Peterborough United legend clashed with a manager who thought players were too thick to understand complicated tactics, but it worked out ok in the end!
There was a serious clash of footballing cultures between a player raised on the fabulous football of Ron Atkinson’s West Brom side of the 1980s and a manager who believed players were too thick to understand complicated tactics.
John Wile signed Luke as a winger from Mansfield in 1986 and he performed well in a poor side before he morphed into a full-back under Noel Cantwell and Mick Jones.
And then Turner arrived at London Road.....
“Chris pulled me and said I was to be a full-back who stayed in his own half,” Luke recalled. “He told me under no circumstances was I to overlap Worrell Sterling on the right wing.
“I clashed with about that as I was really a winger and going forward, running at people and delivering crosses were my strengths.
“Chris then told me not to bother trying to pick a pass to a teammate. I was to knock the ball into the channels and he would get someone to run after it.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I fancied myself a bit on the ball. I fancied I could pick out good passes and I told Chris as much. What he was saying went against everything I’d ever been taught, but he wasn’t interested. It was his way. There was no other way and I suppose it didn’t work out too bad!
“We were a very direct side and it worked for us. We were also a very fit side. Soon after Chris took over the weather turned bad and all we did for two weeks was run. It was the middle of the season and we weren’t seeing a ball, but players and fans accepted any method if it meant we were winning games and we became pretty good at that.
“We won promotion from Division Four that season and on the way back from that final match at Chesterfield Chris told me I’d played my last game at right-back. He felt someone with my skills should play further forward and he then spent the next season trying to replace me with Chris White, Danis Salman and Graham Retallick, but none of them worked out and soon I was at Wembley celebrating another promotion!
“Chris just had a knack of getting the best out of everyone.”
*More from Noel Luke to come tomorrow (April 19) including the time he took his life into his own hands during promotion celebrations in 1991 and a very sorry departure from London Road.