1928/29 match ball

Links With The Past: Lacing Needles & Canadian Tours

In the latest instalment of Links With The Past, Club Historian John Hutchinson picks out two significant pieces of memorabilia from Leicester City’s long history.
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When Leicester City became Premier League champions, the Club received a letter of congratulation from 82-year-old Peter Ryding, who lives in Birmingham.

Enclosed with the letter was a rare example of a ‘lacing needle’, used to secure the lacing that appeared on footballs many years ago.

Peter’s letter explained that the needle was used, when the football was deflated, to thread the lace in sequence through the laceholes after one end of the lace had been ‘tied off’ beneath the leather.

The needle was then drawn back beneath the lacing along the length of the two rows of eyelets. Next, the ball was inflated to the required pressure. The lace would then be tightened. This was done by using the hook to pull up the lace between each set of eyelets. The two rings on the needle facilitated the grip necessary for this. Any surplus lace was then trimmed off.

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Lacing needle
Lacing needle

This lacing needle was used to secure lacing on traditional footballs as also seen in this article.

This lacing needle is now on display in King Power Stadium’s reception area alongside the treasured laced match ball from the 10-0 defeat of Portsmouth in an old First Division match in 1928/29.

Ernie Hine, who played for both Leicester City and Manchester United (as well as for Barnsley and Huddersfield Town) is one of the great names in Leicester City’s history.

During his time at Filbert Street, between 1926 and 1932, he scored 156 goals, making him the third-highest scorer in the Club’s history. He played in the Leicester City side which came within a point of winning the League title in 1929. While at Filbert Street, he won six England caps, scoring four goals and represented the Football League five times.

Ernie was selected for the FA tour of Canada in 1931. His granddaughter, Rosemary Walker, has loaned two mementoes from that tour to the Club.

The lapel badge commemorating the tour has a central design which combines the English Rose and the Canadian Maple leaf. The booklet details the tour’s itinerary.

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Lapel badge and booklet
Lapel badge and booklet

The FA's Canadian tour took place in the summer of 1931, and featured 17 games.

A week was spent crossing the Atlantic on ‘SS Duchess of Atholl’ which arrived in Canada on 22 May. Over the next eight weeks, 17 games were played. These were in Montreal, Ontario, Toronto, Fort William, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, Calgary and Hamilton.

Ernie’s neat handwriting records that all 17 games were won. The team scored 107 goals and conceded only 12.  

The booklet also lists the 18 players in the squad, which included Ernie’s Leicester City team-mate and England international Len Barry. The ‘Team Attendant’ was Arsenal’s ex-player and future manager Tom Whittaker.

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