Luxton: ‘Newquay helped me fall in love with game’
Luxton: ‘Newquay helped me fall in love with game’
Chris Luxton in action for Bodmin Town at AFC St Austell
6th April 2021
By Tom Howe
Australia-based Chris Luxton recalls the time he spent at Newquay AFC with the Voice’s head of sport Tom Howe.
It is a touch over a decade since Bodmin-born Chris Luxton lit up South West Peninsula League football as a teenage forward for both his hometown club and for Newquay.
Having been released by Plymouth Argyle aged 16, Luxton went on to make an instant impact in the grassroots game, coming off the bench to score on his debut for Jim Hilton’s Newquay, who he helped to second place in the 2008-09 SWPL Division One West season.
His performance caught the eye of Bodmin manager, Darren Gilbert, who brought him home to Priory Park in the summer of 2009. Luxton took the step up to SWPL Premier in his stride, earning two league titles and two second-place finishes in his four seasons with the club.
The striker added to his growing selection of silverware with two League Cup winner’s medals and four Cornwall Senior Cup triumphs on the trot, as well as reaching the fifth round of the FA Vase in 2012-13 and the third qualifying round of the FA Cup in 2011-12. During that final Senior Cup win, a 4-3 victory over Helston Athletic, Luxton suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, something which ultimately led him on a journey to the other side of the world.
“I’m a Bodmin lad and group up in Bodmin but for most of my younger years I was at Plymouth Argyle,” he told the Voice. “I was on and off with them, I think they released and signed me three different times from when I was nine until under-16s. I didn’t get an apprenticeship and, to be honest, I started hating football. It was a chore. I was 16-years-old and they kind of took the fun out of it for me. Travelling to Plymouth three nights a week and on the Saturday or Sunday travelling away to Swindon or whatever, I appreciate you have got to do that if you want to be a professional footballer but at 16, when your mates are having fun and things like that, it is quite a big sacrifice.
“Growing up I was good friends with Jim Hilton, whose son Lewis was the year below me at Argyle. I had literally just turned 16 and was eligible to play men’s football. He asked if I wanted to come down to Newquay and enjoy my football, to have a laugh without any pressure. I was a bit scared at the time because I’m not the biggest and I would be a 16-year-old playing men’s football.
“I remember, with one of my first touches after I came on, I scored and ever since then the fans were unbelievable with me. It was quite important to me and Newquay will always have a special part in me. The people down there are absolutely brilliant and they were good to me. I knew that because of the reaction I would get when I went into the clubhouse. I went from literally hating football at Plymouth to absolutely loving it.
“Darren Gilbert gave me a call and put seven-days in for me. At the time, the team they had at Bodmin was probably one of the best there has been. They were winning all of the leagues, all of the cups and they were doing well in the FA Cup and in the FA Vase. As a 16-year-old, when your hometown asks you to play football for them and probably, bar Truro, that is the best team in the county, I couldn’t say no to that.”
Having finished second to Penzance in Division One West, Luxton, still only 17, transferred to runaway Premier Division champions Bodmin for the 2009-10 season, playing alongside the likes of Kevin Miller, Nick Campbell, Sam Matthews, Olly Brokenshire, Lee Doel, Shane Krac, Huw Morgan, Danny O’Hagan and Adam Carter to name but a few during his time at Priory Park.
“I never lost a Senior Cup game with Bodmin. I was there for four seasons and we won four Senior Cups in a row. We only lost two games in one of the seasons and didn’t draw any. We conceded the fewest goals with Steve Simmonds and Tom Chambers at centre-half. That Bodmin team that I played in for all those years was the best team I’ve ever played in.
“Every time we played, especially at Priory Park, we knew we were going to win. Not that we were arrogant about it but it that was the expectation. I had a lot of fun at Bodmin. Over here it’s a lot different and my priorities in life have changed. I did my ACL in the Senior Cup final when we beat Helston. I didn’t do my rehab properly and my knee wasn’t really right. I was going to go to Truro with Steve Massey but my knee still wasn’t right. It was five or six months after my knee operation and I just thought, I’m not playing football and, in Cornwall, there’s not a lot going on, is there? I didn’t really want to be there anymore, it was cold and it was raining and I felt like going travelling and seeing what happened.
“I thought, I can’t play football because an ACL takes at least a year to get back from so I went by myself to Australia. Somebody attacked me over there. From that I was actually in an induced coma for five days with a fractured skull and a brain bleed. I had only been in Australia for three months when that happened. I still didn’t want to go home - much to my mum’s displeasure. I stayed out here for my recovery and found work. Darren had actually put me through a bricklaying apprenticeship with his company. I was at college and didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t really enjoying it, so I did my bricklaying apprenticeship through Darren.
“I finished it, passed it and when I got to Australia I actually ended up getting sponsored by a company over here and getting my visa because of that apprenticeship. I’ve got Darren to thank for a lot for that. He gave me an opportunity in life that I wouldn’t have been able to have had. The company I am working for now gave me a four-year sponsored visa and from that I can go for my permanent residency. That is the goal, to become a citizen. The way of life over here is more chilled. In England it is work, work, work but Australian’s are more chilled out which kind of suits me.”