Alan Smith

Foxes Firsts: Playing On A Sunday In 1983

In a new series, Assistant Club Historian Elsie Flynn recounts those occasions in the Club’s history when Leicester City experienced an event for the very first time - continuing her series this week with the Foxes' maiden Sunday matchday.
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Nowadays, it's sometimes called Super Sunday. A day to trump all other days. A day that completely justifies, for one reason or another, parking yourself on the sofa, in front of the television, or preferably at the stadium itself. A day that, quite often, is filled with the highest drama in football. 

Of course, the viewing extravaganza is a relatively new one. Football hit our TV screens on a more regular basis in the early 1990s, and ‘Super Sunday’ was born. But there was a time, two decades before this, where the idea of a game taking place on a Sunday was almost scandalous.

Sunday was off limits. It was also, technically, illegal. 

The Sunday Observance Act of 1780 prohibited admission to a building on a Sunday for payment, or ‘by tickets sold for money’, and any such establishment would be deemed a ‘disorderly house or place’. Those caught rebelling against the 1780 Act were issued with a hefty £200 fine, too. 

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Gordon Milne
Gordon Milne

Gordon Milne was the manager who oversaw Leicester's maiden Sunday matchday.

But as the pressure mounted in the 1970s – a whole 190 years after the Sunday Observance Act was passed - for the game to leak into the latter half of the weekend, clubs contrived a cunning plan to avoid breaking the law: they made entry into grounds technically free on Sundays.

But the purchasing of a programme was compulsory. Fierce resistance from the more traditionalist voices in the game soon became overshadowed, and, by the 1980s, Sunday football had become ingrained into the fabric of the sport. 

Leicester City’s Sunday debut came on 4 December, 1983, against none other than their East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. Gordon Milne’s men – in their shiny, new Ind Coope-sponsored shirt – travelled to Brian Clough’s stomping ground, sitting in 20th place in the First Division.

Their first taste of Sunday football was a disappointment for the Foxes. Nottingham Forest midfielder Frans Thijssen hit a late winner, and City, despite goals from Robert Jones and Alan Smith, succumbed to a 3-2 defeat. 

It may not have been ‘super’ for Leicester on that occasion, but it was certainly a Sunday and there were certainly good times to come. 

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