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  • Martin McNelis

Kenilworth Road – Luton Town FC

Photos by Google Photos

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Kenilworth Road 1 Maple Rd E. Luton, England LU4 8AW United Kingdom

Year Opened: 1905

Capacity: 10,356


Hatter For a Day

Despite nearly three decades of plans and suggestions of a new stadium, Luton Town is still playing football at their spiritual home of Kenilworth Road. Situated not far from London, in 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 with a variety of notable incidents and achievements throughout their history. The club has fluctuated up and down the English leagues throughout its 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 underway, 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 crowd trouble in a cup tie versus Millwall which resulted in a ban of away supporters for many 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.

Food & Beverage 4

The club offers a variety of standard hot food (burgers, hot dogs, pies) and drinks from tea, and coffee to a variety of soft drinks. Alcohol is also available in certain parts of the ground but must be consumed in the concourses.

Atmosphere 4

Since returning to the Football League, Luton has flirted with promotion to 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 several 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.’

The 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. As long as you are not low down behind either goal, the view of the pitch will be decent from everywhere else.

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 that houses the home fans. This was an old terrace that saw a roof added to it in the 1980s, and then seats installed.

Neighborhood 3

The ground is situated within two miles of the town centre, along Dunstable Road, which is a decent walk in good weather. There are many bars to visit, though the closer to the ground you get, the fewer options you have. There are some hotels in the town centre. One of the best value offerings is the Easy Hotel, which is part of the Easyjet franchise.

Fans 4

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 around the ground during play.

Access 5

Kenilworth Road is within walking distance from the town centre and is well served by both buses and trains situated en route to the ground. Once inside there is a 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 off 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 residents only. The disabled access is situated on the front stand concourse, with a handful of places in the Oak Stand for away fans.

Return on Investment 4

The club runs 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 offers very competitive prices for students, the 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

Extras 4

The club shop is next to the Main Stand in a large porta-cabin 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.

Final Thoughts

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 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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