Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – John O’Rourke

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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, Brian Stein, Jesse Pye, Raddy Antic, Joe Payne, Max Dougan, Alan Slough, Ray Whittaker, Dave Pacey, Milija Aleksic, Ron Davies and Sandy Davie

In the latest in our ongoing series, the focus on one of our former players falls on John O’Rourke, as suggested by Chris Winter.

Sometimes a change of club is just what a player needs, new surroundings, a new challenge and a new belief can transform a career.

That could be said about the career of John O’Rourke.

Before joining the Hatters, back in December 1963, John had been on the books of both Arsenal and Chelsea but had failed to make the first team.

Still in his teenage years when he moved to Kenilworth Road, John was to prove to be an instant hit, in his first season with Luton Town, 1963/1964, the young striker scored 22 goals in just 23 league appearances, his goals were enough for the Hatters to stave off relegation.

The following season, 1964/1965, saw luck dessert John with the young forward picking up an injury that was to blight his progress.

However, the following season, 1965/1966, John was back to his goalscoring best scoring 32 times before the inevitable happened, a transfer.

John left Kenilworth Road to join Middlesbrough, where his goals saw his club gain promotion.

While with Luton Town, John scored 64 goals in 84 league appearances, a phenomenal record.

Further moves saw him play for, among others, Ipswich Town and Coventry City, where the support got to appreciate his scoring prowess.

As a youngster, I can recall my late father talking about John and how his goalscoring ability, especially with his head, identified him as a star of the Luton Town side, unfortunately, John left Kenilworth Road before my father deemed it appropriate for me to accompany him to games.

Sadly, John passed away on 07-July-2016, in Dorset where he settled after retirement, having suffered from cancer.

John O’Rourke – Mini Fact File

Name – John O’Rourke

Date of Birth – 11-February-1945

Place of Birth – Northampton, England

Position – Forward

Youth Career – Arsenal

Playing Career – Chelsea, Luton Town, Middlesbrough, Ipswich Town, Coventry City, Queens Park Rangers, AFC Bournemouth, Poole Town (loan), Rangers Johannesburg, Weymouth, Poole Town, Dorchester Town, Poole Town

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of John O’Rourke, 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 – Les Sealey as suggested by Mad Hatter.


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Luton Town – Maybe There’ll Be A Surprise Departure Before The Transfer Window Slams Shut

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  • Philip Carter says:

    As I recall he went to Middlesborough for £18000 and pleaded with them to buy Ray Whitaker as a lot of his goals came from Ray ‘s crosses.A great goal scorer for us who we tried to replace with a player called Gerry King who could never live up to O’ROurke

  • Billy says:

    Great memory Philip, Gerry was the brother of Scruff King who managed and coached many teams in the Luton and Dunstable area including working with Brian Smith who managed the county side.

  • Alan Seymour says:

    Perhaps you could at sometime feature Bob Morton surely the best wing half not to have played for England.A great servant for Luton who might have ruined his chances by playing up front for Town in times of need.Of course England teams picked by panel ( old farts) in those days and Town not a glamour club.

    • Mad Hatter says:

      the world works in strange ways lol, Les Sealey is ready to be published tomorrow and the footnote, relating to who s to follow is one Bob Morton 🙂

  • Graham Brazier says:

    My second hero after Ron Davies. He was a great goalscorer. I was really annoyed when he left as was too young to understand football finances back then. He was good at Boro and Ipswich. Didn’t know he went to Cov.

  • Jimmy cummings says:

    Max Dougan right full back very steady guy. Fourth division promotion team.

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