The Ice Kings

Potted History

Leicester City Football Club boasts one of the richest and most storied histories in English football, spanning an incredible 137 years.

Just 21 years after the establishment of The Football Association, at the Freemasons' Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, a bible class at the now-demolished Emanuel Chapel on New Park Street, Leicester, contemplated forming a new football club.

Many of them had grown up together at the old Wyggeston School on Southgate Street. Reverend Lewellyn H Parsons and his bible class spoke of an exciting future for their fledgling club.

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Wyggeston School
Wyggeston School

Several of Leicester Fosse's founders had been pupils at the old Wyggeston School in Southgate Street.

The Fosse Way, the name of an old Roman thoroughfare that linked England’s South West with its North East, acted as their starting point for a name. The Club's founders formed a committee among themselves, paying nine pence each upon entry, and another nine pence to buy a football.

Leicester Fosse’s first-ever match was staged on the first day of November in 1884 and it was held in front of a modest crowd on a private field off Fosse Road South, as the new club ran out 5-0 victors over Syston Fosse.

As the Fosse is known throughout the land, so the new club shall be known to the future.

Frank Gardner Club Secretary

The average age of their line-up was just 16 as braces from Arthur West and Hilton Johnson, as well as a solitary goal from Sam Dingley, secured victory. The notion of football being a spectator sport, though, was some distance away and the focus was primarily on participation and fitness.

Between 1884 and 1887, their first regular venue was Victoria Park, but a move to the Belgrave Road Cycle and Cricket Ground was curtailed a year later when the Leicester Tigers Rugby Club outbid them in 1888.

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Leicester Fosse 1890/91
Leicester Fosse 1890/91

For many years, Leicester Fosse did not have a crest on their shirts. The Club's teams did sometimes sport the town of Leicester’s coat of arms on their shirts.

Fosse were forced to return to Victoria Park but did find a home on Mill Lane, which today lies at the heart of the De Montfort University campus. The Club’s maiden season on Mill Lane included a first piece of silverware for the new club, which was nicknamed the Fossils or the Ancients in its early life.

Fosse defeated Coalville in the Leicestershire County Cup final in Loughborough in 1890 and, during the following season, it was also introduced to the FA Cup for the first-ever time.

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Stanley Chambers
Stanley Chambers

The Club would eventually move their offices at Silver Arcade to Stanley Chambers in Gallowtree Gate, pictured here, as well as a home at Filbert Street.

They still struggled to secure a full-time headquarters and, when residential houses were commissioned to be built on Mill Lane, a brief stint at the Grace Road Cricket Ground was considered to be their only alternative.

In October of 1891, an opportunity arose to base the Club on Filbert Street at a venue which was then known to the public as the Walnut Street Ground.

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Filbert Street
Filbert Street

Filbert Street was Leicester City's home for 111 years and often attracted crowds far larger than its stated capacity.

The Fossils’ first full season in the Midland League proved difficult and, despite attracting crowds of up to 4,000 spectators on Filbert Street, it would take them three years to fully settle.

By the time the 1893/94 campaign came about, the Club boasted a total of 19 professional footballers and finished second.

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Leicester Fosse: 1893/94
Leicester Fosse: 1893/94

The Leicester Fosse squad of 1893/94 was an example of the Club's progress with real international pedigree among the ranks.

Following months of lobbying, a major moment in the Club’s history arrived in 1894 as a AGM granted Fosse with enough votes to earn election to the recently-formed Second Division within the Football League pyramid.

After wearing an iconic black strip with a sky-blue sash and long white trousers, by the time of their inaugural Football League fixture, they had switched to chocolate brown and blue halves before, in 1903, electing to wear the blue and white colours recognisable today.

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Chocolate brown and blue halves
Chocolate brown and blue halves

Bowler hats, moustaches, early shin pads and Fosse's chocolate brown and light blue home kits.

It was to take Leicester Fosse 14 years to earn promotion to the top division in the Football League as a side including ex-England centre-half Billy Bannister draw in crowds of nearly 13,000.

Their stay in the top-flight, though, was to be a short one as relegation followed just a year later and, as the Club struggled financially, Fosse entered a period of damaging decline.

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Leicester Fosse 1914/15
Leicester Fosse 1914/15

Controversially, league football continued for a full season after the outbreak of the First World War. Fosse finished bottom but one in the Football League ahead of Glossop, but, unlike Glossop, they were re-elected to the League.

As the First World War brought about serious domestic unrest in the United Kingdom, the Football League was suspended in April 1915 and Fosse, who had finished second-bottom in the Second Division, had to seek re-election to preserve their Football League status.

As many of the Club’s players headed to join the Allied Powers in conflict with the Germans on the continent, those who remained competed in wartime regional competitions.

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Fosse Share certificates
Fosse Share certificates

Leicester Fosse share certificates, which have been loaned to the Club by John Sharp. Louis Burridge, a founder director of Leicester City in 1919, was the owner of these share certificates.

Financial woes meant there was little chance of the Club surviving for long once hostilities had ceased in the winter of 1918.

A change was needed to prevent the Club from sliding out of existence. Overwhelmed by financial problems, the Club was taken over by a new company registered as ‘Leicester City Football Club’ in 1919.

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King George V and Queen Mary
King George V and Queen Mary

A visit to Leicester from King George V and Queen Mary sees the town become a city and so, in response, the Club is reformed as Leicester City.

Leicester City have won the second tier title a record seven times, lifted the FA Cup once, won the League Cup three times, sealed the FA Community Shield twice, and competed in six European campaigns, most notably in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League, when the Club reached the quarter-finals.

Their crowning achievement was to win the Premier League title in 2015/16 under Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, despite pre-season odds of 5,000/1 for them to achieve the feat.

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Filbert Street
Filbert Street

The owners of the Filbert Street ground, the Corporation, was planning to evict the Football Club during the Second World War. They wished to redevelop the site in order to extend the nearby electricity power station

There have been many highlights. In 1929, the Club came within one point of winning the league title in 1929 with a team containing Club-record goalscorer Arthur Chandler and England internationals Hugh Adcock, Ernie Hine and Len Barry.

The 1930s were less successful and when league football resumed after the Second World War, the Club was in the Second Division. Against the odds, they reached the 1949 FA Cup final. They were promoted back into the top flight in 1954 and again in 1957.

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Arthur Chandler
Arthur Chandler

With 273 goals, Club legend Arthur Chandler remains Leicester City's top goalscorer to the present day.

Many of their goals were scored by Arthur Rowley, whose career total 434 league goals is an all-time British record. The team reached the FA Cup final in 1961, 1963 and 1969. They would have to wait 52 years to finally lift the most prestigious knock-out trophy in English football. 

The famous ‘Ice Kings’ side were realistic contenders for the league and cup double in 1963. They won the League Cup in 1964, and were beaten finalists a year later.

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The Ice Kings
The Ice Kings

The legendary 'The Ice Kings' side regularly challenged for major honours and earned Leicester City a reputation for attacking football.

They competed in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1961 and Leicester City goalkeeper Gordon Banks won a World Cup winners’ medal with England in 1966.

Back in the top flight, after a brief spell in the Second Division, the Leicester City side of the 1970s was one of the most entertaining sides in the country, but they were relegated in 1978.

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Four England internationals
Four England internationals

Keith Weller, Steve Whitworth, Peter Shilton and Frank Worthington at Belvoir Drive in September 1974 after their England call-ups.

In 1971, meanwhile, after the league and cup double was secured by Arsenal, who were contracted to participate in a pre-season fixture on the weekend of the FA Charity Shield (now the FA Community Shield), Second Division champions Leicester faced FA Cup runners-up Liverpool in the showpiece.

Steve Whitworth's only goal for the Club secured a 1-0 victory over the Reds at Filbert Street on 7 August, 1971 - exactly 50 years before the Foxes would win the Community Shield for the second time.

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Promotion in 1983
Promotion in 1983

Promotion to the old First Division is celebrated at Filbert Street after the end of a dramatic 1982/83 campaign under Gordon Milne's management.

The 1980s saw two more promotions and two relegations to and from the top flight. Gary Lineker, Alan Smith and Steve Lynex notably scored over 150 goals between them in a three- season spell.

The 1990s included a staggering seven visits to Wembley in nine years. Two resulted in Play-off wins to secure promotion to the Premier League, in 1994 and 1996.

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Steve Walsh
Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh added to his status as many Foxes fans' favourite player with a brace in the old First Division play-off final against Derby County in 1994.

Two more enabled the Club to win the League Cup again in 1997 (after a replay at Hillsborough) and 2000. It was a vintage time to support the Foxes as they headed into a new millennium. 

In the last four years of the decade, Martin O’Neill’s Leicester City side achieved four consecutive top-10 finishes and qualified twice for the UEFA Cup.

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Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

With Martin O'Neill at the helm, Leicester City became an admired side in the late 20th century, winning two League Cups and finishing in the new Premier League's top-10 four years in a row.

Leicester started the 21st century in the Premier League. However, they were relegated in 2002 just before moving from Filbert Street to their new stadium, King Power Stadium.

The Club went into a period of administration in October 2002, but they were promoted back to the Premier League in 2003 - and later relegated again in 2004.

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Filbert Street & King Power Stadium
Filbert Street & King Power Stadium

Old and new collide in this photograph taken from the air during the last-ever game at Filbert Street, a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, with the new stadium on the horizon.

Leicester City was bought by new owner Milan Mandarić in 2007, relegated to League 1 for the first time in their history in 2007/08, and promoted back to Championship as League 1 champions at the first attempt in 2008/09.

In 2010, the Club was taken over by a Thai-led consortium called Asian Football Investments, which was fronted by King Power’s Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who became Chairman in 2011.

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The journey begins
The journey begins

King Power International completes a takeover of Leicester City Football Club on 8 August, 2010.

His son Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanapraba was one of two Vice-Chairmen. The Srivaddhanaprabha family are now sole owners of the Club. The new owners invested heavily in Leicester City Football Club.

This was a major factor in the successful record-breaking season of 2013/14 when the Foxes returned to the Premier League as the Championship title winners. They ended the campaign with 102 points under the management of Nigel Pearson. The 2014/15 season saw Leicester City’s ‘Great Escape’.

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Leicester City win the Championship
Leicester City win the Championship

A 10-year exile from the Premier League comes to an end with a record-breaking Championship title win under Nigel Pearson in 2014.

Bottom of the Premier League with nine games to go, Leicester City won seven, drew one and lost one of these games to finish 14th.

The following campaign, Leicester City became Premier League champions. Striker Jamie Vardy, signed from non-League outfit Fleetwood Town, scored in 11 consecutive Premier League fixtures to a break a record formerly held by Ruud van Nistelrooy.

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Leicester City win the Premier League
Leicester City win the Premier League

Dreams come true for everybody associated with Leicester City as the Foxes defy odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League title in 2016.

Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kanté, too, earned plaudits after joining from French sides Le Havre and Caen respectively. This remarkable achievement qualified them for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the Club’s history.

After overcoming Club Brugge, Porto and Copenhagen in the group stage, they reached the quarter-finals and beat FC Sevilla over two legs in the Round of 16. They lost 2-1 on aggregate in the last-eight to Atlético Madrid.

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Marc Albrighton
Marc Albrighton

Marc Albrighton scored the Club's first-ever goal in the UEFA Champions League during a 3-0 away win over Club Brugge in Belgium.

On Saturday 27 October 2018, Club Chairman, Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was killed in a helicopter accident, alongside four others, outside King Power Stadium. 

The floral tributes left so lovingly by the Leicester community and those far beyond in the days that followed the accident were composted and used to support the growth and development of the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden at King Power Stadium.

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Tributes at King Power Stadium
Tributes at King Power Stadium

Tributes at King Power Stadium after a helicopter crash claimed the lives of Leicester City’s Club Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, staff members Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai, and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz.

His son Khun Aiyawatt vowed to continue his father’s legacy. Under the management of former Liverpool and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, appointed in February 2019, Leicester City became a regular challenger in the upper regions of the Premier League.

After a fifth-placed finish in 2019/20 - the Club's second best-ever standing in the Premier League era - the Foxes competed in the UEFA Europa League, previously the UEFA Cup, for the first time since its reformation, reaching the Round of 32 stage with victories over SC Braga, Zorya Luhansk and AEK Athens.

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Leicester City win the FA Cup
Leicester City win the FA Cup

A 137-year wait for glory in the FA Cup finally comes to an end as Brendan Rodgers leads the Foxes to victory over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in the early summer of 2021.

In May, meanwhile, a 137-year wait for Leicester City's first FA Cup success finally came to an end. After beating Stoke City, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United and Southampton in earlier rounds, the Foxes faced Chelsea in the final at Wembley Stadium on 15 May, 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, games had been staged behind closed doors for over a year, but as part of a test event, up to 22,000 spectators were permitted to attend - including over 6,000 members of the Foxes faithful.

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Leicester City win the Community Shield
Leicester City win the Community Shield

More success follows for Leicester City as a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium secures the Club's second FA Community Shield success in August 2021.

They watched on euphorically as Youri Tielemans' stunning second-half strike secured a 1-0 win at the national stadium, sparking jubilant celebrations inside Wembley, back in Leicestershire and around the world.

It meant Leicester City had now won every major honour in English football - the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup. A second success in the FA Community Shield, formerly the FA Charity Shield, was also secured in August 2021, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley.

Leicester City Crest

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