It's officially goodbye as stalwarts' contracts expire today
Today sees the official end of the Luton Town careers of those players not retained at the end of last season, with the expiry of their contracts at Kenilworth Road.
We would like to wish Ryan Hall, Isaac Galliford, Mark Onyemah, Luke Trotman and Curtley Williams well for the future, and express special thanks to Paul Benson, Scott Griffiths, Alex Lawless and Jake Howells for the starring roles they played in helping the Hatters regain Football League status during the Conference championship success of 2013-14.
Long-serving duo Alex and Jake have been terrific servants to the Town in recent seasons, with Alex passing the 200 appearance mark in the 3-2 win at Oxford United in April, and Jake making the 15th highest number of appearances for the club with his 334 total just one short of Julian James and Andy Rennie in joint 14th.
Jake hit 31 goals in the eight years that followed his debut as a 17-year-old on the final day of the 2007-08 League One campaign.
He was capped by both England C and Wales Under-21s, and became a fans’ favourite whether playing left-back, on the wing or in midfield.
Jake is currently preparing for the new season with Vanarama National League club Eastleigh, and the 25-year-old told lutontown.co.uk: “I’d like to thank the fans for their support over my eight years at the club.
“It was a privilege to play over 300 games for Luton Town and to be in the top 15 club appearance makers of all-time.
“Hopefully all the bad times are now behind the club and they are heading in the right direction. I wish everyone at Kenilworth Road every bit of luck, and I hope to cross paths again one day.
“I’d also like to thank the club for everything they have done for me over the years, and for giving me a platform in my career.”
Alex finished his Hatters career on 203 appearances after signing from York City in November 2010, initially on loan.
He scored in his second game, the winner at Altrincham, and went on to net 22 times in total – including the winner in the FA Cup third round tie with Wolves in January 2013 that set up our historic trip to Norwich City.
He also scored on his first Football League start for the club in a 2-0 win over Southend United – a strike that was also voted goal of the season for 2014-15 – and like Jake, the 31-year-old was renowned for his versatility in midfield or defence.
Last season, for example, he played a different position in each of four successive games – right-back at Newport, left-back against Peterborough in the FA Cup, left-wing in the next game against Northampton and then central midfield at Exeter!
Still to sign for a new club for 2016-17, Alex told lutontown.co.uk this morning: “It’s still strange to think I won’t be with the club this season. I will miss a lot of friends that I’ve made and I’ll miss playing at Kenilworth Road in front of so many passionate fans.
“I’d like to thank the fans and the club for all their support over the years and for the opportunities I’ve been given. It’s been an honour and I wish them future success.
“It’s a nice thought to think I’ll maybe get the chance to be involved with the club again in the future in some capacity.”
To all nine of our now former players, we wish you well in the next stage of your career and thank you for your valuable contributions to Luton Town Football Club.