Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Jesse Pye

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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 Luton figure 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, Steve Foster, Mike Keen, Ian Buxton, Lars Elstrup, Peter Anderson, Graham French, Alan West, David Moss, Terry Branston, John Aston, Paul Futcher, John Ryan, Syd Owen, Marvin Johnson, Malcolm MacDonald, Bob Hatton, Steve Buckley,Chris Coyne, Ron Baynham, John Still, Jack Bannister, Ricky Hill, Chris Nicholl, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Don Givens, Gordon Turner and Brian Stein

In the latest of our ongoing legends series, we’re taking a look at the career of Jesse Pye, as suggested by Alan Seymour.

Once again I’m delving into the unknown as our latest offering played in an era before I was born, but, hopefully, I’ll do Jesse justice courtesy of the information available from several sources.

Venturing into the world of professional football, Pye started hs career with Sheffield United, unfortunately his career was put on hold due to the outbreak of World War 2.

Once the war had ended, Pye turned out for Notts County in what was deemed to be a transistional season, as the country tried to revert to a degree of normality after the suffering and hardship induced by the conflict.

With the Football League back in operation, Pye signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers, for a fee of £10,000.

While with Wolves, Pye built a reputation as an emerging forward, scoring a hat-trick on his debut as a rampant Wolves side demolished Arsenal 6-1.

In his first season at Moulineux, Pye netted a creditable 21 goals. The scoring continued at quite a pace with Pye being joint top scorer, at the club, the following season.

His reputation was further enhanced when, in the 1949 FA Cup Final, he scored a brace as Wolves beat Leicester City 3-1, at Wembley.

Pye gained his only England cap, in Spetember 1949, but was part of an England side beaten, 2-0, by Ireland.

After making 209 appearances for Wolves, scoring 95 goals, almost a goal in every two games, Pye was allowed to join Luton Town ahead of the 1952/1953 season.

The fee was £5000, half the fee Wolves had previously paid for the forward but probably reflective on the fact he’d had an injury hit season before joining the Hatters.

At Kenilworth Road, Pye’s scoring prowess continued with 23 goals in his first season, seeing Luton finish third, just failing to get promoted to the top flight of English football.

Firmly established as a regular starter, Pye went on to score another 37 goals for Luton Town before, surprisingly, leaving to join Derby County.

Pye’s professional career came to an end in 1957 with the player opting to become a pub landlord. He also acquired a string of sweet shops before selling them to move to Blackpool to run a hotel.

Blackpool was to become his final resting place when, sadly, he passed away on 19-February-1984 aged just 64.

In total he made 61 league appearances for the Hatters scoring on 32 occassions, a record of more than a goal every two games, a remarkable achievement.

Jesse Pye – Mini Fact File

Name – Jesse Pye

Date of Birth – 22 December 1919

Place of Birth – Treeton, England

Position – Forward

Youth Career – Catcliffe, Treeton

Playing Career – Sheffield United, Notts County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Luton Town, Derby County, Wisbech Town

International Career – England (1 cap)

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Jesse Pye, 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 – Raddy Antic as suggested by Steven Herman


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  • Mike Smith says:

    My father in law who is 97 and still phones me the day after every game mentioned to me a month ago that Jesse Pyle was the best player he ever saw in a Luton shirt. Needless to say he saw quite a few. He also saw Joe Payne play but not in that game!!!!!

  • Tony Byfield says:

    He was just before my time, but my late father in law remembered him because he helped Gordon Turner develop in the old second division, where they were both prolific scorers.

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