Alan Young & Steve Lynex

Remembering Leicester City's 1982 FA Cup Run

After Leicester City's progression into the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Finals, remembers the tale of how Jock Wallace's Foxes reached the last-four in 1982.
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On Sunday, the Foxes beat Manchester United 3-1 at King Power Stadium, booking their spot in the semi-finals for the first time in nearly four decades.

Some 39 years ago, on 3 April, 1982, to be precise, Leicester made the short trip to Villa Park to play Tottenham Hotspur in the prestigious competition's final-four stage.

As was tradition back then, the semi-finals were held at neutral venues, rather than at Wembley, like today. Following a line of successful Scottish managers at Filbert Street, such as Peter Hodge and Matt Gillies, Jock Wallace had continued the trend by steering Leicester to the Second Division title in 1980.

Two years later, with City back in the second tier following relegation, all eyes were on the FA Cup, as the Foxes reached the last four for the first time since 1974.

In contrast, it was Tottenham’s second successive semi-final and they boasted talents such as Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Villa, as well as mercurial midfielder Glenn Hoddle. City, meanwhile, had the firepower of emerging home-grown forward Gary Lineker to call upon, who had broken into the first team under the management of Wallace.

The Foxes had seen off Southampton, Hereford, Watford and Shrewsbury Town to get to this stage of the competition, playing three goalkeepers in the clash against the Shrews.

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Gary Lineker, Steve Lynex and Alan Smith

Lineker was becoming an established member of City's first team.

The journey started on 2 January, 1982, with a 3-1 victory over the Saints at Filbert Street, in a tie watched by over 20,000. Alan Young bagged a brace and Lineker scored the other to send City into the fourth round, as Kevin Keegan's strike for Southampton proved to be nothing more than a consolation. 

Hereford, who famously beat top-flight Newcastle United a decade earlier in one of the greatest FA Cup shocks of all-time, awaited at the next stage. City were drawn away to the Fourth Division side, in a tie played later that month, and avoided an upset thanks to a single goal from defender Larry May.  

Leicester were back at home for the fifth round and made light work of seeing off Watford by winning 2-0 in early February. Another defender was on the scoresheet - David O'Neil finding the net this time, before an own goal sealed City's passage into the quarter-finals.

Then came the most dramatic tie of the run, which saw the Foxes welcome Shrewsbury to Filbert Street on 6 March. Shrewsbury had sent UEFA Cup holders Ipswich Town packing in the last round and were in a confident mood as they took on their league rivals.

However, it was City who started brightly with May once again on the scoresheet, putting the Foxes in front with a header from a corner just six minutes into the game.

The drama started when Leicester ‘keeper Mark Wallington was badly injured in a collision with Chic Bates halfway through the first period. Wallington managed to continue briefly, but soon conceded twice as Bates and then Jack Keay put the away side into the lead.

Following Wallington's departure, forward Young stepped in and donned the gloves. Leicester were immediately back on level terms as Steve Biggins put through his own net. City’s goalkeeper woes were not over, though, and after Young landed awkwardly in another collision, Steve Lynex became the third player to stand between the sticks for the home side.

Briefly down to 10 men, Wallace decided to bring Young back on, firstly as an outfield player, and then in goal. The decision paid off as Lynex, now on the right wing, assisted the third goal, scored by Jim Melrose. Lineker then scored the fourth to all but seal the tie and Melrose grabbed his second, heading in from close range to complete the triumph.

The semi-final tie was played against the backdrop of the emerging Falklands War and news of a huge task force setting sail to the South Atlantic, following the Argentine invasion of the Islands.

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Alan Young & Steve Lynex

Striker Alan Young changes into a goalkeeper kit, replacing Steve Lynex in goal, against Shrewsbury.

Matchday preparations were far from ideal for Leicester, with the journey to the stadium made difficult by the late arrival of their police escort for the team coach. Around 20,000 Foxes fans descended on Birmingham, 7,000 more than at Leicester’s last league game at Filbert Street, and they were in good voice as kick-off approached.

There was a bizarre delay to proceedings, however, as Spurs supporters released a live cockerel onto the pitch, pushing back kick-off by several minutes.

Once underway, the game itself proved to be a tight one and the deadlock was not broken until early in the second period. From a short Hoddle corner, Garth Crooks got on the end of Ardiles’ cross to open the scoring for the Lilywhites on 57 minutes.

Things were to get worse for the Foxes as full-back Tommy Williams broke his leg in a tackle with Tony Galvin. Melrose had replaced Young at half-time and so, with no substitutes left to call upon, City played with 10 men, battling on against their top-flight opponents.

But it was Spurs who booked a second successive Wembley Cup final appearance, as with 15 minutes to go, midfielder Ian Wilson lifted his back pass over ‘keeper Wallington’s head and into his own net.

Late chances for Lineker and Lynex to test Spurs goalkeeper Ray Clemence were in vain as Tottenham had full control of the tie and Leicester fans’ dream of seeing their side reach a Wembley final were shattered.

Spurs, managed by Keith Burkinshaw, went on to lift the FA Cup, beating Queens Park Rangers in the final.

At the end of the 1981/82 season, Wallace left the Club after four years in charge, returning to Scotland to manage Motherwell. 

Leicester City Crest