TWIH: City's First League Cup Win

In the latest of his ‘The Week in History’ blogs, Club Historian John Hutchinson recalls Leicester City’s first successful Cup Final 49 years ago this week.

Forty nine years ago this week, seven of the Great Train Robbers were each sentenced to thirty years in prison. The day before, on 15  April 1964, Leicester City played Stoke City in the first leg of the League Cup Final at the Victoria Ground.  Davie Gibson’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw that evening laid the foundations for the following week’s victory in the second leg at Filbert Street which saw Leicester City win their first ever major trophy.

At the time, Leicester City were building up a formidable reputation as a Cup side. They had battled their way through to two FA Cup Finals in the previous three years, both of which had ended in defeat and disappointment.


At that time, the League Cup, in contrast to the well estasblished FA Cup, was very much in its infancy. It had only been inaugurated in 1960-61. When Leicester City won the League Cup 49 years ago, there had only been three previous winners, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Birmingham City.

For the first six years of its existence the final was contested over two legs before it was moved to Wembley in 1967. It was not until 1969-70, when winning the League Cup guaranteed entry into Europe, that all 92 League Clubs entered the competition.

Nevetheless, Leicester City took the competiton very seriously. After defeating Aldershot, Tranmere Rovers and Gillingham in the earlier rounds, Howard Riley’s extra-time winner against Norwich City ensured a semi-final two- legged tie against West Ham United side which included Bobby Moore,  Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst. City won this tie 6-3 on aggregate, excelling themselves in a magnificent second leg performance  at Upton Park which resulted in a 2-0 win, following the 4-3 thriller at Filbert Street.


The first leg of the 1964 final was a Wednesday evening fixture at Stoke City’s waterlogged Victoria Ground. Leicester City were lucky to escape with a draw. The Potteries side dominated 75% of the play. Leicester were on the defensive to such an extent that one press report noted that even the biggest sponge has its saturation point and that Leicester came close to this on several occasions. Stoke threw everything into attack in a way which was “cleverly controlled, boldly carried out and always attractive.”

Leicester’s defence emerged with great credit. Admittedly, Gordon Banks was perhaps at fault for Stoke’s goal. This was scored in the 62nd minute when a long low shot skidded off the waterlogged pitch and sqirmed out of Banks’ grasp. Stoke’s Keith Bebbington followed up and scored. Despite this, the England goalkeeper “made a dozen world class saves”. John Sjoberg and Ian King were dominant in Leicestrer’s defence and Graham Cross “trusted with the defensive role for which he had been asking could not have failed to impress the watching managers.” The efforts of outside-right Howard Riley in helping out the defence were described as being particularly outstanding.


Despite being on the back foot for most of the game, Leicester City equalised in the 78th minute. A Stoke clearance cannoned off Leicester City’s Terry Heath into Davie Gibson’s path who took his chance and scored.

This was the goal, 49 years ago this week, that set Leicester City up for their 3-2 victory at Filbert Street a week later when Mike Stringfellow, Davie Gibson (with a rare header) and Howard Riley scored the goals that won the Cup.

The Football League Secretary, Alan Hardaker was delighted with the game at Stoke. After the match he said, in a plug for the infant League Cup, “I hope some of the newspapers will now have something to say about the League Cup. This game was a smasher! Remember that it is footballers that make good or bad matches and not labels”.

The five hundred Leicester City fans who travelled to Stoke 49 years ago this weekend certainly agreed with this as did the 25000 fans who turned up at Filbet Street a week later to see skipper Colin Appleton lift the Cup following the victory at Filbert Street.

After the game, the victorious Leicester players were each presented with tankards rather than medals. Those belonging to Graham Cross and to Howard Riley are on display at King Power Stadium as a permanent reminder of the first of Leicester City’s three League Cup wins.

Several of the 1964 League Cup winning squad will be present at the next Heritage Afternoon on Sunday April 28 2013, at 2pm at King Power Stadium. At the time of writing, the players present will include Davie Gibson (who will be signing his new book ‘Gibbo’),  Frank McLintock, Gordon Banks, Richie Norman, Howard Riley, Mike Stringfellow and Bobby Roberts. There is also the distinct possibility of other players being present.

Tickets cost £15, with proceeds going to the LCFC Foxes Foundation.  Book your place by calling 0844 815 5000, by e-mailing or by buying online at

Photos:

01.       Programme for 1st leg at Stoke.

02.       Stringfellow’s goal in the second leg.

03.       Leicester skipper Colin Appleton receives League Cup.


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