Floodlights at Filbert Street

Foxes Firsts: Floodlights At Filbert Street

In a continuing series, Assistant Club Historian Elsie Flynn recounts occasions in the Club’s history when Leicester City experienced an event for the very first time. This week, she looks back to the use of floodlights at Filbert Street.
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The evening kick-off. On a rainy night. In the depths of winter. You wrap yourself with excessive layers and step out into the storm, ready to follow your team regardless. Watching City play under the hue of floodlights, though, provides a rarely-matched experience.

Nights at the old Filbert Street were famed for their atmosphere and, at King Power Stadium, either in cup contests or European competition, the Club's current home has earned an equally impressive reputation.

Some of the Club's most iconic matches of recent times have come under the lights. Securing a spot in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, beating Sevilla, comes to mind. Jamie Vardy's 11-heaven strike against Manchester United. They were both our reward for braving the elements. 

While we now couldn’t imagine a life without midweek matches under the lights, the Club spent 73 of its years submerged in darkness.

Before 1957, evening games at Filbert Street were scarce, and even the 3pm kick-offs in December were met with the troubling issue of the sun setting before the second half had even begun. 

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Floodlights at Filbert Street
Floodlights at Filbert Street

Over the years, Filbert Street hosted many truly memorable matches under floodlights.

In the summer of 1957, Leicester City spent £25,000 on erecting the first floodlights above Filbert Street. To help pay for these, several friendlies were organised against overseas opponents. Their official switch-on came in a friendly against the first of these, the German side Borussia Dortmund. 

The match, performed in front of a relatively small crowd of 18,398 fans, was perhaps a sign of the good times to come under the spotlight.

City were bright in their display and held the German champions at bay in the first half. In the second, they were far superior and a goal from Willie Gardiner sealed the victory for City. 

And if there was any argument surrounding the necessity of these lights, or any complaints about their worth, they were promptly silenced less than a month later. On 16 November, 1957, in a First Division encounter against Preston North End, Filbert Street was floodlit to combat poor visibility. 

A novel idea at the time, we couldn't imagine football without floodlights today. 

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