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Gillingham manager Steve Lovell recalls his last visit to Luton's Kenilworth Road when Millwall fans ran riot in an FA Cup encounter

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell will be locking horns with Luton manager Mick Harford for the first time since the infamous Kenilworth Road riot of 1985.

Harford was put in charge of Luton for the remainder of the season after an impressive stint in caretaker charge following Nathan Jones’ departure for Stoke.

Lovell remembers his last visit to Kenilworth Road, as a player for Millwall, when the ground was overrun by rioting Millwall fans before, during and after the FA Cup semi-final 34 years ago.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Jones

Harford was the opposing centre-forward that day, amid the carnage.

Lovell said: “We have met each other on a number of occasions since then but this will be the first time both of us will be managing, so it will be interesting.

“This will be the first I have gone back there, it was 1984-85, a long time ago.

“I was only recently telling my grandson about it and he couldn’t believe what happened there. There were so many people there that night, it was unbelievable. It’s no wonder there was problems, there were too many people but that was a long time ago.”

Luton Town manager Mick Harford Picture:Barry Goodwin
Luton Town manager Mick Harford Picture:Barry Goodwin

While Millwall fans ran amok that night, Luton at least won the battle on the pitch, winning 1-0 to progress to the FA Cup semi-finals.

The Bedfordshire side are on the up again, having dropped out of the league a decade ago, and are on course to make it back-to-back promotions after finishing runners-up in League 2 last season.

Jones put them on track towards another promotion battle this season before being lured away by Stoke in January.

For Lovell, it’s no surprise to see how the club have turned things around, initially under Jones, who like the Gills boss worked at Charlton under the tutelage of Paul Hart.

“We both learnt off Harty,” said Lovell.

“I wasn’t surprised that Luton were good because Nathan is a good coach, he has done well with them and I am sure he will do well at Stoke as well.”

Defender Alex Lacey is expected to be available for selection again this weekend, following injury, but there is still no certainty on Ricky Holmes' situation, as he nears a debut following a back injury.

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