Midfielder's all settled in and loving Luton life
Hatters midfielder Jake Gray has been making himself feel at home at Kenilworth Road since signing from Crystal Palace two months ago – but tonight the 21-year-old is looking forward to returning to the club that helped him become domesticated!
The 20-year-old spent most of last season on loan at Hartlepool, scoring six times in 30 starts and three substitute appearances. But it was off the field, where he lived on his own for the first time after being in digs with Palace, that he also gained valuable experience.
In a Hatters Player interview (click here) conducted moments before he boarded the team coach for the road trip north to Darlington, where the team stayed last night in preparation for tonight’s Sky Bet League Two encounter, Gray said: “I was lucky enough that Ronnie Moore, the manager at the time, gave me my chance to go up there and he gave me games.
“I really enjoyed it and I haven’t got a bad word to say about them. It was the first time I had to start cooking and cleaning for myself, stuff like that, so I think I became a better person for it.
“It was a real good experience and I’m looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces, but three points are the main thing.”
Gray helped the Town to a maximum haul on Saturday against Doncaster when manager Nathan Jones threw him into the fray immediately after Cameron McGeehan had netted the 36th-minute equaliser, with his away trip room-mate Jordan Cook having to go off injured.
“I thought I did all right,” said Gray. “It was just nice to be back out there – it’s been a while. I felt good and hopefully I can push on now. It was a massive three points for us. Hopefully we can kick on now and go on a long run.”
His appearance against Rovers came four days after he created two of the Town Development Squad’s goals in the 4-2 Beds FA Premier Cup final win at Barton Rovers – a match in which Gray, and fellow first-teamers Alex Gilliead and Isaac Vassell showed exemplary attitude and commitment.
The Aylesbury-based midfielder said: “The gaffer asked me if I wanted to play in that and I said yes. It was nice to get a run-out and it’s always nice winning trophies, no matter what they are. The boys did well. It was a good night.
“If I hadn’t played in that game, I might have been a bit rustier and the gaffer might not have put me on, because I haven’t been playing as much. So that hour at Barton might have helped me be the first choice to go on at the weekend. It was a good night and no-one wanted to sack it off. We are all winners at the end of the day. We all want to win games.”
In total, Gray has made four starts and three sub appearances, scoring once in the EFL Cup win over Aston Villa, as he settles into life at Luton.
The former Wycombe schoolboy adds: “A couple of months have flown by, but I’m really enjoying it. Performances have been good and all the boys have helped me settle in. I’m making some good friends.”
Anyone travelling up to Victoria Park to support Jake and the boys is advised that although pay on the night admission is in operation, you must go to the Hartlepool ticket office to purchase a ticket before heading to the turnstile. There are no cash turnstiles in operation.
Only seated accommodation is available for visiting supporters in the Rink End (current capacity 1035 including disabled enclosure), on the Clarence Road side of the ground (East side). Entry is via turnstiles 1 and 2.
Admission prices are £20 for adults and £10 for concessions (Over 60s, Students, Armed Forces, Under 19’s and Under 16’s). Hartlepool advise that they carry out spot checks on proof of age, so please carry relevant ID.
For a plan of the ground please visit Hartlepool's official website and click on “Club” and “Victoria Park”.
Hartlepool also stress: “It is imperative that fans do not stand in seated areas due to strict regulations set by the Football Licensing Authority. Persistent standing could result in disciplinary action taken against both home and away clubs and against the fans themselves.”