Thousands of Luton fans have celebrated the Hatters’ fairytale rise into the Premier League at a civic parade in the town.
Luton won promotion to the top flight of English football on Saturday by beating Coventry in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final, just nine years after playing in the National League.
Rob Edwards’ side – who won 6-5 on penalties at Wembley after the game had been drawn 1-1 – will next season welcome champions Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United to their modest 10,356-capacity Kenilworth Road home.
“It means everything,” said head coach Rob Edwards before launching into a rendition of Bon Jovi’s ‘Always’ and holding aloft the play-off trophy on the Luton Town Hall balcony.
“It’s for you (the fans), the Luton Town people, for the town, these players who deserve it, for the backroom staff who work so hard, the board. We’ve got to enjoy this moment.”
Some Luton fans had waited nearly four hours to see players and staff make their way on to a specially-constructed stage in the town’s St George’s Square.
Highlights of the season and the play-off final were shown on a big screen before two open-top buses arrived following a short ride from Kenilworth Road.
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet told fans: “The impact of being in the Premier League will be massive for this town.
“This could be a life-changing opportunity for us, but from a character point of view, don’t change.
“Let’s still be us, still grounded. Let’s keep humble.”