Everyone at Kenilworth Road has been saddened to learn of the passing of Alan Daniel, a full-back for the Hatters in the late 50s and early 60s whose blossoming career was cut short by a snapped Achilles tendon.
Born in Ashford, Kent, Alan actually moved to Luton at a young age as his father Mel was signed up by the Hatters as the War drew to a close. Mel actually netted a hat-trick for the Town on the opening day of the 1946-47 season.
Leaving Luton for Aldershot and then Betteshanger, the Daniel family settled back in Ashford where young Alan soon displayed his own footballing talents.
Starring for Bexleyheath and Welling, who were the Charlton nursery side, Alan caught the eye of several clubs with his full-back displays but it was the Town who won the race for his signature although surprisingly it had nothing to do with his father.
Working his way up through the levels at Kenilworth Road, Alan got his first team chance at West Brom in 1959 just after his 19th birthday. Also making his debut that day was Mike Dixon (Kerry’s dad) in the 2-0 defeat but Alan was left thirsting for more.
Alan was in and out of the first team over the next three seasons but had really established himself in the side at right-back in 1962-63 before a freak training accident in September 1963 put his career on hold.
Leap-frogging over each other in training around the pitch at Kenilworth Road, Alan fell awkwardly in a pothole. Misdiagnosed initially as an ankle sprain, he was made to run up and down the terraces in a bid to get fit but the injury worsened and by the time a snapped Achilles had been diagnosed it was too late. He was told that if he continued to play and the Achilles snapped again he would end up a cripple.
Only 23 at the time of the injury, and with his career ahead of him, Alan was forced to give up the job he loved and went to work in engineering for 25 years before taking up a driving job with Keech Cottage Hospice.
Alan retained a keen interest in the Hatters, was often seen at Kenilworth Road and was a welcome guest of the club for the ‘100 years at Kenilworth Road’ celebration in 2005. He used that opportunity to recount the fact that he was given the unenviable task of marking Tom Finney in the ‘Preston Plumbers’ last game at Deepdale in 1960. The whole crowd plus some of Alan’s teammates were willing Finney to score but Alan remained professional and did not give him a kick!
Our condolences go out to all Alan’s family and friends at this sad time.