Review: New Luton Town FC book has a happy ending!

Luton Town: The Non-League Years
Luton Town: The Non-League Years

Luton Town fans may be familiar with three books written by journalist Rob Hadgraft covering the turbulent recent history of the football club he’s supported for 40 years, writes Geoff Cox.

Staring Into The Abyss, Through The Trap Door and The Dark Side Of The Moon were all terrific reads as they focused on the dreadful events that have befallen the Hatters.

But now he’s finally produced a book with a happy ending!

Luton Town: The Non-League Years is a detailed account of five years of hell for the club and its huge, loyal fanbase after it found itself competing alongside part-timers in non-league circles following 89 consecutive seasons in the Football League.

Despite being a big fish in a tiny pool, the passage back took much longer and was more painful than anyone expected.

The book’s author was there, at matches at home and away, and relives the remarkable ups and downs in a month-by-month tale of Luton Town’s journey from the edge of the abyss back to the promised land.

Hadgraft says his book, containing many colour photographs from the Luton News archive as well as those taken by the author, is “largely based on my observations from the nether regions of Block C in front of the ancient Main Stand at Kenilworth Road”.

He adds: “Supporting Luton can be a stressful business, and that seat in Block C is not a comfortable one, but once you are hooked there’s no turning back.”

The foreword was written by Luton Town chairman Nick Owen, who described the events covered by Hadgraft’s three earlier Hatters volumes as “wretched”.

Owen says long-suffering fans like the author and himself are fully aware of all the joy, despair, frustration and false dawns that following the fortunes of a football club can bring.

But the non-League years ended in utter jubilation in April 2014 as Luton Town won the Skrill Premier title by a clear 19 points with over 100 goals and more than 100 points.

Owen points out that that support has not only remained steadfast but has actually grown during these troubled times.

“I am sure there are tens of thousands who feel the same way - it has intensified my passion for Luton Town,” he says.

Luton-born Hadgraft, who has 16 published sports books to his name and has been short-listed for the William Hill Sportsbook Of The Year award, adds: “I hope my narrative captures some of the sights, sounds and surreal flavours of a big club’s temporary exile in the unforgiving, forbidding world outside the Football League.”

Having devoured this page-turner in just two sittings, I can assure all fellow Hatters followers that it certainly does that.

I can’t wait for Hadgraft’s next offering - perhaps at the end of the 2014/15 season after Luton Town have been promoted to League One?

> Luton Town: The Non-League Years by Rob Hadgraft is published in paperback by Amberley Publishing, priced £14.99. Visit www.amberley-books.com.