Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Bruce Rioch

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For the latest in our ongoing series covering those who have achieved legendary status among the support, we feature another former player nominated by Chris Winter.

Following on from those already covered – John Moore, David Preece, Mal Donaghy and Brian Lewis

I’ve chosen to cover the Luton Town career of Bruce Rioch.

Although Bruce spent some of his school days in Luton, he never actually became a resident of the town until he was fourteen year of age.

Born in Aldershot, courtesy of his father being in the army, Bruce signed for the Hatters when he was just 14-years-of-age , turning professional and making his Hatters debut in 1964.

It wasn’t until the 1967/1968 that I, personally, became aware of Bruce Rioch. It was my first season supporting Luton, I was a mere 6-years-of-age and a regular, along with my dad, in the Bobbers Stand.

1967/1968 was, for me, the perfect introduction to the Hatters as, under Allan Brown, they marched to the Division 4 title and how could someone so young not be impressed by a midfielder that had everything.

Bruce was the dominant force in the Luton midfield, someone who could win the ball, distribute it or run forcibly with it. Furthermore, he knew exactly where the goal was and in that title winning season scored a very impressive 24 goals.

I can remember, during his time with Luton, being distraught when I attended a game and he wasn’t, for one reason or another, in the starting XI.

Rioch was to remain with the Hatters until July 1969 when Luton were unable to resist an offer from Aston Villa for his services. A record fee, paid by a Division Two side, saw Luton receive £100,000 for a player I idolised.

I was on a family holiday when my dad told me the news, it is fair to say that the news ruined my holiday that year.

After leaving Kenilworth Road, Bruce went from strength to strength playing for, among others, Villa, Everton and Derby.

Naturally his skills saw him capped at international level with Scotland, Bruce qualifying due to both his parents being born north of the border.

One claim to fame that can never be beaten, relating to Bruce, is that he became the first person born in England to captain Scotland.

During his playing career, the record books show he made 149 league appearances for Luton scoring 47 goals and during his career he made 550 league appearances.

Once he’d hung up his boots, Bruce went on to manage several clubs, as can be seen in his mini fact file below, including a successful period in charge of Arsenal when he built the back-four that was to serve a future incumbent of the Highbury hot-seat, George Graham, very well.

Bruce Rioch – Mini Fact File

Name – Bruce David Rioch

Date of Birth – 06-September-1947

Place of Birth – Aldershot, England

Height – 5 feet 11 inches

Position – Midfield

Career – Luton Town, Aston Villa, Derby County, Everton, Derby County, Birmingham City (loan), Sheffield United (loan), Seattle Sounders, Torquay

International Career – Scotland

Managerial Career – Torquay United, Seattle Sounders, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal, QPR (assistant), Norwich City, Wigan Athletic

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts on the Hatters career of Bruce, please feel free to do so in the comment facility beneath this article.

If you can think of anyone who deserves nominating for coverage in this ongoing series, please drop their name into the comment facility beneath this article.

My thanks go to those who have already nominated faces from the past, they will all be covered, in time.

Next up in the series will be – Fred Jardine suggested by wiklam


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Our Demographic Is – Live Outside Luton, Born In Luton, 51 And Over

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  • jimbo says:

    rioch was lutons version of bobby charlton. good ball distribution ,and a thunderous shot. i seem to remember he had a brother, think his name was neil. not sure if he played for luton. COYH.

    • Mad Hatter says:

      Was on the books of Luton but never made a League appearance, moved to Aston Villa, with his brother, and made 11 league appearances. Was called Neil but was actually christened Daniel Gordon Rioch!

  • Chris winter says:

    My abiding memory of Bruce was the power of his kick.i remember consecutive home games in which he broke the fingers of the keeper on the opposition side.both being replaced by an outfielder an winning us both games wish I could remember the teams.

  • Roby says:

    Bruce & Macdonald are my favourite EVER players for Luton . both WORLD CLASS INTERNATIONALSB!!

    They were HUMONGEOUS for us .

    Promotion to the third then second division was down to their MAGNIFICENT goals.

    HAPPY DAYS ! Sadly he was very strict as a manager which cost him his job at the Gunners, but he brought in SUPER players to Arsenal who were their BACKBONE for many years. especially BERGKAMP .

  • GEOFF says:

    Bruce had the fiercest shot that I have ever seen!

  • Dave says:

    Still use Rioch 1967 as my Password !! Such was his lasting legacy on me !!

  • Tony Rioch says:

    Played with left and right foot and his brother Neil played too

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