In what was our first in the series of talking to Town supporters of their experiences of watch the Hatters down the years, Alan Adair explains how much of a role the club plays in his life.
NAME: ALAN ADAIR
DATE OF BIRTH: 26/4/1958
FAVOURITE GAME: “The obvious one” Luton 3-2 Arsenal
FAVOURITE PLAYER: Malcolm Macdonald
FIRST GAME: Exeter (H) 1/12/1966
So proud of his new-born daughter and so absorbed in a life with the Hatters, Alan Adair admits to enrolling her as a Junior Hatter before he’d even signed her birth certificate.
It’s just one story that encapsulates Alan’s story as a Hatter, and while he’s not the only Town fan with a tale or two to tell – he’s the first in this series of stories inside our programme to mark our 130th anniversary season – there’s an overriding sense of passion towards the Hatters that certainly makes Alan stand out.
“The club has played a huge part in my life – I might even say it’s taken over my life,” says Alan. “There’s probably some truth in that but there’s no question it has played a massive role – to the point in which if there was no Luton Town I don’t know what I’d do with myself.”
Alan was eight when he was first taken to Kenilworth Road by his father Allan to watch a Town team containing David Pleat beat Exeter City in an FA Cup replay in December 1966.
“The club is special to me, it was what I was brought up with,” explains the 57-year-old Lutonian. “My dad and his dad, Tom, were both Scottish. They were Rangers fans. They had moved down to Bedfordshire but had chosen Luton to follow as well because they were the local team. Both of them had gained employment in the town and felt an affection for the local area and its local club. In their eyes you had to support your local team – that was how I was brought up.
“I remember the night of my first game. It was 1966, and like a lot of children my age, the World Cup had got me interested in football. One night my dad piped up ‘do you fancy going to watch a real game? I’ll take you’. And off we went.
“I remember vividly the crowd going wild. We sat in the wing stand of the main stand. I was excited, looking around, thinking how fantastic it was. I remember going up the stairs to the seats, sitting down and noticing the little things: the smell of smoke and onions, for example.
“My dad explained to me that Luton were the ones playing in black and white; he bought me a programme. We won 2-0 and Pleat scored one of the goals.”
Suitably hooked, Alan’s love affair with Luton Town had begun. However, still a boy, in 1972 Alan moved to the other side of the world with his parents and two sisters to Australia in 1972. It was a long way from Kenilworth Road.
But the move down under only lasted two years. Unbeknown to him at the time, his dad fell ill and wished for a return to the UK. Their arrival home coincided with the Hatters challenging for promotion to the top-flight.
Back among the familiar sights and sounds of Kenilworth Road, Alan never looked back: for 15 years he never missed a single home game.
The importance of the Hatters in Alan’s life has been documented in his memoirs - he published a book, Five Decades of Devotion to Luton Town, two years ago.
Whether you’ve read the book, or reminisced about the Town’s good times with him over a pint, it’s clear that Alan’s loyalty and desire is as strong as it was when he was taken to Kenilworth Road for the first time by his father as a wide-eyed boy.
“It’s not all been glory, we’ve had a lot of bad times,” he says. “I didn’t like the plastic pitch or the away fan ban but I’m still as passionate now as I’ve ever been.
“Of course, having seen Luton play in the top flight, I’m going to say those days were better but I still get the same buzz watching Luton now as I did when I was younger.”
Regardless of whether the Town are in League 2, the Conference or the top-flight, Alan says he’ll be there. But what makes the lure of Luton so special? So important that you keep going back for more despite disappointments?
“For me it’s one word: passion,” says Alan. “The passion and comradeship is important. I’m a creature of habit and you’ll always see me before a home match in the Bobbers Club, sharing drinks and company.
“Whether we’re supporters old or new, we all share one passion, Luton Town. For me, if you ask anyone in my family, they would probably say – apart from my daughters – that Luton Town is one the most important things in my life.”
While his Junior Hatter-enrolled daughters Georgina and Mollie no longer yearn for the excitement of watching 11 Luton Town players kick a ball around a pitch for an hour-and-a-half, Alan is delighted to see an upsurge in young people supporting the club he loves.
“I firmly believe the club have done wonders to encourage children to watch the Hatters,” he says. “I think we were lucky to convert a lot of younger fans who went to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. There’s a new generation of supporters and it is good to see so many children in Luton shirts these days.”
And Alan hopes the Hatters’ newest set of supporters can continue the trend of unwavered loyalty that has become a trademark for Town fans down the years.
“The loyalty of Luton supporters is phenomenal really,” he says. “It’s incredible to think that last season’s average attendance in League 2 of 8,702 was higher than the season in the top flight when we won the League Cup in 1987/88.”
Alan does like his numbers – a self-confessed “Statto” he has kept hand-written records, which was a handy tool when compiling his own book, which holds all the details of every football match he’s witnessed.
“The York home game was my 1,695th,” he says without the slightest hint of hesitation or calculation. “Hartlepool was my 590th away game.”
Having watched so many matches, celebrated many, many more goals and experienced all the highs and all the lows, Alan ends our discussion perfectly.
“While I’ve got breath in my body I’ll go to every game. I’m not one that pines for the good old days though – I love us now like I always have done.”
As he states on his survey, which sat on top of the pile, to the question why do you support Luton Town? “It’s what I am – a Hatter in birth, life and death.”
This article appeared in our programme against Leyton Orient in October in our Hatters through the Generations series. Like all our programmes this season you can order them online right here.