Former Luton striker Collins looking forward to saying a proper farewell to Hatters fans

Forward wants to than Town supporters when he returns with Cardiff

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 7:00 am
James Collins applauds the Hatters fans after scoring a hat-trick against Preston North End last season

Ex-Hatters forward James Collins will be eagerly anticipating the chance to say a proper farewell to Luton Town fans next term.

The 30-year-old will return to Kenilworth Road as a Cardiff City player following his move to Wales on a free transfer earlier this month.

Collins ended his four year stint in Bedfordshire after a season in which fans weren’t allowed into stadiums due to the coronavirus restrictions.

That should all change from June 21, meaning the striker will head back to the Hatters hopefully with a full house inside the ground once more.

It’s something he is hoping to experience, saying: “I’ll look out for that and the good thing for me is I won’t be going back to Luton Town with any bitterness, with any point to prove.

“I’ll be going there wanting to win the game as that’s me being professional, but if fans are allowed in I’m really looking forward to going back to say bye to everyone properly and really thanking everyone for how they’ve been with me over the last four years.

“They’ve been fantastic for me, but I’m really looking forward to going back there and seeing everyone and coming up against the Hatters.

“It will be strange, because it’s all I’ve known for the last four years, scoring for Luton, but now I’ll be trying to score against Luton and win the game.

“I’ve done it before, I’ve played against some of my old teams before and once the whistle goes you get on with it and deal with it afterwards, so I’m looking forward to going back and seeing everyone.”

Collins did have two matches in front of supporters last term, as 1,000 saw Town defeat Norwich City 3-1.

There were then 2,000 in attendance as the Hatters beat Preston North End 3-0, Collins bagging a hat-trick, as the striker continued: “I can always look back and think the last game that the Luton Town fans saw me was then, and my wife and my children were there that day as well.

“That’s the last time they’ll ever see me play for Luton live, I managed to score a hat-trick and we won 3-0, so again, on a personal note, that couldn’t have gone any better for me.”

Since the decision to leave was made public, the overwhelming majority of Town fans have reacted positively on social media, giving the former striker, who scored 72 goals in 183 games, their best wishes.

On hearing this, Collins said: “That’s really nice to hear as I’m glad that they feel that way as that’s how I feel.

“I think that everyone in football knows that when an opportunity comes that you can’t turn down, everyone would probably do the same.

“I’m glad that they’re all being positive about it and I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about them so it’s really pleasing.”

Collins’ spell with the Hatters was not only a wonderful time for the forward himself, bagging double figures in each of his four campaigns, but the club too, winning two promotions to reach the Championship, as the striker continued his impressive record of personal success in the lower leagues, having gone up with Shrewsbury (twice) and Northampton previously.

They then avoided relegation on the final day in their first year back in the second tier, before a 12th place finish last season, as reflecting on his time at Kenilworth Road, Collins said: “It’s been the best four years of my career so far as it’s been nothing but success.

“Two promotions, staying in the Championship and then finishing in the top half of the Championship, honestly, it couldn’t have gone any better.

“When we got promoted, Carlisle away in League Two, we had a five, six-hour bus journey home, singing and drinking and celebrating, you don’t get those moments in football very often.

"I’ve been really fortunate to have five promotions, so you have to really cherish those moments and the Portsmouth game (3-2 win in League One) as I really felt after that game, I thought it was the best we played all year.

"It was really tough conditions, I managed to score two goals, Moncs (George Moncur) scored at the end and everything went wild.

"I really believed after that game we were going to get promoted to the Championship.

"Obviously staying up last year, I know the fans weren't there, but after the Blackburn game, celebrations in the dressing room, and just little things like that.

"You don’t get that very often and they’ll always stay in my memories as they were some great times, with some great people.

“The fact I scored so many goals for the club too and really fell in love with the club and loved playing there, it meant a lot to me.

“I’ll always look out for Luton and it will always be in my heart.

“I’m really looking forward to going back next year and seeing fans and saying bye properly as they’ve not been in the stadiums, so it was tough.”