Former Hatters defender dies, aged 60.
Everyone at Kenilworth Road has been shocked to hear of the death of Paul Futcher at the age of only 60.
No sooner had promotion back to the top flight been achieved in 1974 when Luton manager Harry Haslam announced that the club’s transfer fee record was about to be broken with the signing of 17 year old Paul Futcher from Chester City.
The eventual fee agreed was £100000 for a teenager who, according the Chester manager Ken Roberts, was a certainty to play for England. Even so this was a massive price to pay for a virtually untried teenager who had played only 20 League games.
Harry Haslam, in snatching Paul from under the nose of Manchester City, declared that he was buying for the future and was confident that the youngster would be worth three times the amount paid in 12 months.
Soon after the signing it was announced that Paul’s twin brother Ron would be joining the Town for £25000 in order ‘to keep him company’ although supporters knew that Haslam was not daft and that he had other reasons for the signing which were eventually shown with the almost telepathic understanding between the brothers on the pitch.
Paul made his debut in central defence for a struggling Hatters side at Chelsea in December 1974 where he played with a maturity which belied his tender years, stroking the ball around like a veteran. He was joined by his brother for the Christmas games and the fun then really started as all balls played out of defence by Paul seemed to home in on Ron.
The Town almost escaped the drop that season and although wise with hindsight fans were left wondering what would have happened had the Futcher twins been given their chance earlier.
Paul continued to earn rave reviews in Division Two (now the Championship) and became a regular in the England under-21 set-up which bought about continued transfer speculation and which ended in June 1978 when Manchester City finally got their man in exchange for £350000.
After two years at Maine Road, Paul went on to Oldham, Derby, Barnsley, Halifax and Grimsby before managing a number of non-League clubs which included Southport who he took to the F.A. Trophy final in 1998.
Latterly, Paul was working at a Huddersfield college close to his home in Holmfirth.
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet remembers watching Futcher in his second season as a Luton Town supporter. “Paul was simply a class above. He joined in my second full season as a fan and became an instant hero of mine. He was up there with the very best I’ve ever seen play for the Club and has remained there. Paul was a silky, rock-steady defender who had such amazing technical ability and, more than anything, a cool-head that left thousands in awe. He will live long in the memory of anyone who saw him play.” he said.
The condolences of everyone at Luton Town Football Club go out to all of Paul's family and friends.