Luton Town FC: The Club that Never Stopped Believing

After many years, Luton Town FC will play in the Premier League. Find out about their route back to the top flight of English soccer.

Luton Town Stadium

Photo: TW-LutonTown

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Luton Town FC: el club que nunca dejó de creer

Soccer, like life itself, is full of happy and sad moments; of stories with perseverance as the protagonist; of people who never, for any reason, stopped believing. England is the cradle of this sport and, therefore, in every corner of the country there is a ball capable of bringing smiles and tears to an entire community. On this occasion, the eyes of the world are focused on the county of Bedfordshire, specifically on the town of Luton, where the most recent member of the Premier League is located: Luton Town FC.

The descents are always painful, a hard blow to the soul of the fan, but these are nothing more than an excuse to get up, return to work firmly, and thus achieve a new ascent. After all, that's what soccer is all about, going higher and higher season after season, and the best thing is to do it together with the unconditional fans.

The history of Luton Town goes a bit that way. As many will know, England is rich in that sense, since there is no team that does not know what it means to rise from the ashes, to travel the paths of hell to knock on the doors of heaven. This is how they have done it, who in just over a decade went from being semi-professionals in the fifth division, to facing off against the best players in the world in the Premier League.

This Is Luton!

May 27, 2023, will be another of the important dates in the history of Hatters (recognized as such for being a city that made hats for almost a century). After coming back from Sunderland in the promotion playoff semifinals, Luton defeated Conventry City at the mythical Wembley Stadium to achieve the mythical feat. The fairy tale culminated after an intense and exciting penalty shootout.

But that hubbub was only the beginning of a new phase. The real journey began 138 years ago, on April 11, 1885, when the merger of two other clubs gave birth to Luton Town FC, one of the founders of the Southern League in 1894. In the 70 years that followed, the team spent all the promotion categories of English soccer until reaching the first division in 1955.

From then on, Luton was on a constant up and down, having lived three cycles in the top flight. In the midst of their last period of glory (1982-1992) it won a League Cup, in 1988, against Arsenal. But just a year before the birth of the Premier League, the team was sentenced to another relegation which, in turn, began its darkest period.

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From ownership changes to financial irregularities, the biggest blow Luton suffered was the 30-point discount to the 2008 season. The consequences were devastating a year later, as the Hatters dropped to the fifth division. In other words, they were no longer part of the English professional football scheme after 89 years.

The club had to be shipwrecked for five long seasons in the Conference League (now the National League) before rising from the ashes and climbing back to the top. From there it emerged champion in 2014, four years later it was runner-up in League Two, then the team won the League One title in 2019, to finally finish third in the Championship and thus ascend to the Premier.

An Ideal Scenario

The magic that covers Luton Town ranges from its loyal fans to its talented players and managers. But there is a protagonist that has stolen the eyes of locals and strangers: Kenilworth Road. Yes, it is a stadium with a capacity for just over 10,000 spectators and that maintains the aesthetics of the old British coliseums that are now part of the past.

This structure has stood since 1905 in the Bury Park district, a residential area that is located a few kilometers from the city center. Its arrival in the Premier League will make it the smallest stadium in the league, a condition that until this season belonged to the Vitality Stadium, of the Bournemouth club, with a capacity for 11,300 seats.

The most curious thing about Kenilworth Road is the access to one of its stands, since you have to go through the patio of the surrounding houses. According to what Roger Wash, the club's historian, told in an interview, when the stadium was built there were few buildings in the surroundings, but over time it quickly became populated, and it was already common for people to watch the games from the windows of their houses.

"In the seventies, the houses built were owned by the club and were negotiated. Over time, Luton made entrances under the houses that crossed the inner gardens until they reached the stands. The current owners bought knowing in advance that, every two weeks, supporters would go through the turnstiles. Also, nobody walks inside the houses, but under some bedrooms," Wash explained.

The Future Is Here

Among the short-term plans is the idea of moving to the stadium. Luton Town's ambitions are high, and they aim to stay in the Premier League for several years. That is why the institution will seek to build a new home: the Curt Power, for more than 20,000 people. However, they must first meet a series of requirements in order to have the new land in 2026.

For now, the 118 years of Kenilworth Road will remain almost intact until then, as they will make a small expansion of seats in the coming months. In addition, the idea is that the future headquarters also have homes around it, as well as community and leisure spaces, with the intention that that characteristic touch is not lost. At the end of it all, the journey of this renewed Luton Town is just beginning.


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