Jones aims to break David Pleat's record as the longest serving Luton manager

Town chief now the fourth longest serving in club's history

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 2:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 2:48 pm
Luton boss Nathan Jones
Luton boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has targeted breaking Town legend David Pleat’s record as the longest serving Luton manager after reaching his 250th game in charge during Tuesday night's 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest.

The Welshman has some way to go, as Pleat was at the helm for 609 competitive matches in his two stints at Kenilworth Road, where he is widely regarded as the best manager in the club's history.

Appointed in 1978, the winger, who had served Luton for three years as a player earlier in his career, delivered some of the finest football witnessed by Luton fans, with stars like Mal Donaghy, Brian Stein, Ricky Hill, Mick Harford and David Moss all plying their trade for the Hatters,

Former Town boss David Pleat holds the record with 609 games

Pleat won promotion to Division One in his first spell, going on to achieve a famous final day Division One survival win at Manchester City, plus reaching the FA Cup semi-final and quarter-final.

He left to managed Spurs and Leicester, before returning to Bedfordshire in 1991 for another four years, as although relegated back to Division Two, he did reach another FA Cup semi-final in 1994.

With 609 games in total, Jones still has some way to go to catch the former manager, some 359 matches to be exact, as he is still some way behind former Scottish international Dally Duncan, who took Luton 514 times between 1947-58, although is closing in on Harry Haslam's number of 275 from 1972 to 1978.

After moving to number four in the all-time list having gone above Lennie Lawrence in midweek, Jones said: “I’m very proud of that and I would like to beat the record.

"I don’t know how far I’ve got to go, to do that, but I would like to do that.

“If I can be here for a significant amount of time, then I would be very proud to do that. And I know if I were to do that, then we would’ve been successful.

“I love my job here, I love what we have, all my key relationships here, throughout the club, are very good ones, very productive, very sane and really professional.

"I like that and I’ve got a lot of good friends.

“I hope that I’m here for a long time and I can continue to move forward.

“If I can manage to double it (250) then I’ll be very very pleased.

"If I can get anywhere near (Pleat's record) as a manager, I know I would’ve done something right and I hope I can do that with this club.”

Now in his second spell at Kenilworth Road, Jones has overseen a swift rise up the football pyramid having initially taken over in January 2016 when Luton were 18th in League Two.

He led them to League One in in the 2017-18 season and was crafting another promotion push the following campaign when he controversially left for Stoke City.

However, Jones was back in May 2020, leading the Hatters to Championship survival against the odds and after a 12th place finish last term, is now looking to establish Luton as top six candidates this season.

On the milestone of reaching his quarter century though, he added: “Every game is important when you ask manager, as some managers don’t get to 250 games.

"I remember reading my journal not long ago and going back over stuff and we were 18th in League Two when I came in.

"So I knew I had to get results because if you don’t then I might not have got to 50, and those are the things you look at.

"Then for the club to trust me in this amount of time and gave me that opportunity to manage and I believe that I’ve repaid them in a certain way, in terms of the work that we do and the things we’ve created here.

"I feel very proud to have done that, and they are milestones, but to do 250 games, if you play 250 games for example, you’re a decent player as it’s very difficult to play 250 league games.

"I managed to play close to 600 so I’m very proud of that, so I’ve managed now 250 for Luton and elsewhere, near 50, so I’m not far off 300 which is a decent start.

"But you want to make as many as you can, you want to be involved as much as you can, and the life of a manager can be short lived.

"So I’m very proud to have been at this club and something like 15, 16 months is the average of a Championship manager so to pass that here at Luton, I’m very proud and pleased with that.

"It’s a tough job, so any milestone you do as a manager means a lot because it means you are doing something relatively right.”