Address: 1 Maple Road East,
Capacity: 10,226 (All-Seater)
In a list of the best stadiums in English league football, there’s always one that must come last. Kenilworth Road is considered by many to be up there with the worst football grounds in the country, and it’s clear that its tenants have outgrown their home.
Kenilworth Road is a unique stadium but, speaking as a person who made his first trips here as an away fan, it’s a place that will likely stay in your mind for all the wrong reasons.
Built in 1905, Luton Town Football Club moved into here from their previous home Dunstable Road that same year. The Hatters were forced to leave their former ground after their landlord sold the site for housing at short notice. Directors quickly found a new location.
The stadium was originally known as Ivy Lane but took its current name after the road which runs outside the South Stand.
Location and Getting There
Kenilworth Road Stadium is located in Bury Park, tightly packed into a residential estate and based roughly one mile west of Luton Town Centre.
Coming by car certainly is possible but the streets around Kenilworth Road are extremely tight and used by residents of all the houses nearby.
You will likely have to park a very good distance away, probably further than the train station is, but you might find luck with spaces in the industrial estate on Dallow Road, which is beyond Kenilworth Road’s West Stand and on the south side of Hatters Way (A505).
Luton Train Station is the closest railway station to the ground, less than 20 minutes walk away to the east.
Outside the Stadium
It's the low level of accessibility at Kenilworth Road that makes the stadium unpopular for those who don’t visit regularly. You can only walk the whole way along three stands, one of these being the South Stand, known as the Kenilworth Road End after the street outside of it.
The exterior certainly isn’t the most appealing, with the roof made of dull, corrugated iron and the turnstiles part of a wire fence that home fans must pass through before entering the stand itself.
Luton Town’s Club Shop is located in a separate building next to the Kenilworth Road End. It has a one-way system, with the entrance next to the road and the exit bringing you out close to the Main Ticket Office.
The west side of Kenilworth Road is divided into two stands, the larger Main Stand and the smaller David Preece Stand.
David Preece was born in Shropshire on 28th May 1963. A midfielder who played for clubs in the Football League and Non-League, he made nearly 400 appearances for Luton Town between 1984 and 1995, winning the League Cup with the Hatters in 1988.
Preece passed away on 20th July 2007 at the age of 44. What was once called the Family Stand at Kenilworth Road has since been renamed in his honour.
The two stands are at a slight angle from one another, and that is due to the Dunstable-Luton Busway and Hatters Way (A505) which run lower down next to the stadium.
Getting round to here from the Kenilworth Road End is very difficult, and the shortest route possible is by walking around the southern, eastern and northern sides of the ground.
The Main Stand’s exterior is admittedly not very nice to look it, with just a couple of turnstiles leading into the stand and an entrance into the Eric Morecambe suite. The suite is named after the comedian who was part of the famous double-act Morecambe and Wise, and a well-known fan of Luton Town.
You can only get into the Main Stand seats from here; to access the seats in the David Preece Stand, you will need to use the entrances round by the Kenilworth Road End on the southern side of the stadium.
Make sure you read your ticket thoroughly so you know what stand you are in, as it is a long walk back round if you go to the wrong entrance.
The North Stand, known as the Oak Road End after the street that runs outside it, is infamous amongst away fans for its very unattractive entrances.
A row of houses runs along the back of the stand so you cannot see any of it, and there are two gates leading inside, one for home supporters and one for away supporters. Both of these gates have parts of neighbouring houses stacked on top of them.
It gets even worse unfortunately when you head inside. Not only are the toilets for this stand behind the seating area and underneath where people live, but the staircases leading up to the seating area hang over the back gardens of the houses.
This is a real invasion of privacy for the residents of these houses and it has been that way now for a very long time.
The stadium’s East Stand is made up entirely of executive boxes.
Rows of houses on both Ivy Road and Beech Road are right outside this stand but there is a narrow path that lets you walk right along the outer wall, with doors leading to each executive box spread across it.
This narrow path is a very useful, time-saving feature as fans would otherwise have to walk away from the stadium and along Dunstable Road if they were trying to get from one end of the ground to the other.
Inside the Stadium
The Kenilworth Road End on the south side of the stadium is made up of two-tiers of blue seats, with the lower tier much larger than the one above. The letters LUTON are spelt out in white at the front of this stand.
Your view of the pitch from the blocks at the front is pretty good, but there are pillars that come down regularly in front of the upper tier and these will restrict your view if you are sat behind them.
A windshield in the southeast corner protects the upper tier seats but not all of those in the tier below.
The Main Stand is the largest at Kenilworth Road.
It is made up of two tiers, with the lower paddock area significantly smaller than the tier above it. Unlike the rest of the stadium, this paddock area has backless benches for fans to sit on, as opposed to the simple, plastic seats that are much more common at football grounds.
The upper tier is made up of a whole mix of colours, with each seating block a different colour than the one next to it.
Large pillars come down at the very front of the Main Stand and will restrict your view if you are in any of the upper tier seats. Smaller pillars are also in place at the front of the upper tier which further limit the amount of the pitch that you can see on a matchday.
Luton Town’s changing rooms and tunnel are in this stand, and given that the dugouts are in front of the East Stand opposite, substitutes and staff have to walk across the pitch at the beginning and end of each half.
The David Preece Stand next door provides a better view of the action.
It once again is divided into two levels with backless benches in the bottom tier and the same blue seating in the upper tier that you can find in the Kenilworth Road End. Only a small part of the bottom tier is available for fans though as a large blue fence takes up a lot of the space down here. Some of the benches are also unfortunately placed behind one of the Kenilworth Road’s lighting rigs and this will definitely restrict your view if you are sat behind it.
The upper tier does have a couple of pillars but these are well spaced out and so the view from here is one of the best you can get in the whole stadium.
There is a staircase leading down from the upper tier to the lower level and the pillars that hold this up do block the view of a handful of seats in the Kenilworth Road End, so this is certainly worth taking note of.
In addition to all this, because the David Preece Stand and the Main Stand are at a slight angle from one another, there is a section of benches in the lower tier paddock that are not covered at all by the roof.
Whilst the view of the pitch from here is perfectly clear, there is nothing directly over your head that will protect you from the elements. You won't be surprised to hear that these seats tend to be the last ones sold!
The Oak Road End consists of a single tier of blue seating.
Much like the Kenilworth Road End opposite, it has the letters LUTON spelt out in white along the front. What makes this stand different though is the roof, which drops down in sections from one side to the other. The roof over in the northwest corner is higher up as a result than the roof in the northeast corner.
Pillars come down regularly along the front and the middle of this stand so it is highly likely that your view of the action will be restricted somewhat.
The Oak Road End also has a large electronic scoreboard on its roof that can be seen by everyone expect for those in this stand.
As mentioned before, the East Stand is made up entirely of executive boxes.
It is easily the smallest part of Kenilworth Road but does have the clearest and best view of anywhere in the stadium. Each box has two rows of seating in front of it, right up by the side of the pitch.
There is a large net above the roof of this stand that is supposed to stop balls from being kicked over into the neighbouring houses, but this certainly doesn’t always work.
Away fans are housed in the infamous Oak Road End.
Depending on the allocation, they can be given the entire stand, or large sheets and stewards can be used to segregate small away followings into the northeast corner, allowing home fans to take up the rest of the available seats.
I’ve already mentioned how grim the walk from the outside turnstiles into the Oak Road End itself is, and I’m sure if you ask any away fan who has come to Kenilworth Road about it, they will say the same thing.
It's unlikely that this stadium will provide one of our favourite away day experiences, with the views from inside the Oak Road End itself very poor.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Beech Hill Conservative Club (18 Leagrave Road, LU4 8HZ) (Home and Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Bobbers Supporters Club (101 Oak Road, LU4 8AA) (Home Supporters Only)
-The Bricklayers Arms (16-18 High Town Road, LU2 0DD) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The White House (1 Bridge Street, LU1 1SA) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters)
Truthfully, Kenilworth Road is not a nice football ground. The exterior is unappealing, and the interior is not practical, with the majority of seats likely to give you some form of restricted view.
Luton Town have announced plans to leave Kenilworth Road in the coming years and move into a new home, and it makes sense for the club to move on to a stadium that’s more suited to the demands of modern football.
Until that move comes though, this ground is the home of The Hatters, and one of the most unique stadiums in league football, though not necessarily for the right reasons.