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Official Review by Martin McNelis, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Despite nearly three decades of plans and suggestions of a new stadium, Luton Town are still playing football at their spiritual home of Kenilworth Road. Situated not far from London, in among densely populated housing, the ground is a place of fascination and intrigue for any interested 'ground hopper' or enthusiast.
Known as the 'Hatters' due to the local hat making industry of many years ago, both the club and the team are synonymous for a variety of notable incidents and achievements throughout their history. The club have fluctuated up and down the English leagues throughout their history, culminating in the ultimate low of being relegated from the football league to the (non league) Conference in 2009. This compounded a period of severe instability on and off the pitch that saw the club in administration, docked points by the Football Association, before some seasons had even got under way, which conspired to successive relegations down the leagues. You will see the fans' flag which has 'betrayed by the F.A' emblazoned on it at most Luton matches.
When you think of Luton Town in the 1980s, memories of their artificial astro pitch, one of the first in England to install it, spring to mind along with household names of Sealy, Donaghy, Foster, Wilson, Hill, Preece, Harford and Stein. There was the crowd trouble in a cup tie versus Millwall which resulted in a ban of away supporters for a number of years, and beating Arsenal at Wembley in the 1989 League Cup Final. The club had flirted with relegation from the top flight for many years, and as the club reinstated a grass pitch, they went down on the last day of the season after a defeat by Notts County, meaning they missed out on the finance generated by the newly formed Premier League.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The club offers a variety of standard hot food (burgers, hot dogs, pies) and drinks from tea, coffee to a variety of soft drinks. Alcohol is also available in certain parts of the ground, but must be consumed in the concourses.
Since returning to the Football League, Luton have flirted with the promotion play off places. The fans have shown patience and resilience with the team, offering encouragement throughout the 90 minutes.
Kenilworth Road doesn't have much room for further adaptation, hence the requirement to move to a purpose built venue. The Main Stand is an older wooden two tiered structure, with little leg room to manoeuvre. There are also a number of supporting pillars and roof supports which will slightly hinder your view depending on your seat location. In one corner, newer seating has been installed and has become the dedicated 'family section.' Opposite is a row of executive boxes, known locally as the 'Bobbers Stand,' which runs the length of the pitch and with it being for business class rather than the ordinary fan, it maybe reduces the atmosphere of this small venue.
Behind the left hand goal is the Oak Stand and this is predominantly for away supporters. Incredibly, as you enter through the turnstiles you cross over people's back gardens before taking your seat! Across from that is a similar sized stand which houses the home fans. This was an old terrace which saw a roof added to it in the 1980s, and then seats installed.
As long as you are not low down behind either goal, the view of the pitch will be decent from everywhere else.
The ground is situated within two miles of the town centre, along Dunstable Road, which is a decent walk in good weather. There are a number of bars to visit, though the closer to the ground you get, the fewer options you have.
There are a number of hotels in the town centre. One of the best value offerings is the Easy Hotel, which is part of the Easyjet franchise.
Kenilworth Road is a relatively friendly place to visit, with passionate and dedicated supporters.
The average home gate is between 8,000-9,500.
The fans are very vociferous and get behind the team through the entire match. The chant of "Come on Luton" ad nauseam regularly reverberates round the ground during play.
Kenilworth Road is walking distance from the town centre, and is well served by both buses and train situated on route to the ground. Once inside there is limited movement within each stand as your match ticket will be for a designated area only.
There are regular buses and trains which drop you between two and five minutes walk from Kenilworth Road respectively.
There is limited street and official car parking, which is due to a lot of the area being for permit holders for local residents only.
The disabled access is situated on the front stand concourse, with a handful of places in the Oak Stand for away fans.
The club run three categories for home matches, and this is based on the popularity of the opposition and the demand from the opponents. For example, teams like Wycombe, Stevenage, Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge, AFC Wimbledon, and Crawley are all close by and will likely fall into a 'category A' match. The club also offer very competitive prices for students, elderly and kids, with the latter being as low as £3 a ticket, which is excellent value.
Adults priced £18-£22
Young adults (ages 17-21) £13-£17
Seniors (over 65) £10-£17
Youths (ages 10-17) £6-10
Junior (under 10s) £3-£7
The club shop is next to the Main Stand in a large portacabin and stocks all the current home, away and goalkeeper kits. It also has a wide selection of training wear, books and DVDs, all of which are very competitively priced. Similarly there is a large club shop in Luton's large shopping mall.
Visiting Kenilworth Road was fulfilling a childhood ambition! I was fascinated with their artificial surface in the 80s and how they always defied the odds to survive in the top flight! This is a very old ground, compact in size with very little room to manoeuvre due to the surrounding houses and busy roads and a venue that all enthusiasts should visit.
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40A Guildford St
Luton, England LU1 2PA
+44 1582 482119