Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Ray Whittaker

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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 and Alan Slough

In the latest of our ongoing legends series, we’re taking a look at the career of Ray Whittaker, as suggested by Philip Carter.

Ray Whittaker, for me, remains one of the unsung heroes of the Division 4 title winning side, an era where my love, for the club, was first cemented courtesy of my late father.

As a winger, he was one of the first players I really got a close-up view of, with my chin resting on the metal railings on top of the wall at the foot of the Bobbers Stand, I couldn’t believe how someone so small in stature could have such a dynamic outcome on a game.

Whittaker joined Luton Town, from Arsenal, in 1963. The Gunners had great expectations for Ray, after all he had been part of the England side that had won the Little World Cup of 1963. But, for both parties, the move didn’t work out as anticipated and in March 1964 he moved to Kenilworth Road.

During his time with Luton Town, Ray made 188 appearances scoring on 45 occasions, a decent record for somebody who was not an out and out striker.

His silky skills kept the Kenilworth Road faithful entertained and in his role for the club he provided an abundance of assists for the likes of Bruce Rioch, Ian Buxton and Keith Allen.

But it should never be ignored that Ray had a wonderful eye for a goal and was joint top scorer, with Bruce Rioch, in the 1966/1967 season, with 11 apiece.

Perhaps my fondest memory of Ray will always be the 1967/1968 season when he more than played his part in the aforementioned Division 4 title winning season.

But, as we all know, success brings change and despite his influential input, Ray lost his place in the starting XI, to Mike Harrison.

A move to Colchester United beckoned, with Ray joining the Essex club in 1969, remaining at Layer Road until 1971 before continuing his footballing career in non-league football.

Ray Whittaker – Mini Fact File

Name – Ray Whittaker

Date of Birth – 15-January-1945

Place of Birth – Bow, London, England

Position – Winger

Youth Career – Arsenal

Playing Career – Arsenal, Luton Town, Colchester United

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Ray Whittaker, 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 – Dave Pacey as suggested by Tony Byfield.


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Luton Town Linked With Manchester United Midfielder

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  • jimbo says:

    mike harrison was one of my favourites. no denying whittakers record was good, but not my cup of tea. if only harrisons massive leg muscles were’nt so susceptible to injury.happy days.COYH.

  • Mick says:

    Well he was my cup of tea, tricky fast little winger who both scored and set up a conveyor belt of goals despite playing in an era when the smaller you were the higher defenders kicked you up in the air. A bit disrespectful Jimbo I just hope Ray knows he was appreciated after almost 200 appearances.

  • Mike Smith says:

    Great memories of Ray. An underestimated Luton hero.

  • Chris winter says:

    My abiding memory of ray will always be of a horrid winter afternoon freezing cold on the Kenny watching a horrible 0-0game against some now non league team like Hartlepool or Bradford an with 15 minutes to go ray came on an by full time we had won 4-0 . Such was his impact he could change a game he was that good. But mh I will challenge you on his being replaced by Mike Harrison my memory is Harrison rarely played as he had thighs like tree trunks and continually ruptured muscles in them. And never managed 2 games on the trot. And it was better players brought in.

    • Mad Hatter says:

      good point Chris, perhaps Harrison was seen as his replacement and Ray opted to leave before those muscle problems came to the forefront!

      • Chris winter says:

        From memory mh Harrison was on the right wing with Whittaker on the left wing and I seem to remember them both playing at the same time in games when Harrison was fit.while you were in the bobbers i was under the skefkco clock in the Kenny so Whittaker on the left wing deffo

        • Mad Hatter says:

          loved the early Kenny, night games especially, the smell of the deep heat rubbed on their bodies wafting through the air, seeing steam rise from their bodies, wonderful memories…………

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