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Club News

Rest in peace, Joe Kinnear

8 April 2024

Club News

Rest in peace, Joe Kinnear

8 April 2024

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Joe Kinnear - 27th December 1946– 7th April 2024.

News has reached Kenilworth Road of the passing of former Hatters manager Joe Kinnear at the age of 77 after a long battle with dementia.

Born in Dublin, Joe moved with his parents to Watford at an early age and was first spotted on a football pitch playing for St Albans City which led to him being snapped up by Tottenham in 1963.

Making his debut for Spurs in 1966 he went on to make over 200 appearances for the White Hart Lane club, mostly at full-back, including an FA Cup final win in 1967, a UEFA Cup medal five years later as well as two League Cup winners tankards. On his footballing journey he also turned out 26 times for the Republic of Ireland.

Joe finished his playing career with a season at Brighton in 1975 before five years coaching and managing in the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Nepal before returning to the UK with Doncaster Rovers.

It was at Wimbledon though that he made his mark in management and after taking over in January 1992 he consistently saw his unfashionable side finish in the top ten in the Premier League to defy all the odds.

A major heart attack in March 1999 saw him stand down at Plough Lane but once he was given the ‘all-clear’ returned to football as Director of Football at Oxford United before being enticed to relegation threatened Luton in a similar position in February 2001.

Joe Kinnear with his manager of the month award at Kenilworth Road

Soon assuming the role of team manager, Joe saw the Town go on a winning run which, sadly, could not be maintained with the Hatters dropping to the fourth tier for the first time since 1968.

The summer of 2001 saw so many changes on the playing side that never a day went by as Joe, living up to his ‘wheeler dealer’ reputation, introduced new faces to the squad.

Five new players made their debuts on the opening day of 2001-02 and by mid-October no fewer than eleven players had pulled on a Luton shirt for the first time.

Once the new players had gelled the Town turned into a formidable outfit which produced some brilliant football and a season to remember, with twelve straight wins being recorded at one stage, as promotion was achieved at the first time of asking. Joe was the undoubted leader of this ‘band of brothers’ and stole the limelight on many occasions by making some outrageous comments for effect aimed at the opposition but Luton supporters loved him for that all the more!

Joe Kinnear and his squad celebrate promotion in 2001-02

A solid ninth position was achieved the following season but just as Joe and his assistant Mick Harford were preparing for the 2003-04 campaign a summer of turmoil at Kenilworth Road saw the pair being dismissed by letter by new ‘owner’ John Gurney.  A bizarre and disappointing end to a colourful period in Luton Town’s history.

Joe bounced back from this and took charge at Nottingham Forest, saving them from relegation, before eventually returning to the top flight with Newcastle where he was never far from controversy.

His last role in the game was as Director of Football at Newcastle where he resigned in 2014.

Our condolences go out to all his family and friends at this sad time.

Joe Kinnear as Luton Town manager

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