Belvoir Drive from the sky

Foxes Firsts: A Permanent Training Ground

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 a look at the Foxes' first training ground.
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The essence of the game is fundamentally the same today as it was back in the 1890s. Sure, the rules have tweaked over time but it is still two teams, 22 players, one result. 

The average footballer, however, is now unrecognisable from the typical professional back in the 20th century. Long gone are the days in which footballers were smokers and pub-goers. Instead, players have moulded into the protein-shake-drinkers and ice-bath-lovers we know today, with meticulously managed nutrition programmes. 

The modern game calls for peak fitness. The Club’s new world-class training facility epitomises how crucial this is to the success of the team. 

LCFC Training Ground in Seagrave boats a customised gym and hydrotherapy facilities, 21 playing surfaces – including 14 full-size pitches – and a 499-seater, floodlit show pitch. 

It’s a far cry from the training sessions conducted in the early 1960s, in which players would often train on Filbert Street’s car park. Or on the pitch, if the groundsman let them. Sometimes sessions would be at Saffron Lane Sports Ground. Or, if the weather turned, they’d meander down to Granby Halls. 

While the location was uncertain, it was a guarantee that there would be no customised gym or hydrotherapy facility in sight. Instead, training exercises would compromise of running up and down the terraces or sit-ups on a mat. Equipment was either basic or non-existent. 

But in 1963, Leicester City made a giant stride into the modern game. They invested £17,000 – around £364,000 in today’s value – in the purchase of the ‘Belvoir Drive Sports Ground’. A space that, while only little over three kilometres down the road from Filbert Street, felt a million miles away from the days spent on a car park. 

It would take years to build the state-of-the-art Belvoir Drive we know today. To begin with, players would have to jog back to Filbert Street at the end of a training session to shower. The pitch, while grass, was lopsided on one side.

But it was a start, a 'home from home', and Matt Gillies upon the purchase spoke of the 'unlimited possibilities' it would open for the Club. 

That it did. Belvoir Drive’s facilities helped craft the football we love to watch today. Now, with the men’s move over to Seagrave, the training ground hosts LCFC Women; and it’s their time to dream of the possibilities it could bring.

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