In a series originally published in our matchday programme, Mark Mitchener takes a historical look at Bournemouth’s previous visits to particular away venues. Have they been happy hunting grounds – or fortresses the Cherries have failed to conquer?
CHERRIES RECORD AT KENILWORTH ROAD (all competitions) – Played 31, Won 6, Drawn 9, Lost 16, Goals for 32, Goals against 50.
Founded in 1885, Luton Town played at grounds at Dallow Lane and Dunstable Road before moving to their current Kenilworth Road home in 1905. After joining the Football League for a second time in 1920, they became regular opponents for Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic in the new Third Division (South) between the Cherries’ election in 1923, and Luton’s promotion to the Second Division in 1937.
Bournemouth’s step up from Southern League level (where they had faced Luton’s reserves) to the Football League was thrown into sharp focus when they visited Kenilworth Road for the first time as a League club on 1 December 1923 – and were hammered 6-2, the first time they had conceded half-a-dozen goals in the same game.
The arrival of Ronnie Eyre the following season (see below) brought a 2-0 win, but the mid-to-late 1920s set something of a trend for high-scoring games between the Hatters and Cherries, as Luton racked up 4-1 and 4-0 wins before a 3-3 draw in 1928.
However, successive Cherries sides only collected three wins from their first 14 visits before Luton’s 1937 promotion, and Luton did not drop back into the third tier until 1963.
Bournemouth picked up a win and two draws from four league visits in the 1960s, but were then knocked out of the 1969-70 FA Cup in a replay at Kenilworth Road – and the two clubs headed in opposite directions at the end of that season, with the Hatters promoted to the Second Division and the Cherries relegated to the Fourth.
The clubs would not meet for a quarter of a century as Luton enjoyed the best spell of their history, winning the League Cup in 1988 and spending an unbroken decade in the old First Division from 1982 to 1992.
For part of that time Luton switched to an artificial “plastic” pitch, and banned away supporters in response to a rise in hooliganism. However, grass and visiting fans had both returned by the time they dropped out of the top flight, just before the inception of the Premier League.
Bournemouth next visited Luton in 1995 for a League Cup first-round tie, which was drawn 1-1 before the Cherries won the second leg 2-1 at Dean Court, and league meetings in the third tier resumed the following year.
But while Bournemouth won five of their next six home meetings with Luton, away wins were harder to come by, though three points were collected at Kenilworth Road (for the first time since 1965) in 1998 and 2000. And there was a controversial postponement in 2004 when the game was called off at 7.46pm, a minute after the scheduled kick-off time with the teams in the tunnel waiting to run out, as a small section of the pitch had frozen over.
Bournemouth recorded their biggest win at Luton under Kevin Bond’s management in February 2008 – the day after the Cherries went into administration, a situation which already applied to Luton. But Bond’s men made light of their off-field troubles as Sam Vokes, Jo Kuffour (2) and Max Gradel scored in a 4-1 win, though ultimately both clubs were relegated to League Two.
Both clubs began the 2008-09 season with further points deductions applied, but played out a six-goal thriller (see “Classic Match” below) in December 2008.
Luton suffered a third successive relegation that season, but returned to the Football League in 2014, and back-to-back promotions helped them return to the second tier in 2020 – drawing 0-0 with the Cherries at Kenilworth Road last month.
After a number of proposals for new stadiums over the last few decades, in January 2019 the Hatters were granted planning permission for a new ground in the Power Court area of the town.
A VISITING STAT
As Bournemouth’s all-time record goalscorer, it is perhaps not a surprise that Ronnie Eyre is also the Cherries’ top scorer at Kenilworth Road, with four goals. The other Bournemouth players to net more than once there, all scored twice in the same game – Harry Scott, Jo Kuffour and Mark Molesley.
Luton’s colours have varied over the years, more so than most other clubs. After wearing a number of colours for the first 15 years of their existence, they switched to sky blue shirts and white shorts between 1900 and 1920. Upon rejoining the Football League in 1920, the Hatters adopted white shirts and black shorts, which lasted until 1973 when a new colour scheme of orange shirts and navy blue shorts were adopted. But in 1979, Luton reverted to all-white, while retaining orange and navy trim, with navy shorts returning in 1984. As the 20th century became the 21st, black shorts returned – but after relegation to the Conference in 2009, a new direction was sought and the orange shirts made a comeback, with navy and white the secondary colours.
All this has meant that the Cherries have worn many different strips at Kenilworth Road (such as in the “Classic Match” below, pairing their home shirts with alternate red shorts) – and Bournemouth gave a debut to the 2020/21 white third kit there last month.
FIRSTS AND LASTS
Bournemouth’s all-time record goalscorer Ronnie Eyre made his debut at Kenilworth Road on 3 January 1925, while Tommy Duff, Jack Johnson and Bill Moralee all debuted in the same game there in 1928, and it was also the venue for first appearances for Alfie White (1931) and Joe Partington (2008).
A clear-out in the summer of 1934 meant more than half the side had their last Cherries hurrah on the final day of the 1933-34 season at Luton – Joe Coen, Jack Coxford, George Dumbrell, Jack Friar, Jack Proctor and Jack Russell – while Herbert Lawson and Bill Richmond played their final games there during the following season.
Kenilworth Road was also the venue for final Bournemouth appearances for Jimmy Armstrong in 1927 and Carl Fletcher in 2004 – while the latter game also featured possibly the shortest Cherries league career of all time.
With injuries stretching Sean O’Driscoll’s threadbare squad, youth team striker Ryan Moss was handed the vacant number 21 shirt and named on the bench at Luton alongside fellow youngsters James Coutts and James Rowe. With the Cherries trailing 1-0, young Moss was introduced up front in place of Alan Connell in the second minute of stoppage time, but barely had the time to get his boots muddy before the referee blew for full time.
Moss was an unused sub in the next game at Brentford, but never appeared for the first team again, though he joined Dorchester in 2005 and has had a long career in non-League football.
Tuesday 2 December 2008 – League Two
Luton Town 3-3 Bournemouth
Bournemouth and Luton were relegated to League Two in 2008, having been given 10-point deductions for entering administration, but there was worse to come, as neither club was able to make a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors, despite new owners taking over.
In fact, three of the division’s teams would start 2008/09 on minus points because of a lack of a CVA. Bournemouth and Rotherham were both deducted 17 points by the Football League following two previous insolvency events (Bournemouth’s in 1997 and 2008, Rotherham’s in 2006 and 2008) – while Luton, having been in administration three times since 1999, were deducted 20 points.
And the Hatters’ pain did not end there as a month earlier, they had been fined and deducted a further 10 points by the Football Association, who found them guilty of misconduct charges relating to the previous regime’s payments to agents, so they would start on minus 30.
So, Luton and Bournemouth, having been deducted a combined 67 points in the past year, were scheduled to meet at Kenilworth Road on 28 October – but even the weather seemed to be against them as the game was abandoned after only eight minutes because of heavy snow.
The game was rearranged for the beginning of December, with both sides still deep in trouble. Jimmy Quinn had replaced Kevin Bond as Bournemouth boss, but his side went to Bedfordshire after back-to-back goalless home draws, while Luton had lost three on the bounce.
Quinn’s team selection raised eyebrows as ex-England midfielder Darren Anderton, having recently lost the captaincy to Shaun Cooper, was left on the bench, and the home side went behind in the 18th minute when defender Ryan Garry turned Lewis Emanuel’s left-wing cross past his own goalkeeper.
But two minutes later, Mark Molesley, on loan from Grays Athletic, cut in from the right and squeezed home his first Cherries goal at the near post.
After the break, Molesley then put the visitors ahead when he linked up well with Josh McQuoid, and turned inside to leave two Luton defenders and the goalkeeper on their backsides before curling in a left-foot shot.
But the Hatters were level before the hour mark when a free-kick was touched to veteran striker Kevin Gallen to fire in the equaliser.
Molesley was involved yet again as his throw-in was controlled well by Lee Bradbury, who hooked the ball over his marker to give the unchallenged Matt Tubbs, on loan from Salisbury, the chance to head home his maiden Bournemouth goal.
But with time running out, referee Gavin Ward pointed to the penalty spot after a foul by Scott Guyett, and ex-Northern Ireland striker Paul McVeigh blasted home from 12 yards.
The result finally wiped out the 17-point deficit imposed at the start of the season – but having reached zero points, the Cherries still faced an enormous task to avoid relegation alongside Luton, who already looked doomed, despite having clawed their way from minus 30 to minus 10 with this result.
But Bournemouth would move on without Anderton, who had become disillusioned with Quinn’s management. He announced that the next game, at home to Chester, would be his final match before retirement.
Cherries: Jalal, Ward, Guyett, Pearce, Garry, Molesley (Pitman 90), Cooper, Hollands, McQuoid (Igoe 68), Tubbs, Bradbury (Symes 90). Subs not used: Anderton, Pryce.
Mixed. Despite some good results there since the late 1990s, a poor pre-war record – including some thumping defeats – probably makes Kenilworth Road, overall, a ground for complaint.