Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Graham French

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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 who became a fans favourite.

Following on from those already covered – John Moore, David Preece, Mal Donaghy, Brian Lewis, Bruce Rioch, Fred Jardine, Brian Horton, Kevin Nicholls, Tony Read and Steve Foster, Mike Keen, Ian Buxton and Lars Elstrup and Peter Anderson

The latest Hatter to be featured is Graham French, as suggested by David Gadsden.

For this article, I’ve opted to use a slightly different style, a more personalized style to bring to life just what Graham French meant to someone close to me, my late dad, I hope it meets with your approval.

As a youngster my dad, before he first took me to Kenilworth Road, for that first game against Ware in the FA Cup, often spoke about the maverick that was Graham French.

He used to tell me tales of how, on the way home from work he`d pop into a pub for a pint and see Graham French sitting there.

Stories doing the rounds often used to suggest that French, more than often, turned up for games a little worse for wear.

But he was different to the others; any hangover was, so my dad told me, run off within minutes of the kick-off once he`d been given the ball.

One day when dad ventured to the game alone whilst I shook off a bout of chicken-pox, I heard my dad come in the back-door and start to come upstairs.

The bedroom door was pushed open and he proceeded to tell me about this wonderful goal French had scored.

That day we were playing Mansfield and French had collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, bamboozled several of the Mansfield team with his dribbling skills and then coolly rounded the keeper before slotting home.

In latter years he`d often rib me that he`d seen the greatest goal scored by a Hatter whilst I`d been ill in bed with chicken-pox.

Dad seemed to have this association with French, quite why I`m not sure, perhaps it was because they both trod just about on the right side of the law.

But French, who had the world at his feet, as my dad used to say, fell from grace.

An incident in a pub saw a shot fired and French was sentenced to three years in prison. After coming out of prison he was taken on again by Luton but that edge had gone, the maverick was no more and soon, after close to two hundred games for Luton, he was moved on.

Before my dad passed away, he`d often say that Graham French was one of the best entertainers he`d seen play for Luton, but in the end his lifestyle had caught up with him.

Highlights of his playing career are hard to find, but I did find the following, showing a sublime finish from the man himself, on the public domain that is YouTube:

Graham French – Mini Fact File

Name – Graham Edward French

Date of Birth – 06-April-1945

Place of Birth – Shrewsbury, England

Position – Winger

Youth Career – Shrewsbury Town

Career – Shrewsbury Town, Swindon Town, Watford, Wellington Town, Luton Town, Reading (loan), Boston Minutemen, Southport

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Graham French, 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 – Alan West suggested by Alan R


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  • Chris winter says:

    Morning mh, are congratulations in order at being a new grandad yet? On to Graham now now as a youngster at Chelsea Tommy docherty said he was the greatest thing he’s ever seen on a par with George best.now that man knows a good player !!! But had to let him go as he was so indisciplined he was unmanageable. His fondness of women an drink legendary. I’ve told the train trip an skip story before. Also whilst he was on his downward spiral.he signed for a couple of clubs under an assumed name.there is no doubt that he was best player ever to pull on a Luton shirt skill wise.but sadly like George a wasted talent.

  • John fettes says:

    I was there that night only a youngster frozen to the bone if I remember correctly rioch was sent off and when thier free kick came to french who dribbled past at least ten of their players and scored he then went and jumped into the bobbers stand it was one of the greatest goals I ever saw great player

  • Les Jennings says:

    Les Jennings. Morning MH your dad was spot on the best player ever to play for us but Chris is right he was a law un to himself he could have played for England and had loads of caps . Not only did he like a drink he would bet on anything allways up skin pot dog track. Don’t think I will ever see a better player

    • Chris winter says:

      Hi les, yes he did like skimpot dogs . I remember seeing him lose a packet on the greyhound derby winner that was stolen an placed as a ringer there getting beat lol.

  • Tony Byfield says:

    Can I nominate David Moss, my father in law’s favourite during his time with us, plus a real crowd favourite Marvellous Marvin Johnson, who can forget the chant of “Marvin for England”.

  • Ken McAleer says:

    He was without doubt the best player to pull on a Luton shirt. I was at the Ware game in the cup and so were 8,000 supporters if I remember!
    My brother and I were at the Mansfield game and saw that goal! What was so enthralling was that Bruce Rioch was sent off after 6 minutes and we beat them hands down with ten men. 4-2 I think?
    My brother met Bruce Rioch years later and he told him he missed the goal but heard it on local radio whilst going home on the bus! How times have changed and what a maverick Graham French was! Such a legend.

  • Geoff Wilson says:

    Syd Owen deserves to be included in any article on great town players. Also Bob Moreton and Gordon Turner

  • Trevor Bradley says:

    Two players i would class as legends are, John Ryan and Jack Bannister. The latter going on to play local Sunday football in the North Home Counties for i believe Tavaners FC along with Peter Denton.

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