A euphoric moment

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.

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.

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.

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

Frank Gardner Co-Founder

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.

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.

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.

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 Division Two 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.

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.

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.

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.

Leicester City have won the second tier title a record seven times, lifted the FA Cup once, won the League Cup three times, and competed in five 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Two more enabled the Club to win the League Cup again in 1997 (after a replay at Hillsborough) and 2000.

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.

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.

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.

His son Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanapraba is 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 has been 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. The 2014/15 season saw Leicester City’s ‘Great Escape’.

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.

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.

They reached the quarter-finals after winning their Champions League group and beating FC Sevilla in the Round of 16. They lost 2-1 on aggregate in the last-eight to Atlético Madrid.

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

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.

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Leicester City
Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel - who made two heroic saves on the day - hoists the FA Cup aloft alongside Club Captain Wes Morgan.

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.

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.

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.

Leicester City Crest

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