David James on coaching and supporting the Town
For many Town fans it is their dream to run out on the Kenilworth Road turf, to be adored by the supporters and play for the club they’ve supported all their life.
Very few are able to do it and indeed not many have.
But former England international goalkeeper David James played for the Hatters once. It was during a time when he was a schoolboy with Watford. He jumped at the chance. Well, if you’re a Town fan, it’s just what comes natural.
“I was an under-14 or under-15 at the time. It was on the plastic pitch and Luton didn’t have a goalkeeper so I went in – and that’s a close as I’ve come to playing here.”
Sitting in John Still’s office, 43-year-old James melancholically sipped on tea as he reminisced about supporting the Hatters as a youngster.
He sat sporting the Town’s all-blue training gear – “It reminds me a bit of the Bedford trucks away kit of the 80s” – taking a break from his first coaching session.
The aim of the self-confessed Town fan is to get into coaching and eventually management. These days you need to do your coaching qualifications first – and that’s where the Hatters are helping in James’ quest to obtain is A-licence coaching qualifications. One quick phonecall to “Stillo” and a day later he was taking the Hatters for a session at their Ely Way training base.
“It’s all well and good filling out the logbook and writing in it that you’ve done 300 hours of coaching,” James explains, “but it doesn’t feel right at the moment. I could go for an assessment tomorrow but I feel I need to learn more and that’s what I’m here.
“This might be the Conference but there’s some very good players here.”
But taking the Hatters’ class of 2013 for training was not the ducking and diving around the Kenilworth Road goalmouth he always fantasised of as a teenager.
“The dream was to play here for Luton,” James says, sliding his hand under his chin in pensive mode. You got the impression he was visualising what might have been all those years ago before he started out as a young keeper at the other club down M1.
“It was the dream but perhaps that’s a little bit beyond me now. Now I’ve got this opportunity to be involved, and it’s by doing something I believe will not only be productive for the progression of my coaching but also, as John says, for the help of the team to push on and get the promotion that Luton deserves – and I’d love to be involved in that.
“I won’t be stepping on anybody’s toes. All I can do is pass on little bits of advice and experience onto those who want to listen.”
Born in Welwyn Garden City, a young David first set eyes on Kenilworth Road as a 10-year-old but it was far from love at first sight.
“I can’t remember the game precisely – it could have been against Hull – but it was horrible, it was awful,” James laughs. “I stood, on the Oak Road end I think, wondering who was cheering for who. In the end I cheered for the opposition.
“However, my uncle was a Luton fan and so was a mate of mine at school. I’ve got a stack of programmes which I collected over the years.”
James will be around Kenilworth Road for as long as “the boss” wants him around.
“It’s an open agreement with John,” explains James. “I can’t come to Saturday games because of my television commitments for BT Sport but I’ll get to the midweek matches.”
If and when James does watch the Town it’ll be the first time he’s taken in a game live since the 3-1 Littlewoods Cup final defeat to Nottingham Forest at Wembley in 1989.
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