Loyal Luton Supporters Club was formed in 1990 when a number of members of the official Supporters Club recognised that it was important to be able to air independent views regarding certain issues important to the fans, and formed a breakaway group. They believed that the official Supporters Club followed the Club line regardless of what it was – and felt it was about time that an alternative voice was heard.
In those early days we far too often heard people say, “Loyal Luton is that bunch of militant people hell bent on causing trouble and with no real care about the football club and the interests of the majority of the fans”. However, over the years Loyal Luton’s input and influence is broadly recognised as being a key part of the Football Club surviving the traumas and dramas we have endured.
What was formed back in 1990 was the nucleus of the Club that we have today, an organisation which gives those with an opinion a platform from which they can be represented.
From the outset we had a good crowd meeting up socially on match days, and monthly at the Brache Sparta Club off Dallow Road, for what turned out to be some memorable, yet chaotic times! Strong opinions were voiced after most matches and the ‘Depleated’ fanzine was created – in our somewhat biased opinion still the best Luton Town fanzine to have been! (radical, yet fair and of course, anti Kohler!).
A roller coaster ride
The first Chairman of LLSC was Lenny Pengelly, before the indomitable Tom Shanley took over and carried Loyal Luton through the roller-coaster mid-90’s. Tom to this day remains on the committee. He was succeeded as Chairman by John Tiernan in the late 90’s before another old stalwart Bob Bates took us through the millennium. After five years at the helm, Bob stood down and Kevin Lennon took over in the summer of 2005 for a five-year stint before passing the baton to Mark Bradbury who led the Club for 10 years before stepping aside for Kevin Rouse to pick up the mantle in the summer of 2020.
Campaigning for the fans & club
Over the years we have campaigned for many things important to fans such as: disbanding the membership scheme; the return of away fans; allowing cash turnstiles on the day of the match; and enabling Luton fans to sit safely in the Oak Road when other parts of the ground have been sold out and there is small away support.
In conjunction with Nat West Bank we introduced a scheme to encourage young supporters to come to Kenilworth Road and watch LTFC – something we strongly believe in and remain very proud of, as those youngsters are our future. Apart from a period in the Kohler years when we withdrew funding to the football club we have provided many match and player kit sponsorships.
Winning important battles
Every Chairman seems to have been involved in major battles over the years – and come out on top by sticking strongly to the beliefs of the fans we represent and being 100% committed to the cause. Tom Shanley was in situ during the nightmare Kohler years, while John Tiernan worked extremely hard to help form FLAG, whom LLSC actively supported. Bob Bates started to have it easy but then the whole John Gurney saga rose its ugly head and LLSC was instrumental in ousting Gurney and helping establish Trust in Luton.
Once things settled down, Kevin Lennon was at the head of LLSC but it wasn’t too long before we were suddenly faced with the FC looking to relocate out of the town and up to J12. A major campaign was mounted to ensure the Hatters stayed in Luton during which time membership increased to record levels and the profile of Loyal Luton not only grew considerably but gained all-round respect.
The committee and Kevin in particular worked tirelessly to identify the damage the owners J10 – led by Tomlins and Mitchell – were implementing on the football club. Their actions had taken LTFC, once again, to the brink of oblivion. We assisted and supported 2020 in their successful bid to become proper fit custodians of the Football Club, helping to hold the fort at times while ‘the three amigos’, Messrs Sweet, Brown and Browne, brought the investors together.
The 2020 era
With the Club in 2020’s hands Mark Bradbury had the unusual experience for a LLSC Chairman of not having a fight with unscrupulous owners! There were still battles to be fought though, as Loyal Luton looked to support 2020 in their stadium relocation plans. We continued our close dialogue with the Leaders of Luton Borough council and other stakeholders in the town. By following the now well established LLSC principles of establishing facts by research and communication, we are now able to “sit at the top table” with our opinion valued and welcomed.
Power Court & Newlands Park
2020’s planning applications for the new stadium at Power Court and the associated development at Newlands Park were seen, obviously, as crucial to the future of our beloved football club. We therefore formed a working group with Luton Town Supporters Trust, seeking to combine the strengths of the two organisations in battling opponents of the schemes (primarily the owners of the towns shopping mall) and to unite the people of Luton and surrounding areas – and of course the supporters of the football club – in being seen and heard in backing the proposals.
Looking to the future
Two things which set LLSC apart from other supporters groups are our independence and the fact that everyone has a voice and is listened to. Football is all about opinions. We recognise that and encourage people to use LLSC as a channel to air their views. Loyal Luton can and does change things and will continue to do so for as long as there is a Luton Town Football Club. Which hopefully will be for many generations to come!