Hatters' Wembley goal hero passes away, aged 79
Everyone at Kenilworth Road has been saddened to learn of the death of Dave Pacey a true ‘local boy makes good’ and who scored the Town’s goal in the club’s only, so far, visit to Wembley for an FA Cup final.
Born in Luton, Dave stood on the terraces at Kenilworth Road as a boy and, after starring for Luton Schoolboys, was developed by Hitchin Town where he made their Athenian League side as a wing-half, whilst also being on the Town’s books as an amateur.
Whilst serving in the Army on National Service, Dave was stationed with someone on Arsenal’s books who recommended him to Gunners manager Jack Crayston. This led to a trial at Highbury but when the Hatters found out they immediately sent director Tom Hodgson to Newton Abbot, where Dave was stationed, to ensure he signed professional forms for his hometown club on leaving the services.
Dave duly signed for Luton and made his League debut in a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Christmas Day 1957. He held his place in the return at Kenilworth Road the following day and by the middle of February 1958, such was the Town’s belief that a diamond had been unearthed, Reg Pearce the regular number six was allowed to move to Sunderland for a big fee.
The highlight of Dave’s career came the following season when the Town fought through to the FA Cup final at Wembley where they took on Nottingham Forest. Sadly, the Hatters failed to find anything like their normal form on the day although Dave could take small consolation when scoring the Hatters' goal in the 2-1 defeat.
Although Dave was still a youngster by comparison, the rest of the side had aged together and the team plummeted down the divisions to reach today’s equivalent of League Two by 1965.
Dave then decided to call it a day at Kenilworth Road after 280 first team appearances and 19 goals before enjoying three seasons at Kettering, followed by a regular game with Electrolux for whom he worked for many years.
Dave was a welcome honoured guest at Kenilworth Road on the occasion of the club’s ‘100 years at Kenilworth Road’ celebration in 2005, as well as the earlier gathering of the 1959 legends on the 40th anniversary of the FA Cup final appearance before during and after the home game against Macclesfield in 1999.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to all Dave’s family and friends.