strong place to carry that forward and that’s the big thing.
“We’ve done it while improving results, reducing the average age of the squad, adding assets, so it’s a good place to be in, it really is.
Like the whole Hatters squad, Jones did let his hair down on the lengthy coach drive back from Brunton Park on Saturday, although did also enjoy his own private celebrations when back home as well.
He continued: “That was brilliant, to see everyone having fun, we had a couple of imposters, my brother in law was on the bus and got to sample something like that, he was a bit in awe of everything, but it was very, very good and they deserved that.
“Those are things that are part and parcel of everything that comes with promotion.
“I remember my promotions and I partied like it was 1999, now it’s different for the staff.
“We’ve got a few young staff who enjoy it and party, but I went back, and me and my fiance and Jared (Roberts-Smith, head of sports science) and his girlfriend, just opened up a bottle of champagne that we’d been given and just sat there.
“That was enough for me, but it was fantastic. We stopped to get food and all the fans were there, it was just nice little things that happened.
“I look at the fans, the fans are in tears because I know what it means to them as it means the same to me, and that’s the affiliation we’ve had, so it’s been a wonderful few days in terms of that.”
Jones did concede he will take a few days off once the campaign is wrapped up though to let everything that the club have achieved this term fully sink in.
He added: “You have to do that, you can’t keep those levels up.
“I’ve put a lot of strain on my family and my personal relationships, so I have to give a little bit back to them, I need to do it for myself.
“The thing with me is, I’m not a partier, but what I am looking forward to is just sitting down and reflecting and just having a tear probably, because I’m quite proud of what we’ve done and I will, I will take that step back a little bit, because it’s important.
“As it’s got to start again in probably three or four weeks time, that intensity and everything, we go again.
“But I’m going to enjoy it and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and it’s a wonderful feeling.”