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Luton – The Legends Series – Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu

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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 and Chris Nicholl

In the latest of our ongoing legends series, we’re taking a look at the career of Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, as suggested by Mad Hatter.

Now, to be brutally honest, it’s fair to say that Pelly, when it comes to comments left on Vital Luton Town, isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, having his fair share of critics.

But how can he not qualify for legend status when you consider what he has achieved since joining the Hatters from West Ham United back in 2014.

Pelly is in the record books as the first ever player to rise from non-league football to the Premier League with the same club, a record that, in my opinion, may never be broken.

Since joining Luton Town, Pelly has made 322 league appearances scoring 23 goals, but overall, his appearance figures have shot past the 360 mark, in all competitions.

So let us take a look at his Luton Town career.

Pelly arrived at Kenilworth Road on a loan deal on 28-November-2013, signing for a Luton side that had plunged out of the Football League into the Conference. His first game, for Luton, saw him play as a centre back as Luton drew with Staines Town in an FA Trophy tie. He reverted to his more natural midfield position in the replay and was awarded the player of the match accolade.

Despite a bright start to his loan spell, Pelly was recalled by West Ham at the end of December with the Hammers suffering from an injury crisis.

But his displays during those seven games in his loan spell had the gaffer, at the time, John Still, had seen enough and pursued West Ham with a view to getting a permanent deal done and on 28-January 2014, Pelly signed for Luton for an undisclosed fee.

Pelly notched his first goal for the Hatters in a 7-0 win, against Hereford United and went on to make 24 appearances, scoring 2 goals, as Luton clinched the Conference League title and climbed back into the Football League.

Sadly, Pelly’s Luton career has not always been plain sailing, in 2014/2015 he was limited to just 18 appearances, with only 10 being starts, as he struggled to shake off a hamstring muscle problem.

The 2016/2017 season was a far better one with Pelly going on to make 52 appearances, in all competitions, but the finale to the season was to see the Hatters lose a two-legged play-off semi-final, to Blackpool.

But that bitter disappointment was shaken off with Luton Town going on to gain promotion in two consecutive seasons with the Hatters reaching the Championship, a remarkable achievement for both the club and player.

His long service for the club was realised when he made his 350th appearance against Grimsby Town, in the FA Cup this year, before the culmination of a wonderful campaign saw Luton gain promotion to the Premier League, completing the remarkable record mentioned earlier in this article.

Talking to Sky Sports and as reported by the BBC, Pelly remarked, after the EFL Championship Play-Off Final, against Coventry City:

“I feel like I’ve completed football, I can retire.

“I’ve been through highs and lows, but you’ve got to believe in yourself and here I am.”

We’re not sure how the record will be celebrated / recognised by the clubs’ hierarchy, but, surely, something must be done when it comes to the Power Court development, a stand named after him, a statue or something in a similar vein.

Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu – Mini Fact File

Name – Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu

Date of Birth – 22-March-1994

Place of Birth – Hendon, England

Height – 5 Feet 9 Inches

Position – Midfielder

Youth Career – Boreham Wood

Playing Career – Boreham Wood, West Ham United, Luton Town (loan), Luton Town

International Career – DR Congo

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, 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 – Don Givens as suggested by Ant Gallow


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Luton – The Legends Series – Chris Nicholl

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  • Peter Scott says:

    I dont think that Pelly is a legend – a loyal player but legend no – the sports daily defines the term legend in much different terms that is – https://thesportsdaily.com/news/what-makes-a-football-legend/ I never got the thrill of seeing Pelly play and thinking where will he bend the ball to, where will he hit the perfect pass to but rather, dont give it away again man, dont play it back again, play it forward. The thrill I got watching Brian Stein, Ricky Hill, Danny Hilton, Malcolm MacDonald, Andre Gray, Paul Benson, and I have never felt that with Pelly but he is like marmite, you either like him or you dont! statue, no that belongs only to Big Mick or the title the Mick Harford Stand.

    • Mad Hatter says:

      As the article says, he does divide opinion but what a marvellous achievement he has with his name in the record books. Good point about Big Mick though. And I have to agree the term ‘legend’ does tend to get used too easily in our beloved sport.

      • Alan says:

        It’s exactly that love him or hate him. Found it a bit strange that pelly has been lambasted on here for stray passes & losing possession, but if you watched the two semi’s & final marvellous was just as quilty, but not a word. 1st bad result next season & we know what’s coming….anyway hey ho…..farewell to Sonny,Harry & Henri…..

  • jimbo says:

    i am not a ruddock fan. doubt this record will be broken. he stated that he would retire, heres hoping. the only thing saving ruddock was nakamba sorting his mess out.COYH..

  • Alan says:

    What mess????? Doesn’t take long for the moaners to put a dampener on the best time in our clubs history. Sorry but Marv was poor, by his own standards, in the last free games. Jimbo watch them back and Do one of your pelly style expertise and count his bad passes and how many times he loses possession. As I’ve said a million times all players lose the ball and make stray passes. If they didn’t it would be bloody weird game. Don’t know about pelly retiring but I wish some would retire from slagging OUR PREMIER LEAGUE hero’s off. God help us next year with the criticism that’s gonna come….

  • Steve Bahrain says:

    Pelly, since his contract delay at start of season the other year up until before his latest injury, he was about 10% great, 50% okay and 40% sloppy mess on the ball. Wasn’t really a huge fan but he always put in the yards and kept the changing room and culture slick and a well oiled machine so never really hated him, just didn’t rate him, but still wanted him to be a part of the national League to EPL fairytale at heart.
    Since coming back from injury under RE? He has been a machine, week in and week out… Completely undroppable and has truly won me over. Looking forward to him bagging in the EPL next season to have scored at every level with the club and hoping he can keep up his good performances, we will need them.
    Glad to be proved wrong once more, but save the statue for Big Mick!

    • Mad Hatter says:

      great post Steve, Pelly has been transformed under Rob, be interesting to see if he can upgrade his game even more in the Premier League!

  • jimbo says:

    wise words steve. your ratings were quite generous. he will need some upgrade MH. fairytales don’t win games.i have no problem with some people on here looking through rose coloured glasses.you don’t need to convince me, convince yourself. just enjoy the fairytale.COYH.

  • Alan says:

    It’s not looking through Rose coloured glasses, it’s supporting luton town players. Fairytale don’t win matches but effort can. Try putting some effort into backing players….

  • Tony Byfield says:

    Pelly is a great story. I have only seen him play occasionally, but he always seems to give 100%.

    The club record appearances is held by Bob Morton who was good enough for England but never selected. He has almost 500 appearances.

    How about adding him to your list MH ?

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