Kenilworth Kardashian and The Warriors: Luton Town’s Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu proves that fairytales do come true

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The midfielder completed his journey from non-league to the Premier League with the Hatters on Saturday afternoon.

Chalk one up for the battering rams. Luton Town, with their hi-vis brand of brutish physicality and their away end that has garnered more attention on social media than the entire Kardasian clan combined in recent weeks, have bludgeoned their way into the Premier League. It’s sort of like a fairytale, if you consider The Warriors to be a fairytale.

The Hatters went to the capital on Saturday afternoon and beat Coventry City in a bruising affair. In the end, penalties were needed to separate them, and the shattering of sky blue hearts as Fankaty Darbo’s spot kick ballooned excruciatingly into orbit was gut-wrenching to witness. We haven’t seen headwear-adjacent pain like this since Peaky Blinders ended.

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The Hatters players face the camera with Tom Lockyer's shirt after winning promotionThe Hatters players face the camera with Tom Lockyer's shirt after winning promotion
The Hatters players face the camera with Tom Lockyer's shirt after winning promotion

Already, talk from some quarters has turned to how Luton will fare in the Premier League, with the overwhelming consensus being that they will get pasted all over the place like a fat bundle of promotional posters for a student club night. More than once, I have seen references made to Derby County’s record low 11-point tally.

For what its worth, I’m not so sure they’ll struggle quite so badly. Make no mistake, I’m not talking Europa League pushes and frequent top upsets, but Luton have a very clear sense of self-identity, and a postage stamp pitch in an imposingly cramped stadium that helps them to both realise their tactical vision and unsettle their guests. Think of it like Dracula’s castle, if the fanged Count had a particular interest in the trappings of Sunday League football.

Anyways, regardless of how Luton get on next season, at this precise moment in time, in the here and now, they have earned the right to be jubilant. And nobody at Kenilworth Road is as deserving of celebration as Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

On Saturday afternoon, as the confetti flew and the sunlight dappled Wembley’s hallowed turf, the midfielder became the first player in the history of the English game to make it from non-league football to the Premier League with the same club. It’s the kind of feat that you can’t envisage being replicated any time soon.

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Mpanzu signed for the Hatters in the January of 2014, with the club chasing promotion from the National League. He has since spent four seasons with them in League Two, one in League One, and four more in the Championship. It’s been a palindromic period of steady growth, and he has played a key role throughout. Next season, provided he stays put, he will make his bow as a top flight footballer, 31 years after Luton last competed in the highest division. Some redemption arcs take so long that you kind of forget they’re happening at all.

As for Mpanzu himself, one can only imagine how he must be feeling. Speaking after this weekend’s clash, with more than a dash of disbelief in his tone, he said: “I feel like I’ve completed football. I can retire right now. It’s been a journey, been through the highs and lows, but in the end you’ve got to believe in yourself.”

And as much as Mpanzu may joke about hanging up his boots in a state of blissful contentment, however, both he and Luton will feel - and indeed hope - that this is actually just the beginning. The fact that it comes off the back of such a long and arduous slog through the wilderness will only make it all the sweeter. Actually, forget what I said earlier, maybe The Warriors is a fairytale after all.

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