Luton legend Ricky Hill ready to celebrate his Hatters career
One of the all-time greats, if not the greatest player ever, to pull on a Luton Town shirt is holding a special ‘evening with’ next month to celebrate his wonderful career with the Hatters.
Thirty years since he played the last of his 508 games for the club, former midfielder Ricky Hill will take to the stage at the Riverside Suite at Venue 360 on Friday, November 15, to discuss his life and times at Kenilworth Road.
Speaking exclusively to the Luton News about why he is holding such an event, Hill said: “I’ve never done one and I thought for me personally, the 30th year since I actually left Luton as a player, I haven’t been back on many occasions, I was back for a short spell as manager for four months in 2000 but since that time I haven’t really had a presence in Luton.
“People probably don’t know what happened to me, or if I’m around or not around, or where I am currently.
“So I thought it doesn’t do any harm, it’s something that would be interesting to do and also the fact that I wanted to bring in the charity Mary Seacole Housing Association, so I wanted them to be part of it and get some proceeds from it, which would be great.”
On what Town fans can expect from a player who was at Kenilworth Road between 1976 and 1989, experiencing promotions, cup final victories and England caps, Hill continued: “It’s just to get a little insight into the background, the emotions and the things that we felt as players during those heady times in the 80s and the late 70s.
“Having spent 15 years with Luton from the mid-70s to the 80s, when I left, obviously there’s a long history, a lot of ups and downs, but a lot of ups more so than downs.
“I can remember when I first joined as an apprentice at the club, we nearly went out of existence because they had no money and Peter Anderson had to be sold to Antwerp in November to keep the books going, so they were the precarious times I remember as an apprentice.
“But then moving forward, the times we had under Harry Haslam initially and then David Pleat, who built his squad that he wanted to take into what is now known as the Premiership.
“We had some fantastic times and lots of characters and lots of big matches that we enjoyed.
“The cup runs and then eventually we were established as a Premiership side which is a great achievement looking at what’s happened in this day and age, yo-yo up and down, we really did punch above our weight during those periods.”
Describing some of the specific memories that stick out for Hill over his lengthy stint in Bedfordshire, he said: “My debut (against Bristol Rovers in April 1976, 3-1 win in which Hill scored) without a doubt, it just came unexpected, out of the blue.
“I’d been there five months, I was a first year apprentice, had no prior warning of being involved, training with the first team or anything like that.
“I was just catapulted into the first team squad, it was only 12 at the time, and I only knew I was in the squad two minutes before we went into the room for the team to be announced.
“That was a fantastic memory and on the day it worked out well for me.
“I managed to get off the bench, score a goal, make a goal first, that kind of set me up for what then took place moving forward.
"It was unexpected, not only for myself, but I guess everyone else who was in the stadium at the time and probably even the coaching staff, but from that moment, the awareness was created of myself.
“Then it was the promotion (in 1981-82) after coming very close three consecutive years just missing out and wondering are we always going to be bridesmaids, or will we actually be the bride?
“To win the league as we did with a record amount of points at that time and losing just four games all season, that was a tremendous effort from those guys, and the camaraderie of those moments.
“Moving on to playing for England, three caps, one full start, two subs, it meant so much not only for myself but my family and the club.
“I think I was the first players since the 50s for Luton to be called up to England, Syd Owen was the one prior to me.
“That was a tremendous achievement that we all shared in as without the support of my team and the guys that were there, that put me into that kind of light and that kind of circle, where someone as great as Sir Bobby Robson would feel that I merited being involved in the squad, so that was a fantastic achievement.
“Then to be part and parcel of a Luton Town side that has won one of the big three domestic trophies (in 1988), was obviously something that I will hold dear to my heart for all the rest of my life.
“As not many clubs can say they have won one of the big three trophies and for it to be at the club I had been at 13 years at that stage, was a great day as well."
When speaking about the players who made up such a wonderful team in Town's rich history, Hill clearly has some wonderful memories.
He added: "We don’t see each other all the time, we don’t live in each others pockets as much as we used to, but there will be occasions when myself, Marv (Marvin Johnson), Mitchell Thomas, Mick Harford, Rob Johnson, if he’s down, Kingsley Black, when we do get together we revert straight back to those times.
"Kirk Stephens is my big mate, he did all my running for me, so I could go forwards and enjoy myself, and Tim Breacker too.
"They were so competent at taking that defensive side, it was fantastic.
"Everyone is so fond of it, we still have fond memories and we are fond of each other. It was a brotherhood, in all sense of the word."