Simon Pitts is currently commentator for Luton Town’s Hatters Player stream and has been commentating on Luton since 1997.
How did you get into commentating?
I saw an advert in the programme in 1997 and they wanted a commentator for partially sighted fans as they had just got a grant which meant those fans could listen to commentary inside the stadium. I had already done some presenting on Student and Hospital radio and saw this as a way of getting to go to games regularly and do some commentary.
Did you play much football when you were younger?
I did until the age of 13 and as I was wearing glasses by then it got harder to play. Under the age of 13 though I played a lot of games for the school, for my club team and I think I played in just about every position possible.
Over the years, who’s the best Luton player you’ve seen play?
When I was younger my favourite player was Brian Stein so he’ll always be up there. I remember when Paul Walsh got sold and that was the first really good player I saw leave the club. More recently, the Frenchman Jean-Louis Valois will always be remembered but it’s difficult to pick one as there’s been so many great players over the years.
What’s been your most memorable match?
There’s several to choose from all for different reasons. There’s three that stand out for me. The Keith Keane goal against Oxford is one. Not just because of the goal but because people who didn’t really know about my commentary before the game certainly did afterwards! Commentating on the play off final at Wembley was special, we lost but Andre Gray scored so I’ve commentated on a Luton goal at Wembley. Finally the FA Cup match against Norwich. I was living on the Suffolk-Norfolk border at the time quite close to Norwich so I had some friends that were Norwich fans and to beat a Premier League team as a non-league team is very memorable.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while commentating?
There’s been a few strange mascots at games, one or two strange free kick routines but I think it’s probably when the guttering above the Oak Road End fell down after a Keith Keane shot and the game had to be stopped for a few minutes while someone climbed up a ladder and pulled it down! Also I went to Chesterfield once and we could only see half the pitch due to fog. We scored and we didn’t even know we had until all the players came running back down the other end, we celebrated about 30 seconds after the ball had gone in!
You talk a lot with the players and staff so have you noticed anything different about successful teams?
It’s noticeable that some of the players are more experienced and some of the younger players are less used to doing interviews. In terms of management there’s very different styles and for example under John Still we got promoted from non-league and under Nathan Jones we’ve also had some success and they are very different characters. I don’t think success is dependent on the style of a manager or team.
What’s the hardest part about commentating?
The long, wet midweek trips when we’re getting thrashed are always hard. I remember one match against Newport when we lost 5-2 and it was so cold, we were awful and you begin to think to yourself ‘If it wasn’t for those listening, I’d rather be elsewhere’. I really appreciate the support I get though and that’s what gets you through those games.
Who’s the best pundit you’ve commentated with?
I’ve had a few ex-players with me. Paul Benson was very good, when he was out injured he did a couple of games with me. I also had Stuart Fleetwood with me for a game and the way he celebrated us scoring was great. I’d probably have to go with Claude Gnapka though just because it was Claude! He sat with me on my 300th game for Diverse FM at York so that was very special for me.
What’s your normal match day routine?
I normally do the preparation for a game on Thursday and/or Friday and then the last bit on Saturday morning. Then I travel to the game and if it’s at home I’m responsible for the team sheets so I need to get those in, printed and distributed. Then set up all the equipment and check we’re going through okay on Hatters Player and then the match itself.
Do you think Nathan Jones is the man to get Luton promoted?
Who is the best young player coming through the ranks at the moment?
I’m a big fan of Cameron McGeehan and I really do rate him as a player and Jack Marriott I also rate. Younger than that, some of the youth team and development team, there’s too many to name! It’s really good they are coming through and great we have that quality.
And finally, where do you think Luton will finish this season?
I don’t think it’s going to be easy because there are some really good teams in League 2 but I think we have the potential for top 3.
Big thanks to Simon for taking the time to do the interview. Follow him on Twitter:https://mobile.twitter.com/simonstattop?lang=en-gb and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimonPittsCommentator/