Football Fever

I daren’t even look to see how long it is since I last posted anything on this blog but I just wanted to let you know that I am still in the land of the living!

It’s been a bit of a strange time in my life recently (it’s felt like I’ve taken a few steps forward and about 27 back) and for some reason, much as I enjoy blogging, it often gets relegated to the bottom of the pile when there is a lot of other stuff going on.

As I type this, I can hear the cars tooting their way along the A47 Hinckley Road as Leicester City fans make their way back from the  “party in the park”.  This took place earlier today, along with an open-top bus tour through the city centre, to celebrate Leicester City football team’s amazing achievement of winning the premier League title/trophy for the first time in their 132 year history.

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Riyad Mahrez (a key player in Leicester winning the Premier League 2015/16) takes a free kick.  Photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford and Largs, UK

Even if you have no interest in football and are living on a remote island off the corner of Mars, you have probably heard this incredible story. “Little Leicester City” with its team of rejects and no-hopers took on the financial Goliaths of the Premier League and beat them at odds of 5000-1. Some are calling it the greatest sporting story ever and who am I to argue?

I’ve supported Leicester City for about 40 years now and although I’m delighted for the team, the manager and the fans, this story has also been tinged with sadness for me that my parents, who were lifelong  Leicester fans, are not here to witness this amazing event.  However, I’ve also felt extremely grateful to them that their passion for football and all things LCFC was passed onto me and has been such a source of pleasure (as well as some discomfort!) for a huge part of my life.

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Double Decker Stand at Filbert Street where I used to sit with my father watching Gary Lineker play for Leicester City. Photo credit: Samlcfc at English Wikipedia

When I read Ethel North’s letters to my grandmother, it took me by surprise how many references she makes to the Leicester City football team. She was obviously very interested in their progress and clearly knew that my maternal grandmother and grandfather also had great affection for them. Here are a couple of examples:

“So pleased to receive letter, but what on earth did you save the cutting for? Fancy telling me that and not even telling me the score or even telling me who scored? I wrote to Doris  but no answer and after 5 weeks that is your answer. Doesn’t matter. I’m in the heart of this country and “football” is a long way off.”

I have worked out from the dates that this probably refers to Leicester City losing 3-7 to Burnley in the first round of the FA Cup on 8 January 1921. It was written on a postcard that Ethel sent to my grandmother from Cordova, Spain.

“I am not going to write at length now but will write more fully after I’ve been in Madrid for a day or so. Will you please save me and send me a cutting out of the papers about Fulham and Leicester on Saturday. I shall not see a paper for three months except a miserable continental thing and I want to hear how the football goes on.”

I’m sure Ethel would have been pleased to eventually discover that Leicester City beat Fulham 2-0 on 28 January 1922 in the second round of the FA Cup.

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Johnny Duncan “an indelible Leicester City great” (1922-1930) seen here relaxing in Scotland. Photo credit: Jenny Blackhurst

I was also quite surprised to discover that Ethel enjoyed watching ice hockey, a very “unladylike” sport, which I also enjoyed (from the safety of the stands!) when I lived in Nottingham and regularly went to see the Nottingham Panthers play.

She discovers this affection for the sport during a trip to Canada with Lady Burghclere in February 1925:

“I have been each Saturday to see the crack teams play ice hockey. It is the national game here, taking the place of football and I do believe I am more thrilled over the former than the latter. The skill is amazing. Altogether I’m a very happy and extremely interested person.”

Ethel’s interest in football and even ice hockey seems to add to my view that she was quite a “character” in many ways as in those days, a woman interested in football and ice hockey would be quite unusual. Fast forward almost 100 years and I’m sure she would have been delighted to see the current football team achieve such an incredible feat and put her home town of Leicester very firmly on the world map.

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Leicester City are Champions of the Barclays Premier League May 7 2016. Photo credit: Jonathan Machlin

 

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