Links With The Past: City Ale Bottle
The label on the back states: ‘This strong ale was brewed by Ind Coope Ltd to celebrate the promotion of Leicester City Football Club to the First Division of the Football League’. It is dated 14 May, 1983 and is signed by Terry Shipman, who was the Club’s Chairman and Jim Race, the managing director of Ind Coope, East Midlands.
The date 14 May, 1983 was the last day of the season. On the back of an unbeaten run of 14 games, which had seen the Foxes make a late run for promotion, City, managed by Gordon Milne in his first at season at the Club, drew 0-0 against Burnley in front of a Filbert Street crowd of nearly 30,000. This would have secured promotion at Fulham’s expense, but the Cottagers lost at Derby County in controversial circumstances when the referee ended the game early because of crowd problems. Fortunately, a Football League enquiry upheld the Fulham result and City were back in the top flight.
Leicester’s squad that season included players such as Mark Wallington, Paul Ramsey, Kevin MacDonald, Larry May, John O’Neill, Steve Lynex, Gary Lineker and Alan Smith.
The signature of T. W. Shipman, Leicester's Chairman, was included on the bottle.
Another Alan Smith, who was Ind Coope’s marketing manager at the time, told us last week that the beer was brewed and bottled at the Burton brewery. The size of the bottle indicates that the beer, which is still inside the bottle, would have been a very strong barley wine known as ‘Triple A.’
Alan thinks the bottle, numbered 10, would probably have been one of a numbered run of 2,000 bottles, that being the quantity that Ind Coope tended to produce for this sort of commemorative product.
At the time this beer was produced, Ind Coope had just signed a two-year sponsorship deal (later extended to four years) with the Club for a considerable five-figure sum’.
This made Ind Coope the first-ever sponsors to appear on the Foxes’ home shirts, which themselves had a revolutionary new look. The blue shirts sported white vertical pin stripes and a completely new, now famous, running fox crest. The sponsorship also resulted in Ind Coope’s corporate colours of green and yellow becoming the colours of the away strip.
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