Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Ricky Hill

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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 and John Ryan, Syd Owen, Marvin Johnson, Malcolm MacDonald, Bob Hatton, Steve Buckley,Chris Coyne, Ron Baynham, John Still and Jack Bannister.

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

When it comes to legendary status, there are many who would be prepared to argue that Ricky Hill is well-qualified to be named the greatest Luton player of all time.

Ricky had everything, pace, power, poise, and enough ability change the course of a match with a sublime pass or finish.

The midfielder joined the Hatters in 1975 and was to remain part of the Kenilworth furniture until 1989, making 506 league appearances and scoring league goals.

The indication that Luton had a huge talent at their disposal cam when, aged just 17, Ricky made his debut in a Division 2 game against Bristol City. In a 22-minute cameo, Hill scored and also notched his first assist in a 3-1 win.

During his very influential 14-years as a Luton Town player, Hill played a major part in Luton’s success as they were promoted to the top-flight of English football in 1981/1982 as Division 2 champions, such was his influence he was the recipient of back-to-back Player of the Year awards.

In cup competitions, Ricky was a part of the side that beat Arsenal in at never to be forgotten League Cup Final and also returned to Wembley, with Luton, the following season but only to attain a runners-up medal as they were beaten by Nottingham Forest.

Such were his abilities, Ricky was to grace the international scene, playing for England at U18, U21 and senior levels, making his debut, as a substitute, in a 2-2 draw against Denmark. His first start for the national team came in a 2-1 defeat against Germany.

Sadly, any hopes of seeing Ricky grace a World Cup tournament didn’t materialise as, in 1986, he wasn’t selected in the 22-man squad that travelled to Mexico but was only named as a standby in case any of those selected were injured in the build-up.

The last of Ricky’s 3 caps, he surely should have had more, came against Egypt in 1986.

His Luton career came to an end when, in 1989, he joined the French side, Le Havre, on a free transfer, the move marked the end of a Luton career that had earned him legendary status with the support.

Perhaps one of my finest memories of Ricky came in the FA Cup semi-final, against Everton, at Villa Park in April 1985, when a strike from the edge of the area sent half of the Holte End delirious with delight believing our second ever FA Cup Final appearance was on the cards, sadly Everton had other ideas. But seeing the Luton support celebrate as they did, still stand the hairs up on the back of my neck.

Ricky Hill – Mini Fact File

Name – Ricky Anthony Hill

Date of Birth – 5-March-1959

Place of Birth – Hammersmith, London, England

Position – Midfield

Playing Career – Luton Town, Le Havre, Leicester City, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Chertsey Town, Cocoa Expos

Managerial Career – Tampa Bay Rowdies, Cocoa Expos, Sheffield Wednesday U16-U19, Tottenham Hotspur U16-U17, Luton Town, San Juan Jabloteh, Tampa Bay Rowdies

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts or memories on the Hatters career of Ricky Hill, 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 – Chris Nicholl suggested by Mike Osborne


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Luton – Another Hatter Set To Shine At Wembley

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  • Ant Gallow says:

    Don Givens, should be on tthat list ,one of the greats for the Town

  • Billy says:

    Back in the day one of the best there was. Great to watch, great skill, great awareness. What would he be worth today.

  • Tony Byfield says:

    A very skillful player and arguably the most talented midfielder we ever had. A real linchpin of that wonderful 80s team.
    I read his autobiography ” Love of the Game”. As Luton was a selling club he wonders why he was never the subject of an offer, but thinks the management rebuffed all offers as they wanted to keep him.
    Also he thinks that the was denied several coaching jobs because of descrimination.

  • Peter Scott says:

    Ricky Hill is the greatest Luton player of all times without doubt – with Mick Harford a close second – not seen any other players that run them even close – RH had a superb footballing brain and was also a gentleman on the field – his scoring ability was great as well – when he got the ball in front of goal I always thought he was going to score – a great great player and person too.

  • Andrew says:

    Hi all Ricky Hill was such a fantastic player he was the heart beat of the team it all went through him , if he had played for a fashionable team ie Liverpool or arsenal he would have got many more caps for England. If he was playing now ithink he would be in the man City team he was that type of player. A true legend. Coyh

  • Nick says:

    Ricky Hill was a joy to watch. Probably the best midfielder I have seen playing for Luton although Bruce Rioch is very close.
    He was also a gentleman. He came to my nightclub a few times and was always modest and discrete unlike some of the other players who could behave ostentatiously.

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