Filbert Street

Filbert Street

On 11 May, 2002, Leicester City played their final-ever competitive fixture at Filbert Street, the Football Club's home for the preceding 111 years.

Between 1891 and 2002, the Club won a total 1,249 games at Filbert Street, scoring 4,700 goals, concluding with Matt Piper's winner against Tottenham Hotspur 19 years ago. Leicester Fosse, under the Club's original name, was founded in 1884, just 21 years after the establishment of The FA.

They initially played on a private field off Fosse Road South, then at Victoria Park, Belgrave Road, Mill Lane - today at the heart of the De Montfort University campus - and Grace Road before, in October 1891, an opportunity arose to home the Club on Filbert Street.

Ever since, Leicester Fosse and then Leicester City were associated clearly with Filbert Street, to the extent that our Club mascot, Filbert Fox, still today is named in our former home's honour. King Power Stadium, meanwhile, which paid witness to the Club becoming English champions for the first time in 2016, is based on Filbert Way, just a stone's throw from where Filbert Street once stood.

Martin O'Neill, an iconic manager in Leicester's history, once joked he would lead prospective new signings out backwards, to prevent them catching sight of the modest, run-down, East Stand. It was home, though, and the unique impact it left on the city's skyline is a nostalgic reminder of our heritage.

The firsts

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Floodlights at Filbert Street
Floodlights at Filbert Street

The inaugural floodlit match against Borussia Dortmund was followed by others against Beogradski and Rio do Canto later that season.

The maiden competitive fixture played at the Club's then-new home arrived on 28 November, 1891, as Fosse were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Loughborough Town with Ernest Mouel netting for the home side.

Leicester entered the FA Cup in the first qualifying round on 15 October a year later, with hat-tricks from Harry Webb and Billy Dorrall, plus a solitary effort from William Lowe, booking a 7-0 win over Rushden.

It would take another 41 years, meanwhile, for foreign opposition to grace Filbert Street's turf, as Rapid Vienna booked a 3-1 friendly victory over City in the winter of 1933 on 28 January of that year.

Another European side helped the Club inaugurate Filbert Street's new floodlights on 23 October, 1957 with Dave Halliday's Foxes registering a 1-0 friendly success against Borussia Dortmund.

Aside from a brief spell in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1961, which saw Irish side Glenavon beaten 3-1 on 27 September, competitive European matches were a rarity.

Nonetheless, the first of two UEFA Cup ties to be contested at Leicester's former home was staged on 30 September, 1997 with Juninho Paulista and Kiko Narváez giving Atlético Madrid victory.

The lasts

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Filbert Street
Filbert Street

City's former stadium played host to some memorable moments for the Blue Army

Naturally, the 2001/02 Premier League season was a campaign of notable landmarks for the Club as the Foxes faithful prepared to move to pastures new at King Power Stadium.

Mercifully, despite a torrid final year on the field for Leicester at Filbert Street, Micky Adams' side were able to go out with a victory, defeating Spurs 2-1 on 11 May, 2002. Academy graduate Matt Piper has the honour of registering City's last-ever goal there, a diving header in front of the old Double Decker Stand in the 71st minute.

Leicester's last defeat, meanwhile, was also Dave Bassett's final match in charge as relegation was confirmed, despite a spirited display, in a 1-0 loss to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.

Popular Turkey international Muzzy Izzet converted the last penalty by a Foxes player at Filbert Street, in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on 20 April, 2002, but it came too came too late to prevent City from relegation. Youngster Tom Williamson, on the other hand, was the final debutant, as a late substitute against Spurs, while also netting, unofficially, the last 'goal' in an ex-City XI fixture two days later.

The numbers

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Arthur Chandler most goals scorers at Filbert Street

After over a century of history, the largest Premier League home victory ever witnessed by the Blue Army at Filbert Street came during their antepenultimate campaign there.

Stan Collymore's hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Sunderland on 5 March, 2000 is a lasting memory of Martin O'Neill's era and came a week after their League Cup Final triumph over Tranmere Rovers.

Elsewhere, City's 10-0 rout of Portsmouth (1928) and Fosse's 9-1 successes against Walsall Town Swifts (1895) and Gainsborough Trinity (1909) were the most comprehensive triumphs in the First and Second Divisions respectively.

Fans of recent generations, meanwhile, will remember a 3-3 draw with Arsenal in 1997, but a 6-6 stalemate with the Gunners on 21 April, 1930 is in fact Filbert Street's highest-ever score draw. In terms of attendances, in the days preceding all-seater venues, 47,298 supporters huddled onto the terraces for a 3-0 loss to Tottenham in the FA Cup Fifth Round on 18 February, 1928.

It won't surprise many to learn that the Club's all-time top goalscorer Arthur Chandler netted 173 of his 273 efforts at Filbert Street, while Arsenal and Birmingham City were the most regular visitors (65 occasions).

The sequences

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Lucas Radebe
Lucas Radebe

South African Lucas Radebe was dismissed a joint-record twice at Filbert Street.

Between 3 September to 29 December in 1906, the Fossils won 13 Second Division home fixtures in a row during a congested fixture schedule of clashes at Filbert Street.

The longest unbeaten run, on the other hand, is equally impressive with Fosse going 40 home games without defeat at Filbert Street over a two-year spell between 12 February 1898 and 17 April, 1900.

Many may expect Steve Walsh to be among Filbert Street's list of players most commonly sent off at the venue, but he in fact was only dismissed on one occasion on home soil.

One of three players to be dismissed a record two times there was Steve Lynex, while Swindon Town's Steve Folley (1987 and 1988) and Leeds United's Lucas Radebe (1999 and 2000) complete the list.

The last occasion in which the Foxes were able to collect consecutive Filbert Street victories meanwhile, came in 2001 as Peter Taylor's men beat Sunderland and Liverpool over February and March.

The legacy

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A full house
A full house

Naturally, Filbert Street was packed out for its last-ever match, with a crowd of 21,716 in attendance for the game.

Filbert Street will forever hold a special place in the hearts of all fans lucky enough to watch their beloved Foxes play there over 111 years which spanned from the Victorian era to a new millennium.

In total, 27 full-time Fosse or City managers oversaw Leicester first teams at Filbert Street, covering 2,432 matches, 1,249 victories, 595 draws and 588 losses, scoring 4,700 goals.

It was a venue which withstood Nazi bombs, witnessed euphoric pitch invasions aplenty, double hat-tricks by Arthur Chandler and John Duncan, and delirious European nights. Filbert Street may have been the subject of ridicule from supporters of other clubs, but it was home to countless generations of Leicester City supporters.

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