Luton will become the fifth club we have played in all four divisions when we meet at the Gtech on Saturday.
The Premier League new boys will follow Grimsby, Huddersfield, Watford and Bournemouth as opponents of ours across all the leagues.
The Hatters completed a rise from the National League to the Premier League in only 10 years when they beat Coventry 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the play-off final in May.
It is not their first spell in the top flight – they were in the old Division One for 10 years from 1982 – but the fact they have returned following relegation from the Football League, after a 30-point deduction, makes it all the more remarkable.
Luton will arrive this weekend buoyed by four points from their last two home games – a 1-1 draw with Liverpool which they nearly won and then their first home win of the season last Saturday, over Crystal Palace.
That 2-1 victory, with the winner made by ex-Bee Chiedozie Ogbene, maintained their place as the highest in the table of last season’s promoted clubs – sitting in 17th place on nine points.
Away from Kenilworth Road, they have won 2-1 at Everton and drawn 2-2 at Nottingham Forest, although they lost their other games on the road 4-1 at Brighton, 3-0 at Chelsea, 1-0 at Fulham, 3-1 at Aston Villa and 1-0 at Manchester United.
Saturday will be their first visit to our new home with fans.
The Hatters have had plenty of ups and downs in recent years.
They suffered three successive relegations to plunge from the second tier into non-league football from 2006 to 2009, andspent five years in the National League – losing in one play-off semi-final and two finals – before finally returning to the Football League by winning the title with 101 points in 2013/14.
They then spent four seasons in League Two – losing in the play-offs in the third, before clinching promotion in second place in 2017/18.
The Hatters made it back-to-back promotions the following season by winning the League One title and then, as mentioned earlier, reached the Premier League at the end of last season.
Luton have had some cup success in the not too distant past – winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in their relegation season from the league, and famously the Littlewoods Cup in 1987/88 with a 3-2 win over Arsenal in the final.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Rob Edwards was appointed as Luton manager in November last year, after Nathan Jones left the club for Southampton..
He had started the season in charge of the Hatters’ rivals Watford, but was sacked at the end of September after winning three of his first 10 matches in charge.
Edwards landed his first permanent job as a Football League boss when he was appointed as Forest Green’s head coach at the end of May 2021 – leaving his role as head coach of the England under-16 team to take the post, and led them to their first promotion to League One, before moving to Vicarage Road at the end of the season.
He was previously in charge of non-League AFC Telford and also had two games as caretaker-manager of Wolves, before becoming the club’s under-23 coach.
As a player, he was a centre-half and won 15 full caps for Wales during a career in which he played for Aston Villa, Wolves, Blackpool and Barnsley.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
We have met Luton many times over the years but only in two recent seasons when we were in the Championship together between 2019 and 2021.
The home game at the end of November was Josh Dasilva’s day as he claimed the first hat-trick of his career.
We were 5-0 up at half-time after a ruthless first-half display.
Bryan Mbeumo capitalised on a defensive mix-up to give us a sixth-minute lead, before two goals in four minutes around the half-hour mark – first when Dasilva set up a goal for Ollie Watkins, who in turn created an opportunity for Mathias Jensen, and suddenly it was 3-0.
Dasilva scored his first two just before the break – a trademark curling left-foot shot from the edge of the area, and then a rare right-footed goal after being set up by Said Benrahma.
Two penalties completed the scoring in the second half, with Benrahma tucking away the first before handing the ball to Dasilva to complete his treble with the second in the 87th minute.
It was our biggest win since beating Plymouth 7-0 in December 1994, and took us up to seventh in the table – one point outside the play-off zone – but left Luton in 21st, one point above the relegation places.
The return in late February – the last midweek game we played before the season was halted because of the Covid pandemic – was rather different, as we slumped to defeat.
An own goal by Shandon Baptiste gave the Hatters a ninth-minute lead, which was doubled by Martin Cranie in first-half injury-time, when we failed to clear a free-kick.
Ollie Watkins gave us late hope as he pulled one back with his 22nd goal of the season in the 83rd minute, but we couldn’t find the equaliser as our five-match unbeaten run ended, and our fans had to trudge away in falling show at full-time.
We dropped to fifth in the table, but three points clear of seventh-placed Bristol City, while Luton’s third win in four games moved them off bottom place and two points above Barnsley.
We gained revenge for that defeat when we went back to Kenilworth Road in October 2020 and came away with a 3-0 win.
Rico Henry put us ahead with a low shot in the 20th minute, with only his second goal for the club and his first since January 2019.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0 as Ivan Toney scored his ninth goal of the season from close range, and the fourth made for him by Bryan Mbeumo in the campaign.
Substitute Marcus Forss sealed the points in the 76th minute with his first touch, after being put through by fellow replacement Mathias Jensen.
We moved up to ninth in the table, while Luton dropped to 13th.
The return match was a close affair, settled by Saman Ghoddos’s 14th-minute header – his first goal for the club. In stoppage-time, Ivan Toney and Tom Lockyer were sent off after an off-the-ball clash.
The win took us up to third in the Championship and stretched our unbeaten Championship run to 16 games, while Luton dropped to 13th.
Before those two years, our previous home game with Luton was a special occasion for us, but a sad day for the Hatters.
It was the final game of our League Two title-winning 2008/09 season, while they had already been relegated – making it the Hatters’ last Football League match for a while.
Goals in the final 18 minutes from current Bees women’s team manager Karleigh Osborne, his fourth of the season, and Adam Newton, his first for the club in what proved to be his final Bees appearance, gave us a 2-0 win and kicked off the title celebrations in style in front of more than 10,000 fans.
It completed the double over the Hatters, following our midweek 1-0 win at Kenilworth Road the previous November, which was settled by a first half Nathan Elder goal. Luton had Keith Keane sent off late on.
BBC Three Counties Radio’s sports editor Geoff Doyle analyses Luton’s campaign, discusses Rob Edwards’ reign at the club and looks at the impact made by ex-Bee Chiedozie Ogbene since he joined the Hatters in the summer,
Q – How would you assess Luton’s season so far?
A – So far so good. They are four points above the relegation zone, so they are on target to achieve what they set out to do. Considering where they have come from in the last 10-15 years, how much they spent in the summer on players (about £25 million) and the top sides and vast wealth they’re up against it would be a remarkable achievement if they stayed up. Everyone knew it was going to be difficult but Luton have equipped themselves well and adapted to life in the top flight pretty quickly. The fans are right behind the team and appreciate just how big a jump Luton have made. Their support even in defeat has been amazing and they have loved and deserved the two wins so far.
Q – What were the club’s hopes at the start of the campaign?
A – To finish above the relegation zone and claim another £100 odd million. Luton are in the process of leaving their much-loved home at Kenilworth Road and moving into a plush new one in the town centre at Powercourt. Promotion last season has gone some way to paying for that. Staying in the top flight would near enough do it. They’ve been written off by plenty of pundits but this is a special bunch; team spirit, attitude and commitment are qualities you would expect all teams to have but it’s not the case – the Hatters have all that in abundance. Add talented under-rated players who continue to improve and develop and it’s a recipe for success.
Q – How much did Rob Edwards change when taking over and how would you sum up his time in charge so far?
A – Rob Edwards was very cute in not disrupting too much initially as the team were already on a bit of a roll. But he did tinker obviously and that has continued throughout his time at the club. He’s hardly put a foot wrong really, guiding them to the play-off final and then dramatically winning that. And he’s coped well in the Premier League. He’s had to drastically change tactics and principles in the Prem. Luton can’t do what they did so often in the Championship and press aggressively high up the pitch. Teams are too good for that and he knows they would lose shape and get picked off. He’s found a pretty good balance. Luton have competed in every game and haven’t taken a walloping anywhere. Most matches have been fairly tight. The only time they were outplayed for long stretches of the game was at Aston Villa. But that’s one out of 13.
Q – What impact has ex-Bee Chiedozie Ogbene had since arriving at the club?
A – Stunning. He has probably been Luton’s stand-out player of the season so far. There are plenty of candidates but Ogbene tops the list. He had to wait for his chance initially but once given it he hasn’t looked back. Everyone will always go on about his pace (he has been clocked as the fastest player in the league) but that doesn’t tell anywhere near the story. His technique improves game on game, his awareness and movement is good. His dribbling skills are excellent and he’s delivering key crosses and moments. Teams are scared of Ogbene and he has caused many problems to most. His big smile and infectious personality add to the charm and make him a big fans’ favourite.
Q – How far have the Hatters got with their plans for a new stadium?
A – As is often the case it’s taking longer than hoped but Luton weren’t helped with the Covid epidemic hitting when it did, the economy struggling and boats getting stuck in a canal! Costs have risen significantly and due to the uncertain economic and worldwide landscape the development has been put back a bit. But work is going on in the town centre to clear up the site (it’s quite complicated involving power stations and rivers!) in readiness for the building work to begin. It’s been a long drawn-out process but the Luton board and CEO Gary Sweet have done a magnificent job ploughing on. It WILL happen so the message has been enjoy the Kenny while you can.
Q – What do you remember of past matches between the sides?
A – One very unpleasant one nearly four years to the day!! November 2019 when Luton were getting to grips with the Championship having just been promoted. They were struggling to cope under Graeme Jones and I remember turning up at Griffin Road with the fear. And my instincts proved correct. The Hatters got an absolute pasting and were completely outclassed 7-0. Said Benrahma was absolutely amazing that day. At one point I think he did an over-the-head rainbow-flick skill on one of the Luton players. Bryan Mbeumo played well too. The Hatters fans weren’t happy with Jones after the match and told him so in no uncertain terms. At least Luton made amends later that season and beat Brentford 2-1 at the Kenny.
Q – Finally, can you give me a possible Luton formation and line-up please?
A – 3-4-3 although away from home that can look a lot like 5-4-1. Luton are well set-up with a good defensive structure and shape. If Marvellous Nakamba is fit he’ll slot into midfield. Issa Kabore could be back at RWB after a concussion:
Mengi Lockyer Osho
Doughty Barkley Ruddock-Mpanzu Bell
Townsend Morris Ogbene
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Saturday’s 3.00pm kick-off and want Brentford commentary, audio coverage is available via Buzz Box for free.
Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free, with Mark Burridge and Karleigh Osborne.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Luton fans coming to the Gtech Community Stadium for the first time, there are plenty of pub options pre and post-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
The pub areas are split into two zones. There is the area around Brentford’s old Griffin Park stadium. The pubs there are still very busy on match day frequented by Bees locals before heading down the road to the stadium at Kew Bridge which is only 15 mins walk.
Then there is the area in and around the stadium in Kew Bridge.
It is possible, if you have a good early start, to savour a few pubs in and around Griffin Park and Brentford zone before heading off to the pubs in the Kew zone or even vice versa if you so fancy.
Pubs in Griffin Park/Brentford zone
When at Griffin Park, Brentford was well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground. Three are still operating.
The Griffin is closest to the old away end and has always been very popular with both home and away fans and has its regulars who still make the journey down to the new stadium from there on matchday. The New Inn is on the other side which used to also be popular with away fans before the move. The Brook pub is the other option if you want to savour a pub in and around what is left of our old home. Worth a peep if you want to reminisce about old Brentford.
About five minutes’ walk away from the old ground are two pubs which are enormously popular. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is a “lively but comfortable” pub on matchday. Incredibly friendly and cosy, it has always been popular with a selection of away fans who fancied having a beer a few minutes further walk away from the ground without having to queue six persons deep. After the move to the new ground, The Globe has retained many of lot its regulars from the Griffin Park days and with screens throughout the pub and in its sheltered beer garden, it shows both Premier League and EFL football before and after each match.
Meanwhile around the corner, The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) is another incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs about one minute walk from The Globe. Again with a TV screen for live sports and a lovely beer garden, this is another pub frequented by “away fans in the know”.
The other pub worth checking out in the Griffin Park region is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, if you like your real ales.
There are plenty of other pubs in and around Brentford High Street including real ale pub Magpie and Crown (Brentford High Street) and the cosy Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) near the river.
For a Griffin Park area pub crawl before heading over to Kew we recommend the following: Take the Piccadilly line to Northfields station. Turn left and walk for 2 mins and you will come to The Plough (Northfields Ave). Then walk to The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & then The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before hitting The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) and then The Black Dog (2 mins from The Griffin). You can also try and do the other three pubs on the corner whilst down here if you fancy.
Then you can then either walk (15 minutes from The Globe/The Nelson and The Griffin/Black Dog ) or take a train from Brentford station (which is five minutes walk away from both The Globe/The Nelson and The Griffin/Black Dog) or a bus (237/267) to Kew Bridge.
Trains run at 24 and 54 minutes past the hour to Kew Bridge from Brentford and take 2 mins.
Pubs in the Kew Bridge zone
Right next to Kew Bridge station, you will find the Express Tavern – an ale pub with a retro feel. The pub has been refurbished in readiness for the new football season and needless to say, is popular before the match due to its close proximity to the stadium.
Across the road by the river is One Over the Ait – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889.
Across Kew Bridge and the River Thames, there are two pubs on Kew Green – the Cricketers and the Greyhound – very close to the pier where Brentford fans have embarked on their away journeys by water to F*lham, Orient, Charlton, West Ham and even Southend.
North of the river along hoity-toity Strand on the Green, you will find The Steam Packet, in an old Cafe Rouge, and The Bell. A bit further down are The City Barge and the Bulls Head – two pubs side-by-side in which you would often see Ant and Dec hanging out.
There is also The Pilot which you can get to coming out of the BACK entrance of Gunnersbury station and we believe the old John Bull pub at the front of the station has been refurbed as The Gunnersbury but we have never been there so can’t give it a or a
Transport to Brentford and Kew Bridge
The simplest on paper to get to Brentford FC from town is to get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) and then take the Overground train to Kew Bridge, which is right by the stadium. Brentford is one stop further on if you are on an ‘Original Griffin Park Pub’ mission.
With trains from Waterloo being only twice an hour (22 and 52) and taking 28 minutes, we normally recommend people jump on the tube from Kings Cross or Euston and head to Northfields or South Ealing on the Piccadilly Line as it is quicker (including the time getting across London and waiting at Waterloo) and trains are more frequent.
It is only 40 mins max station by tube to station meaning you could be in a Brentford pub within an hour of embarking your train at Kings Cross, Euston or Liverpool Street.
The other station option is Gunnersbury. You can walk to the stadium from Gunnersbury tube station (District line) in 25 minutes or take a bus (H91, 237, 267, 110), but note that it is closed for entry for one hour after the match.
For the Brentford/Griffin Park pubs you can get the Piccadilly line tube to Northfields station from King’s Cross or Euston (35 minutes) then walk down to The Plough, The Globe, The Lord Nelson and The Griffin and other pubs from there.
The new stadium is around 25 minutes’ walk from South Ealing station – if you don’t fancy Gunnersbury – or you can get on the 65 bus from across the road which will drop you almost outside in 15 minutes.
You can also pick up the 65 bus from Ealing Broadway (district and central line) which will take you to the new stadium in 25 minutes.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.