Leicester Fosse finished in the bottom four of the League (which only had two divisions) during 1910/11. Lotinga’s Weekly featured Fosse’s Second Division game against Clapton Orient.
An upturn in fortunes
In March 1912, Fosse appointed the League’s youngest manager, Croydon Common’s 34-year-old boss Jack Bartlett, who took the team to a respectable 10th in the Second Division.
At the Club offices at Stanley Chambers in Gallowtree Gate, the Directors, to save money, recruited inexperienced non-league players, hastening their decline.
In a disastrous 1913/14 season, which saw Fosse narrowly avoid the bottom two positions of the league, Tommy Benfield’s goal for Fosse against Woolwich Arsenal was the first goal ever scored at Highbury.
Fosse in frame
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.
Robert Messer's medals
Over 50 Leicester Fosse players, past and present, fought, died or were decorated during the war. Benfield was amongst the 15 men who had at some time played for Fosse and were killed in action, as was Robert Messer, whose medals are in the Club’s collection.
Playing in blue and white striped shirts, Fosse’s downward spiral continued in the wartime regional competitions. There was little chance of the Club surviving in its present form once hostilities had ceased.
Rowton Buildings, Bowling Green Street
In 1919, at Simpson and Bennett’s Solicitors’ office in the Rownton Buildings on Bowling Green Street, debt-ridden Leicester Fosse was wound up and Leicester City Football Club was created.
George Douglas, an old Fosse player, scored the new club’s first goal in their first-ever game, a 2-1 Second Division home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The new board soon appointed Scot Peter Hodge as the first manager. Unusually for those days, he was given full responsibility for football matters.
The Club’s first trainer was Dave Gardner who, several years later, helped guide them to the heights of the First Division until he died on Longcliffe golf course in 1931.
With the team near the foot of the table, Hodge signed prolific goalscorer and Scottish international Jock Paterson who scored the Club’s first hat-trick in March 1920.
Adam Black's debut
This small newspaper cutting records Hodge’s next (and hugely significant) signing, war hero Adam Black, who went on to claim the Club record for most league appearances (528).
An audience from the King
This silk programme was produced for Leicester’s FA Cup match against Chelsea at ‘The Stamford Bridge Grounds’ in the presence of King George V.
In 1920, Leicester City finished their first season in 14th position out of 20. Home crowds averaged over 13,000. The Club’s financial ledger indicates that they finished in profit.