We live INSIDE Luton Town’s famous entrance – footballs smash our windows but there are some surprising perks
STROLLING along Oak Road in Luton, the row of Victorian red brick terraced houses feel just like any other street.
But halfway down the road, homes have effectively been cut in half to make way for two entrances to the town’s football ground, Kenilworth Road.
Home to Luton Town FC – the ground was built in 1905 and is one of the most unique in the football league.
Visiting fans climb bright blue metal staircases perched above resident’s gardens to access the away stand, while patios from adjacent houses back onto the stadium.
Their new stand and stadium upgrade build meant their first home Premier League match was postponed.
Since then, they’ve faced a race against time after the club were handed an estimated £10million bill to rebuild its long-standing ground.
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Finally, they were able to open up their ground again on August 29 for the EFL Cup game against Gillingham.
For locals who live on the street, the thought of the team moving to a new ground throws up mixed feelings.
Abdul Ali’s family home is metres away from the entrance and backs onto the ground.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” he tells The Sun. “Until about seven years ago it was really easy to see into the stadium.
“We used to have footballs smashing our window every so often when they accidentally got kicked out when teams tried to score.
“It was kind of annoying at the time, it used to drive my dad mad.
“We complained and complained and the club finally put up netting and some corrugated iron to stop it.
“It means that my view of the pitch is gone unless I jump up and down on my bed. Then I can see a little bit of the grass, but not enough to watch the game.”
On match days, Abdul says there is always a sea of police on the street – which, he adds, comes with an unusual perk.
We used to have footballs smashing our window every so often when they accidentally got kicked out when teams tried to score… it drove my dad mad
Abdul Ali, Oak Road resident
“I went out during Sunday’s game to get some food and then police escorted me back to my house,” he says.
“It’s kind of cool being escorted home.”
One of the unique entrances on Oak Road provides access to The Bobbers’ Club – part of the Luton Town football ground for 89 years.
On leaving the street – where house prices cost an average of £222,500 – fans are led down a small alleyway before they clamber the iron stairs to a terrace leading onto the Oak Stand.
Mum-of-four Anu’s garden runs beneath the terrace, and she tells us stray footballs often end up landing in it.
“They’ve only ever asked for the ball back once,” she admits. “We’ve kept the others.”
Anu, 52, says local families in the area used to get complimentary passes to matches from the club, but that’s not happened since Covid.
“We used to get a family ticket to go in the summer which was nice,” she says.
“We’d go and see a match against one of the smaller teams. It was good to get in the ground.
“My son’s bedroom in the attic enables him to see a bit of the ground so he can sometimes see the games.”
My son’s bedroom in the attic enables him to see a bit of the ground so he can sometimes see the games
Anu, local mum-of-four
Anu’s neighbour LeeLee says she loves the buzz of match days, adding: “It makes me feel alive. I love it.
“It keeps things interesting around here. I rarely have any problems with the fans.”
Sadly Anu doesn’t share her enthusiasm.
She claims she’s fed up of hooligans chucking rubbish from the steps into her garden as they come and go.
“Last week my house was egged by fans, they leave cans and bottles in front of my house,” she tells us.
“They spray alcohol on to mine and my neighbour’s windows and drop litter from the stairs as they go into the stands.”
‘I’ll never leave’
Many families living on Oak Road have grown up in the area and are lifelong fans of the club.
Joumna’s childhood home backed on to the stadium and she’s since moved into her own property across the road.
The 49-year-old admits she’s noticed fan behaviour has changed over the years, adding: “I remember as a child we didn’t have as many problems.
“Now, whichever team loses, the fans are shouting and swearing. It’s a shame.”
She adds: “The stadium is alright with me. I was born on this road and I’ll probably never leave.
“It was fine when I lived overlooking it. We never had any issues.”
Driven to despair
But there is one issue that drives all residents up the wall – parking.
Everyone who keeps a car on the street – a permit for which costs £60 a year – has to move it off Oak Road on game days or it will be seized.
“Parking is such a problem around here,” resident Amanpreet, 34, tells us.
“The stadium is a problem now because it attracts so many people. We have to move our car on match days but finding a space can be hard.”
Fellow resident Malik, a 37-year-old customer services worker, shares her frustration.
He claims he wouldn’t have bought a house if he’d realised how disruptive the road closures would be.
“I’m not happy because I pay to park my car on this road and I have to move it regularly,” he says.
“If the game is at 5pm we have to move the car at around 10am. It’s really difficult with two young kids – it’s frustrating.”
Another local, Khuram, 38, adds: “The parking issue is a struggle.
“I have two young kids and walking them several streets over to the car on match days between fans is stressful.
“There are lots of police on match days which is good, but we often have to show that we live here to get through at the end of the road.
“The only time I have an issue with the stadium is match days because it’s disruptive.”
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