'Gutted' Hylton had feared for his place after watching new striker James Collins net a treble as Town hammered Yeovil 8-2

Forward thought he would have to make do with a place on the bench

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 3:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th June 2022, 3:49 pm
James Collins scores the first of his hat-trick against Yeovil on the opening day of the 2017-18 season
James Collins scores the first of his hat-trick against Yeovil on the opening day of the 2017-18 season

Former Luton attacker Danny Hylton admitted he had feared for his place in the Town side at the start of the 2017-18 season after watching from the sidelines as the Hatters produced a magnificent display to thrash Yeovil 8-2 on the opening day of the campaign.

After a debut season in which the forward had found the net 27 times as Town missed out in the play-offs following an agonising last kick defeat to Blackpool saw them beaten 6-5 on aggregate, boss Nathan Jones opted to strengthen significantly during the summer.

He brought in proven striker James Collins from Crawley, West Ham forward Elliot Lee and young Truro prospect Isaac Vassell to bolster his attacking options.

It worked a treat in the first game, with Vassell on target twice, Lee netting once and Collins going on to score a hat-trick for his new club at the first time of asking.

With Kenilworth Road acclaiming the wonderful display, Hylton remembers not being overly happy about the scoreline himself, saying “It’s crazy because I remember watching it and I can say this now – a little part of me was, I don’t want to say fuming, but I was gutted because I was thinking ‘if I was out there, I’d have scored today, I’d have got a hat-trick today.’

“You never know, but I just remember thinking Collo’s come in and you start panicking thinking ‘he’s scored a hat-trick first game, that’s it, I’m going to be on the bench all season.’

“Vass did brilliantly as well, but that’s the competition we had at the time, it was brilliant.

"The gaffer always says, the team that we have, everyone contributes and we had goals from everywhere that year.

"We had people scoring and it was competition, it was an unbelievable squad, and a great way to start the season.”

With Collins coming into add even more goals to a front-line and ensure there was no need for the play-offs, rumours often swirled around that he and Hylton couldn’t play together, despite bagging a combined 40 league goals between them as Luton ultimately went up.

Hylton was quick to laugh off any such speculation, has he continued: “When Collo came in, the season before I scored quite a few goals and Collo was a goalscorer, so there was two of us and we both wanted to be top goalscorer.

"We both wanted to score but it was never to the detriment of the team where we wouldn’t pass to each other or anything like that.

"We are probably both greedy and if we got in front of goal we would both shoot, but Collo is a fantastic player and even better human.

"He’s a great, great guy and I really enjoyed playing with him.

"It was nice to play with two focal points, similar kind of runners, take hits, can do the scruffy side of the game and he’ll probably tell you the same that we pushed each other every day.

"At the end of the season it ended in promotion which is what we set out to achieve.”

With the pair doing the business upfront, Town were able to finish second in the league, pipped to the title by Accrington Stanley, with promotion secured during a 1-1 draw at Carlisle United.

On the day and lengthy journey back from Brunton Park, Hylton added: “It was an unbelievable moment, a long old trip by the way.

"But the fans were up there that day and we were on the coach, there were a few tins of alcohol and sing-songs, it was brilliant.

"It was another great moment and in football, you don’t get loads or great moments in football.

"A lot of people will tell you that you’ll be lucky to get a promotion or two in your career, and so just to have so many good moments, it was great, it really was.”