Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Kevin Nicholls

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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 known to you all.

Following on from those already covered – Following on from those already covered – John Moore, David Preece, Mal Donaghy, Brian Lewis, Bruce Rioch, Fred Jardine and Brian Horton

the latest to be selected in what is fast becoming a Hall of Fame comprised of Luton legends, is none other than Kevin Nicholls.

Nicholls belongs to a rare breed of player who spent two spells at Kenilworth Road, his first spell came in 2001 lasting until 2006 with the midfielder making 175 league appearances and scoring 30 goals, whereas his second spell covered 2008 to 2010 with Kevin making 42 league appearances but failing to hit the net and being blighted by injury problems.

Looking at his first spell, at Kenilworth Road, the Hatters secured the services of Nicholls, from Wigan Athletic, for a fee of just £25,000 that could rise to £150,000 dependent on the number of appearances he made for the club.

That first season with Luton saw Kevin make 42 appearances as the club secured promotion to Division 2, with his all-action style and leadership abilities making him the perfect candidate to be the club captain.

Before joining the Hatters, Nicholls had been plagued with injuries, hence the low fee and appearance clause in the deal, but under the stewardship of the Luton medical team, the midfielder steered clear of injury until the 2003/2004 season where he was unfortunate enough to pick up an injury that side lined him for 5 months.

The 2004/2005 season saw another milestone achieved, by the fans favourite, as Luton won the League One title with the midfielder being voted Player of the Year by the support. That season was also the most prolific in his career, when it came to goals, with Kevin scoring 14 goals, although most of them were, admittedly, from penalties Luton were awarded but it still takes a certain kind of skill to succeed from twelve yards out.

Playing in the Championship, Nicholls continued to impress and it came as no surprise when the popular midfielder was on the move with Leeds United paying £700,000 for his services, quite a profit for Luton Town considering the fee they’d paid for him back in 2001.

But Nicholls wasn’t finished with Luton, a club who he was later to describe as the club he will always love and support. In August 2008, Nicholls put pen-to-paper on a 3-year deal with Luton, joining from Preston North End, to begin a second spell with the club.

Resuming his role as club captain, Nicholls injury woes were to return and he missed a large amount of the 2008/2009 season with various injuries.

Fast forwarding to 2009 and the 5th April, Nicholls was to experience Wembley glory, captaining Luton to the Football League Trophy with the Hatters beating Scunthorpe United in a memorable day for Luton fans. Such was his display, Nicholls picked up the man-of-the-match award for his industrious display in the heart of the Luton midfield, driving Luton on.

But, as we all know, fate and fortune were not on our side that season as Luton tumbled out of the Football League and into the Conference.

Injuries were still to trouble Kevin and although he made 23 appearances in the league, he often played through the pain barrier to help the club he loved. Eventually he was forced to undergo surgery and was to miss eight months of football.

Sadly, Kevin was never the same after the operation and on 27-August-2010 he called time on his Luton career, with his contract being terminated by mutual consent, with the club at heart he had decided he didn’t want to be a financial drain on limited financial resources if he could give nothing in return, an admirable attitude.

To me that decision showed just how much he loved Luton, Kevin was a player that always gave everything and never flinched from a challenge, something that made him a fans favourite and someone who, quite rightly, deserves the legend status awarded to him.

He may not have been the most skilful player but sometimes attitude is a trait that rubs off on your fellow professionals and is something that is, in Kevin’s case, to be admired.

Please feel free to watch the clip below of the fans paying homage to Kevin:

Kevin Nicholls – Mini Fact File

Name – Kevin John Richard Nicholls

Date of Birth – 2nd January 1979

Place of Birth – Upton Park, England

Height – 6 Feet 0 Inches

Position – Midfielder

Youth Career – Charlton Athletic

Career – Charlton Athletic, Brighton and Hove Albion (loan), Wigan Athletic, Luton Town, Leeds United, Preston North End, Luton Town (again),

International Career – England U18, England U20

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts on the Hatters career of Kevin Nicholls, 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 – Tony Read suggested by Chris Winter


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Midfielders Continued Absence Puzzles Luton Town Support

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1 comment

  • Chris winter says:

    Kev was the epitome of the old style footballer like hunter Giles styles ferocious. Gave to much for team often hurting himself in the process.he loved the supporters so much that when injured at away games he would join us before the games we had his number an would ring him an he would join us often bringing other players along not always Luton players an come on the away terrace with us.And still chats an meets occasionally with the boys .my absolute Luton hero an would be in any best team ever.

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