One of the most significant managers in Leicester City’s long history was Scot Peter Hodge. He was the Club’s first manager after its reconstruction as Leicester City in 1919. In his first spell at Filbert Street he established the foundations for Leicester City’s halcyon days of the late 1920s. In his second spell, tragically cut short by his death, he did much to steer the Club away from some hard times.
Hodge came to Leicester in September 1919 with a very impressive record.
As Raith Rovers’ first secretary-manager between 1907 and 1912 he took them into the Scottish First Division, before he was ousted by Board Room politics. In his only season at Stoke City (1914/15), he won the Southern League’s Second Division.
From 1915 he was a war time Recruitment Officer in Kirkaldy. He also managed Raith Rovers again from 1916 to 1919, where one of his players was the future Leicester City legend Johnny Duncan.
At Leicester City Hodge had more say in team selection and tactical matters than his Fosse predecessors. A wonderful judge of a footballer as well as of character he gave the Club a name to be envied for its standard of play and good sportsmanship. His signings included some of the most famous names in Leicester City’s early history such as Adam Black, Johnny Duncan, Arthur Chandler, Hughie Adcock, Ernie Hine, Reg Osborne and Arthur Lochhead.
After just missing promotion on goal average in 1922/23, Leicester City were convincing Second Division Champions in 1925 with Duncan scoring 30 goals. However, at the end of Leicester City’s first season in the top flight, Hodge surprisingly became the manager of Manchester City who had just been relegated back to the Second Division.
Building on the foundations he had laid, Hodge’s Leicester City side went on to have their best ever seasons until 2016 when, under Willie Orr, they finished 3rd and 2nd in the First Division in 1928 and 1929.
Meanwhile, Hodge, in his first season at Maine Road, just missed out on promotion (by an inferior goal average to the third decimal place!), but his team were Second Division Champions in 1928 and finished 3rd in the top flight in 1929, one place behind his old Leicester City team.
In 1932, a five-year contract tempted Hodge back to Leicester. Hampered by financial constraints, he kept an ageing Leicester City in the First Division and reached the Club’s first ever FA semi-final in 1934.
In the close season, on a visit to Scotland, Peter, who had been suffering with pain from an internal complaint the previous season, became ill. Admitted to Perth hospital, where he continued to plan for the new season, he died on 18 August 1934.
People from far and wide attended his funeral in Perth. Six Leicester City players acted as pallbearers and, together with Directors, escorted the funeral cortege.
Fittingly, Peter’s obituary in the first programme of the 1934/35 season paid a fulsome tribute to the man who did much to establish Leicester City as a force in the land.
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