Brian Deane

Fixture Release Day: Five Classic Openers

After taking a look at our previous five opening day Premier League fixtures, Club Historian John Hutchinson remembers some of Leicester City’s classic curtain-raisers.
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The Foxes’ 2019/20 Premier League calendar will be released at 9am BST on Thursday 12 June, live on LCFC TV via LCFC.com, Twitter and Facebook.

From eight-goal thrillers to an overhead kick that’s still spoken about today, here’s five memorable opening games from four decades in Leicester’s rich history...

Leicester City 6 Leeds United 2
1948/49 Football League Division 2
Filbert Street
Attendance: 34,937
Goals: Revie 2, 19, Lee 56, 78, McKennan 54, 89; Chisholm 5, Short 12

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Jack Lee
Jack Lee

Jack Lee scored a brace on the opening day of the 1948/49 season for Leicester City.

Johnny Duncan’s Leicester City side recorded the biggest opening day win in their history when they defeated Leeds United 6-2 on August 21, 1948.

Playing on a freshly re-turfed Filbert Street, the home side’s inside-forward Don Revie scored in the second minute, but Ken Chisholm equalised for the visitors three minutes later. John Short then gave the visitors the lead after 12 minutes, before Revie scored his a second in the 19th minute following an interchange of passes with Peter McKennan. Leicester City went on to score four more in the second half with two goals each from McKennan and Jack Lee.

Revie went on to manage Leeds United to great heights two decades later. He also went on to play for, and to manage, England. Lee later played for England. The fiery McKennan, who despite only signing for Leicester City in March 1948, left the Club six months later after falling out with manager Johnny Duncan.

Leeds goalscorer Chisholm signed for Leicester City for an £11,000 fee four months later. Like Revie and Lee, he was a key figure in Leicester City’s fight against relegation that season, a struggle which coincided with the Filbert Street side reaching the FA Cup Final, where they lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

Leicester City 3 Birmingham City 1
1969/70 Football League Division 2
Filbert Street
Attendance: 25,104
Goals: Fern 27, Manley 50, Lochhead 84; Summerill 89

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Rodney Fern
Rodney Fern

Rodney Fern's overhead kick helped the Foxes beat Birmingham City on the first day of the 1969/70 season.

This was the first opening fixture played by Leicester City outside the top flight since 1956. Despite reaching the FA Cup Final the previous season, the Club had been relegated in the last match of the campaign.

The home side, which contained eight of the Cup Final team, took the lead in the 27th minute with a brilliant overhead kick by Rodney Fern. Those who saw this goal still talk about it today. Len Glover, out on the right, was twice brought down in the space of a couple of yards, but he got to his feet on each occasion to win the ball back. He then sent over a short cross and Fern, who was standing with his back to the goal, executed an acrobatic overhead kick that dispatched the ball into the net at the far post.

Birmingham should have equalised in the 33rd minute when John Sjoberg handled in the box. Birmingham’s Dave Robinson took the penalty, but Peter Shilton dived brilliantly to punch the ball away.

Five minutes after half-time, Malcolm Manley put Leicester City further ahead with a fierce shot through a group of several players after Glover’s effort had been blocked.

With six minutes to go, Andy Lochhead headed in a cross from David Nish to make the score 3-0. In the last minute, Phil Summerill smashed the ball into the net from a cross to gain a consolation goal for the visitors. 

Leicester City 2 Huddersfield Town 2
1971/72 Football League Division 1
Filbert Street
Attendance: 16,285
Goals: Brown 2, Nish 16; Worthington 43, Cherry 87

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John Sjoberg and Frank Worthington
John Sjoberg and Frank Worthington

John Sjoberg and Frank Worthington battle for the ball during the clash with Huddersfield Town at Filbert Street.

Leicester City entered this match having beaten Liverpool the previous week to win the Charity (now Community) Shield. This was Leicester City’s first match back in the top flight after a two-year spell in the Second Division. It was the first league match for new manager Jimmy Bloomfield, and was also the first time that Frank Worthington, one of Leicester City’s great players of the 1970s, scored at Filbert Street. Unfortunately, his goal was for Huddersfield Town.

Ali Brown scored the first goal nationally of the new season when he put Leicester City ahead after only two minutes, when he rose to a perfectly placed in-swinging corner kick from Bobby Kellard. A quarter-of-an-hour later, David Nish chipped a beautiful ball over the Huddersfield goalkeeper following good work from Rodney Fern.

Huddersfield Town retaliated and put Leicester City under some pressure. Two minutes before half-time, Worthington, who was to become a Leicester City player a year later, hooked the ball through a crowded goal mouth for a well taken effort.

It looked as though Leicester would hold on for a victory, but with three minutes to go, the visitors scored a surprise, but excellent, equaliser, with Trevor Cherry’s header giving Peter Shilton no chance.

This match marked the start of the Bloomfield era when Leicester City’s brand of entertaining football was admired across the land. Huddersfield Town however were relegated at the end of the season.

Leicester City 2 Watford 0
2002/03 First Division (now the Championship)
Walkers Stadium (now King Power Stadium)
Attendance: 31,022

Goals: Deane 45, 52

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Brian Deane and Sean Dyche
Brian Deane and Sean Dyche

Brian Deane contests an aerial challenge with Sean Dyche, who now manages Premier League outfit Burnley.

Leicester City’s opening match of the 2002/03 season was also the first competitive game at the recently completed Walkers Stadium.

Newly relegated from the Premier League, Mickey Adams’ side faced Watford in front of a crowd of over 31,000 people.

In the first minute of the second half, Muzzy Izzet weaved past two defenders to the byline before cutting the ball back to new signing Nicky Summerbee whose cross was met by Brian Deane, who scored the first goal at the new stadium with a simple header inside the far post.

Seven minutes later, Deane scored his second when he side-footed a cross from James Scowcroft into the net.

Leicester City won their first six games at the new stadium, and despite the trauma of going into administration between October and February, the Club was promoted back to the Premier League at the end of the season as runners-up to Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth.

Leicester City 2 Southampton 2
2003/04 Premier League
Walkers Stadium (now King Power Stadium)
Attendance: 31,621
Goals: Dickov pen 5, Ferdinand 10; Phillips 76, Beattie 80

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Paul Dickov
Paul Dickov

Paul Dickov scored Leicester City's first goal of the 2003/04 Premier League campaign - a penalty in the fifth minute.

Leicester City’s first Premier League fixture at Walkers Stadium was against Gordon Strachan’s Southampton. Micky Adams’ preparations for the new season in the top flight had seen 10 new players arrive at the Club during the close season. Five of them – John Curtis, Ben Thatcher, Keith Gillespie, Ricardo Scimeca and Les Ferdinand – made their debuts in this game.

Leicester City went 2-0 up in the first 10 minutes. Paul Dickov scored with a controversial penalty after five minutes and Les Ferdinand headed in a second five minutes later.

Substitute Kevin Phillips, making his debut for the Saints and himself a Leicester City player 10 years later, blasted a 30-yard right-footed shot past Ian Walker in the 76th minute. Four minutes later, Phillips’ shot came back of the post for James Beattie to ram home the equaliser.

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