Fan-tastic new role as James seeks to encourage the next generation of young Luton Town fans

James Whitehead,   Photo: Gareth Owen/LTFC
James Whitehead, Photo: Gareth Owen/LTFC

A 13-year-old Luton Town addict has landed his dream job after being appointed Junior Supporters’ Liaison Officer for the Hatters.

James Whitehead, from Wingrave, will act as a link between the Kenilworth Road club and its young supporters – and is already starting to make his mark.

James, whose bedroom is packed with Hatters memorabilia, saw the club advertise the role and he was shortlisted for an interview with Supporters’ Liaison Officer, John Miller, and then called back to be interviewed by Chief Executive Gary Sweet.

As a supporter, who attended his first match at the age of one, James was “overjoyed” when he was handed the job.

Already he’s got to work on pre-match duties, including interviewing young fans for the club’s new Junior Hatters Youtube channel. He’s also roadtested Happy Harry lunchbags for fans, and attended the Junior Hatters party at Orbital Trampoline Park.

James said: “I like the idea that I can give ideas to help the club to attract more junior supporters. It’s is still very early days for me in the role so we are still determining things that I will be doing in the role but I do like the opportunities that I have been provided with so far.

“I want to try to get the junior supporters more involved with things to do with the club and provide them with opportunities that they would not receive if they were to go and support a Premier League side. Hopefully between us we can encourage the next generation of young Hatters to stick with our club through the highs and the lows.”

James, whose favourite player is Elliot Lee is a season ticket holder in the David Preece Stand with dad Alistair.

Alistair said: “He’s come up with a few ideas, but it’s also what the club want him to do. He can see things from a kids’ perspective. He has a dedicated junior supporters email account which he is going to be looking after.

“Kids are bombarded with the Premier League, but we want to get them integrated and attached themselves to Luton. You can get up close to players – you’d never be able to meet all the Chelsea team.

“The perk of this job is that he gets to go behind the scenes. He’s quite interested in sports journalism so going into a sporting environment is a great thing for his CV.”

Supporters’ Liaison Officer, John Miller, said: “We are always looking to listen to our Junior Hatters supporters. As an extra link to our junior fans, we wanted to have a Junior Supporters’ Liaison Officer on board... and we’re probably one of the first EFL clubs to do so.

“So we advertised for volunteers on the club website, and following meetings with applicants and their parents, appointed James as our first Junior SLO.

“Aged 13, he’s already been a Hatter for 12 years! Since starting the role James has come up with some great ideas for engaging his fellow young supporters with the club, interviewing some for the new Junior Hatters YouTube channel and contributing to discussions about improving what’s on offer in Happy Harry’s lunch bags. He’s already making a real impact!”

Q&A

1. How does it feel to be chosen?

Having gone for the interviews and meeting both John Miller and Gary Sweet I was very excited about the potential opportunity to work for the club and the only time that I was nervous was when I was waiting to hear back from the club to hear if I had been successful. So when I found out I had been chosen I was naturally overjoyed.

2. What made you apply?

I felt like it would be a great opportunity for me to give something back to the club and to also get involved more in the club behind the scenes. I also thought it would be a really good experience and might help me in the future should I wish to pursue a future career in the sporting environment.

3. How big a Luton fan are you?

About 5 foot! ( Eric Morcambe lives!!). My first match was when I was one year old and my dad tells me that my first word was ‘Hatter’. I have been supporting the club ever since.

I get involved with as much as I can in the club (I have had a party there, been a mascot, flag waver, and even taken part in the half time hotshots challenge) and I attend as many matches as I can (including away ones) and when I can’t watch it I follow the reports on the twitter account.

My room is full of Luton memorabilia (including a framed picture with photos of me and a ticket from my first game).

4. What’s your message to young fans?

Enjoy the rollercoaster ride of being a Luton supporter, it is never dull, I am only 13 but I have seen us relegated three times, win the league once (hopefully soon to be twice), watched us win a cup final at Wembley, along with two play-off final defeats, two play-off semi-final defeats and a cup semi-final defeat!

Also bring your friends along, and they will soon discover that it is much better than watching the Premier League. Should any Junior Hatter want to contact me with a question or an idea they can email me at junior.slo@lutontown.co.uk
Keep the faith, keep cheering the team on and Come On You Hatters!!!