Jimmy Bloomfield, 1971-1977
All of these seasons were in the ‘old’ First Division. Only Peter Hodge and Matt Gillies held the manager’s post at Filbert Street for longer and only Gillies managed Leicester City for more seasons in the top division.
Bloomfield was Leicester’s 12th manager since the Club had been re-formed in 1919. Aged only 38, he was a classic example of a young tracksuit manager. He was also the first Leicester City manager from the south of England, following a succession of Scots, north countrymen and the Irishman Frank O’Farrell.
Jimmy Bloomfield's Leicester City beat Bill Shankly's Liverpool in his first ever game as manager of the Foxes.
He came to Leicester with an excellent footballing reputation as a skilful inside-forward. After two years at Brentford as a youngster, under the great Tommy Lawton, he spent over six years at Arsenal where he flourished under the coaching of future England manager Ron Greenwood. His time at Arsenal included an unbroken run of 115 league games out of a total of 227 appearances, and a spell as captain. He then played for Birmingham City, Brentford again, West Ham United and finally Plymouth Argyle before becoming Orient’s player manager in 1968. In 1969/70, he guided Orient to the Third Division title.
A Londoner himself, Jimmy brought several big-fee, high profile players to Filbert Street from the capital. These included Jon Sammels and Jeff Blockley (from Arsenal), Keith Weller, Steve Kember and Chris Garland (from Chelsea), Alan Birchenall (from Crystal Palace) Dennis Rofe (from Orient) and Steve Earle (from Fulham).
Together with players like Peter Shilton, Frank Worthington and Steve Whitworth, who along with Weller, all won England caps during Jimmy’s time at Leicester City, these players formed the nucleus of one of the most attractive and entertaining sides in the Club’s history.
Leicester City 1973/74
Renowned coach Malcolm Allison described Leicester City’s attacking performance as the best he had ever see under Jimmy Bloomfield.
After beating Bill Shankly’s Liverpool 1-0 to win the Charity (Community) Shield in his very first game as Leicester City’s manager in August 1971, Bloomfield’s Leicester City went on to achieve two top 10 finishes in the ‘old’ First Division, (ninth in 1973/74 and seventh in 1975/76). Leicester also reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1974 before being knocked out by Liverpool in a replay at Villa Park. This run included overwhelming Luton 4-0 at Kenilworth Road. The renowned coach Malcolm Allison described Leicester City’s attacking performance as the best he had ever seen. It led to Bloomfield’s team being compared to Brazil!
By 1977, tensions had been building between Jimmy and elements of the board and sections of the crowd. Despite finishing the season in 11th place in the ‘old’ First Division, Jimmy resigned in July 1977. He returned to manage Orient in 1977, taking them to an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal. However, with his health deteriorating, he left Orient in 1981. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1983 at the young age of 49.
However, his legacy lives on. Bloomfield’s reputation as a Leicester City manager who loved and encouraged skilful, creative and entertaining football remains intact to this day.
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