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Luton’s Kenilworth Road is horrible and intimidating – some players dreaded it but I loved it


KENILWORTH ROAD is a horrible, intimidating place if you’re not a warrior.

I played there on the opening day of last season with Birmingham and I loved it.

Kenilworth Road is not an easy place to play

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Kenilworth Road is not an easy place to playCredit: Reuters

I relish a battle but I knew some players absolutely dreaded getting on the bus to head over there.

The changing rooms are tight, the showers are horrible, as are the toilets. It is not the prettiest and it is far from accessible.

That may sound like I’m a prima donna footballer but you get used to really nice stadiums and hospitality after a while.

The ground may have had a bit of work done to it to prepare for the Premier League but it hasn’t been dressed up to look nice and fit in.

I have been to the training ground a few times, underneath the airport flight path. You cannot hear anything for planes overhead. It’s mental.

You see all the pictures on social media of Kenilworth Road’s entrances between the front doors of houses. I can tell you it is exactly like that. The pictures do not lie.

It is hardly Wembley or the Bernabeu but it is their own kingdom, one they defend like their lives depend on it.

And despite being a former Watford player, I feel Luton’s incredible story needs to be told for years to come to inspire the next fairytale rise through the divisions.

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Kenilworth Road's Oak Stand has an unbelievable entrance

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Kenilworth Road’s Oak Stand has an unbelievable entranceCredit: PA

Every club has that vision — even where I am at now as manager of Forest Green Rovers at the bottom of League Two.

The majority of clubs have these visions but never see it through. The Hatters, just like Bournemouth under Eddie Howe, have proved that  patience is key.

One of the best parts of Luton’s journey is hearing about an English manager doing well and not labelling them as long-ball merchants like Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce. How nice is that?

Everyone knows Rob Edwards wants to play good football.

But, like Sean Dyche has done at Everton, Edwards has acknowledged the players he has got and is doing what works best for his team.

He is a very, very good coach. He could have been a success at Watford but he was not given enough control, and ultimately was sacked after a couple of months.

I spoke to Rob a few days ago about my job at Rovers —  he used to manage there — and to hear how he is and see what he has done at Luton, and dealt with his captain Tom Lockyer’s health situation, is remarkable.

The best way to describe it, in my opinion, is that not one Luton player gets into another Premier League starting XI right now. That is how big the gulf is.

And yet, they are bound together by the underdog siege mentality and have galvanised their campaign.

As a player, that sort of feeling provokes an entitlement that you never knew you had —  even for the experienced players like Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley.

Rob Edwards has done a superb job with Luton Town

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Rob Edwards has done a superb job with Luton TownCredit: Getty
Both Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley arrived at Kenilworth Road this season

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Both Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley arrived at Kenilworth Road this seasonCredit: Rex

Nobody in the Prem wanted those two, yet Rob convinced them to do it his way, and you could argue now they could attract interest from other clubs come the summer.

You would like to think they would stick around should Luton stay up — and this club have a huge chance now after proving they belong in the Prem.

At the start of the season, no one thought Luton would get half as many points as they have done already. They were completely written off with no chance of competing.

You have to say, it was a fair assessment to make.

Since then, they have taken Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool all the way. They beat Newcastle in their last home game.

I am not sure they would rather play anyone else other than Chelsea this weekend, a side who are so unpredictable right now.

Luton are going to properly impose themselves. The question is . . . will Chelsea?

If Mauricio Pochettino gets his team to move the ball quickly with purpose, they should win given the billions they have spent. But, trust me, it will not be that easy.

Chelsea will need to deal with the crowd, the changing room, the early kick-off. It will be a seriously fun watch, one that could go either way.

Luton have won both of their last two outings

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Luton have won both of their last two outingsCredit: EPA
The Hatters face Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea side on Saturday

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The Hatters face Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea side on SaturdayCredit: Alamy





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