Hatters head to club that helped set Jack on right road
It’s fair to say Jack Marriott has become used to being in the driving seat in recent months.
The 21-year-old finished last season with a flurry of goals, he steered a specially wrapped Tivoli car through the streets of Luton to launch our sponsorship deal with SsangYong last month, and he’s started pre-season with his pedal to the metal by firing five goals in just 112 minutes on the pitch.
He’s also kept himself on the right road to securing cult status with the Kenilworth Road faithful by signing a three-year deal tying him to the Hatters until 2019.
Tonight, however, the ex-Ipswich Town youngster goes back to the club who gave him his first chance to experience men’s senior football – and where the manager used to drive to Suffolk to pick him up for training and matches in the days before he could drive himself.
“I couldn’t drive when I went to Woking for the first of my three loan spells,” Marriott told lutontown.co.uk. “Garry Hill would drive from his home in Essex to Ipswich to pick me up and take me all the way to Surrey, then he’d take me home afterwards.
“I remember the first time I fell asleep on the way home after training. I was really embarrassed and kept apologising, but Garry joked that he couldn’t blame me! It was just one example of how Garry and the club looked after me.
“There are so many good people there and I’ll always be grateful to them for giving me my first chance to experience professional football. I scored my first senior goals there, so I’m never going to forget that. It’ll be nice to go back and see some old friends.”
Marriott netted 18 times in 49 appearances in three spells for the Cards between November 2013 and January 2015. He played against Luton in the Town’s Conference title-winning season of 2013-14, but didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet.
That is something he’s been doing with growing regularity under Nathan Jones, ending last term with a double against Exeter on the final day and starting the domestic pre-season campaign with a flurry, hitting an 11-minute hat-trick in his half-an-hour cameo at Bedford and two to sink Brighton last Saturday, including an opener inside 25 seconds.
Tonight he will be part of another strong squad Jones takes to face a team who beat League One club Swindon Town 3-1 last Saturday in a game that was part of the deal that took midfielder John Goddard to the County Ground at the end of last season.
The Cards, or Cardinals to give them their full nickname, finished 12th in Non-League’s top-flight last season after narrowly missing out on the play-offs the year before.
So far this season they have drawn 1-1 at home to Watford, won 2-1 away at Gosport Borough and lost 2-0 at home to Leyton Orient before Swindon’s visit at the weekend.
Kingfield has been a happy hunting ground for the Hatters, winning on three of our four visits to Surrey. The last came during the 2013-14 Conference title-winning season when Mark Cullen scored the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round win on 26th October, 2013.
A month earlier, Cullen had hit a brace, Alex Lacey one and Andre Gray the other as the Hatters romped to a 4-0 league win on 24th September 2013.
Admission prices tonight are £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, with the game kicking off at 7.45pm.
If you are unable to attend tonight's game, we’ll be tweeting live updates of the action and posting a match report, picture gallery and manager/player interviews on lutontown.co.uk after the final whistle.