Larry May

Leicester City In 100 Players: Larry May

Club Historian John Hutchinson reviews the careers of 100 of the most outstanding players to represent Leicester Fosse and Leicester City in the Club’s 138-year history. We continue with Larry May, whose sterling performances at the heart of City’s defence made him a firm fans’ favourite.

Centre-back May’s 199 starts for Leicester between 1977 and 1983 were characterised by committed and skilful defensive displays. He was very strong in the air. He was a powerful tackler, who had pace. He enjoyed going up for corners and free kicks and he scored some key goals. 

Jimmy Bloomfield gave 18-year-old Larry his debut in a top flight match against Bristol City in March 1977. The following season, under new manager Frank McLintock, Larry’s progress was hindered by successive cartilage operations but his character and will power impressed Jock Wallace who became manager in June 1978.

In his first season, Wallace paired Larry with another young centre-back John O’Neill. These two became the bedrock of the City’s defence for the next five eventful years. Initially, in the 1978/79 season, Wallace’s side struggled as the young players he blooded, such as Gary Lineker, Dave Buchanan and Andy Peake, lacked the necessary experience. 

The following season though, Wallace’s side won the old Second Division title. Larry played in every game and scored four goals, His most famous and memorable goal was his winner in the last game of the season at Orient which clinched the title.

Back in the top-flight, the 1980/81 season began with high hopes. Unfortunately, the team was relegated. Nevertheless, Larry continued to be an effective defensive stalwart. The highlight of the season was the team’s famous double over Liverpool who went on to win the European Cup that season.

The May-O’Neill partnership continued into the next season when Leicester City reached the FA Cup Semi-Final against Tottenham Hotspur. During this run, Larry scored the winning goal at Hereford United. He also scored Leicester’s first goal in the famous ‘three goalkeeper’ 5-2 quarter-final victory against Shrewsbury Town.

At the end of the season, Jock Wallace controversially left the Club to be replaced by Gordon Milne. For most of the season which followed, (1982/83) Larry and John O’Neill were once again at the heart of the City defence as the team finished third, to win their place back in the top division. 

That was to be Larry’s last season at Filbert Street. Much to the fans’ surprise Gordon Milne sold him to Barnsley for £110,000 in the close season. He subsequently also played for Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton and Hove Albion. 

The fans were sorry to see Larry go. A firm fans’ favourite, Larry’s excellent performances at the heart of the City defence impressed all who saw him play.

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