LUTON’S OLD GIRL, THE £10M FACELIFTNakamba set for date with history

THE last time Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road home hosted an English top-flight league game was on April 25, 1992.

The Hatters beat Aston Villa 2-0 before 11 178 fans but, one game later, they were out of the top-flight league.

Tonight, Kenilworth Road will host a top-flight league match for the first time in more than 30 years.

Luton take on West Ham in the first Premiership game at Kenilworth Road.

Affectionately known as ‘The Old Girl,’ the place, which Marvelous Nakamba now calls home, has undergone a £10m transformation.

And, almost everything has changed since the stadium last hosted a similar match – the league’s name, its worldwide acclaim, the money, the scrutiny, the science, the speed and the quality have all changed. Luton have been on a wild ride of their

own, nearly going out of existence before dropping into non-league as recently as 2009, and then embarking on a rise back to the top the like of which no-one could see coming.

But, throughout that whole rollercoaster, one thing has kept its comforting nostalgia.

The Kenny is known affectionately as ‘The Old Girl’ for a good reason, as it has barely been touched since Luton’s last top-flight match before relegation in 1992.

The most striking aspect about the ‘The Kenny’ — which has been the home of Luton Town since 1905 — is the Oak Road stand, surrounded by a block of red bricks housing local residents, where away fans enter.

There are two stand entrances on the road: gates six-seven and eight.

The stand is situated alongside a line of terraced houses. That is not the only thing on the road, however.

There are also four independent businesses.

Gate six-seven stands between house No 91 and 87.

Gate eight, meanwhile, is in the middle of 99 and 103.

CEO Gary Sweet said: “While it has been a necessity to upgrade facilities for the media, we have also invested in amenities for supporters in order to enhance their matchday experience and to compensate for the changes.

“Our thanks go to all residents and staff who have endured the last three months. Most importantly come and enjoy your evening.”

At least 50 media seats needed to be in place, as well as a media conference room that can host up to 70 people.

Luton’s television gantry required improvement for broadcasting in the Premier League.

At least 30 TV and radio commentary points were needed along with seven pitchside presentation areas. Systems for VAR cameras, which Kenilworth Road has never used, was another requirement.

On the opposite side of the Oak Road entrances, there are two businesses: one sells cakes, the other beds.

There is a burger bar and beauty salon on the other side.

An owner of an independent shop on Oak Road, who did not want to be named, says their business performs poorly when a game is on.

“Some fans urinate in front of my shop, on the windows and near the houses. It’s disgusting and can stain the windows,” he said. – Sports Reporter/Sky Sports/The Athletic

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