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The collapse of the Leicester dream The city's decline now feels endemic

'This little city — known all over the world.' (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

'This little city — known all over the world.' (Michael Regan/Getty Images)


May 30, 2023   5 mins

On 2 May 2016, in a bad-tempered game that became known as the Battle of the Bridge, Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw by Chelsea. As the final whistle sounded, a city more than 100 miles away started to celebrate: the result confirmed Leicester, 5000-1 at the start of the season, as the most improbable league champions in English history.

To cap it off, 13 minutes after the final whistle, Mark Selby, “the Jester from Leicester”, won the World Snooker Championship for the second time. Both Selby and the Foxes had followed in the footsteps of Leicester Tigers, who secured their eighth Rugby Union Premiership three years previously, and Leicestershire County Cricket Club, who won their third T20 Cup in 2011. Leicester, it seemed, was the centre of the sporting world.

In the years since, however, the cricket team has not won anything, while the Tigers only won the Premiership again in 2022 after a long drought. Although Selby, recovering from a run of poor form related to his depression, reached the final of the World Snooker Championship again this month, he lost to the Belgian Luca Brecel. Then, on Sunday, came the greatest disappointment of all, as Leicester City were relegated from the Premier League. Seven years after that glorious Bank Holiday Monday, the city’s decline has started to feel endemic. How did it come to this?

There used to be a bar at Leicester station — or rather, a counter selling pasties and sandwiches that also sold cans of lager and had a small room next to it, fitted out with perhaps half a dozen small tables. Having written their match reports, London-based journalists would meet there before getting the train home. Its walls were a celebration of great Leicester personalities: not just David Attenborough and Gary Lineker, but Willie Thorne, Engelbert Humperdinck, Kate O’Mara, Showaddywaddy


The bar disappeared years ago and, on the day Leicester lifted the league title, its absence was unnerving but also, it seemed, rather fitting. Andrea Bocelli sang on the pitch before kick-off as the grimy traditions of its former stadium Filbert Street yielded to the slightly antiseptic surrounds of the King Power: here, the fans are obsessed, in a way no other club’s are, by those weird cardboard clappers, as though they suddenly felt banging their hands together was not quite the modern thing. It was better than what had gone before but just as surely something had been lost. If that bar still existed, Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Wes Morgan, the heroes of 2015-16, would surely take pride of place.

A Champions League quarter-final followed, then two fifth-place finishes and, in 2021, a first ever FA Cup success. Even last season, widely seen as a disappointment, Leicester finished eighth. But did Leicester itself ever seem like a city on the up? Perhaps sport casts an illusory glow. Perhaps too much was read into the discovery of Richard III under a car park in the city a decade ago, but it served to underline the impression of Leicester as a place where exciting things were happening, even if 40% of the city’s population reside in the most deprived 20% of areas in the country.

That illusion, though, was firmly punctured during the pandemic, when Leicester became the first British city to lock down following a spike that was largely blamed on Dickensian conditions in textile factories — a Sunday Times investigation later uncovered a string of sweatshops where workers were paid just £3.50 an hour. “Leicester endured the longest, most crippling lockdown of anyone in the UK,” says Lee Marlow, a Leicester fan and lecturer at De Montfort University. “You can see the effect of that in the city today. Empty shops, streets that have seen better days. Businesses, pubs, restaurants that clung on but never recovered.”

Then, in late summer last year, Leicester endured a month of unrest between predominantly British-Pakistani Muslims and predominantly British-Indian Hindus, seemingly sparked by celebrations of India’s cricketing victory over Pakistan in the Asia Cup; football is not the only sport to offer an emotionally fraught manifestation of identity. Over the following month, there were a number of outbreaks of violence and 47 arrests. While investigations agreed social media agitators bore the bulk of the responsibility, the Delhi-based Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights blamed “ethnic enclaves” within Leicester. If there had been any naive sense of the city as a place of harmonious immigration, it disappeared then.

Yet tragedy had already interrupted the Leicester City story, when a helicopter carrying the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, crashed in October 2018, killing all on board. His son, Aiyawatt or “Top”, succeeded him as chairman of both Leicester City and King Power, the Thai retail group, his inheritance making him one of Asia’s five youngest billionaires. But King Power’s main business is duty-free shops in airports, and it was hit hard by the pandemic. This not merely restricted spending on players, but also reportedly made the owners reluctant to sack their manager Brendan Rodgers earlier this season despite the stagnation that infected the locker room.

What will happen next? Well, just as Leicester City’s success boosted the local economy, with EY putting its value at £140m, so relegation will damage it. Leicester’s games will no longer be broadcast worldwide; the city will slowly lose its name recognition. Less prestigious games mean fewer fans and lower footfall on matchdays for the city’s restaurants, shops and pubs.

But there is also something less tangible. Often, especially now that industry is disappearing, the football club is the most visible emblem of a town or city. I remember the pang of pride I felt as a native Wearsider when, walking through Addis Ababa to find Sylvia Pankhurst’s grave, I came unexpectedly upon an ancient ship’s anchor bearing the legend, “Made in Sunderland”. Work in the shipyards, obviously, was brutally tough, but what a feeling it must have been to send a vessel out into the world knowing it might be spotted in Melbourne or Buenos Aires or Tokyo — or even, inexplicably, 500 miles from the sea on Ethiopia’s central plateau. How is Sunderland projected now? Almost entirely through football. That’s why when clubs from the great provincial cities reach Wembley finals, at least those not wearied by familiarity, they habitually take over Trafalgar Square: it’s not just a celebration of self, but also a reminder to the capital that, however run down they may be, however peripheral they may feel, they are still there.

Leicester, for their part, have done something extraordinary. They didn’t just get to a Cup final: they were the most surprising league champions in English history. Their legend will linger. If any outsider wins it again, it is against Leicester that they will be measured. “In April 2016,” says Paul Simpson, a Leicester fan and founder of FourFourTwo magazine, “most supporters I knew agreed on one thing: as long as we won the Premier League we wouldn’t mind if we ended up playing non-league football in 10 years’ time. We did better than that. As devastating as this relegation is, it is, in part, a reversion to normality. This doesn’t excuse the many bad decisions made this season but it does put this season into perspective. The city will absorb the blow because it is business as usual — this is our eighth relegation in the past 50 years.”

Supporting a club, especially one below the elite level, is often frustrating. Disappointment is the default. Success can bring ecstasy but, even then, there can be a sense of taking out an emotional mortgage that will take a lifetime to pay off. But all of that is less important than football’s function as a projection of identity, perhaps especially for cities struggling with a sense of declining prestige. Go to Melbourne or Buenos Aires or Tokyo and ask what they know of Leicester, and some may talk of Attenborough or Kasabian or perhaps Joe Orton or Julian Barnes. But most, if they know the city, will know it through Vardy, Mahrez and Morgan. That’s why football matters.

“We’ve not had it easy of late,” says Marlow, “but there have been worse times. We’ll be back. We’ll dust ourselves down. What do they say? One day you’re drinking the wine, the next you’re treading the grapes. We’ll do a bit of that. And they’ll never be able to take it away from us, will they? The Premier League. The FA Cup. The King in a car park. This little city — known all over the world.”


Jonathan Wilson is a columnist for the Guardian, the editor of the Blizzard, the co-host of the podcast It Was What It Was and author of 12 books on football history and one novel.

jonawils

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Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago

Quick question:
Leicester have won as many league titles in the past decade as Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal, Man U combined.
How many top notch players were Leicester able to buy post 2016 compared to those clubs, or transferred to Leicester from those other “big” clubs (versus Leicester players snapped up by their rivals)?

“seemingly sparked by celebrations of India’s cricketing victory over Pakistan”
That little phrase actually tells a lot about the rest of the story.
Keep in mind, any distaste by sane minded people for the religion of peace is never “sparked” by mass grooming gangs, terror attacks, adherence to a backward cult. It’s never the muslims fault, always a “phobia” or “racist”

But when peaceful Indian Hindus, the group with the highest education levels, lowest crime levels in UK, gets terrorised by gangs of muslims, it’s because the poor dear islamics were “provoked” by those awful Indians, and you do your best to pretend it was two sides to the story rather than that one group doing what it does best.

And that captures the essence of Britain today.
A Britain that cares more about not being “racist” than victims of ethnic violence or grooming gangs, that cares more about following lockdown dictates than the actual well being of people in Leicester, or more about some conflict in Ukraine than mass illegal immigrants pouring into Britain everyday.

And that shows on the football field.
It’s all about the hilariously misnamed FFP, protection of the few “elite” clubs who rigged the game for their benefit in 1992, TV money….
Meanwhile, a club like Leicester wins the league fair and square…only to see their squad ripped apart rather than strengthening their squad and going on to challenge.
And no one cares, that losers like ManU Arsenal and Spurs can rely on a rigged football financial system to keep hoovering up the best players (while whining about how “unfair” it is to compete against Man City), while a well run club like Leicester slowly sinks.

Last edited 1 year ago by Samir Iker
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Hear hear!

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Some excellent observations in this comment, particularly in your middle paragraphs. Thank you.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Hear hear!

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Some excellent observations in this comment, particularly in your middle paragraphs. Thank you.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago

Quick question:
Leicester have won as many league titles in the past decade as Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal, Man U combined.
How many top notch players were Leicester able to buy post 2016 compared to those clubs, or transferred to Leicester from those other “big” clubs (versus Leicester players snapped up by their rivals)?

“seemingly sparked by celebrations of India’s cricketing victory over Pakistan”
That little phrase actually tells a lot about the rest of the story.
Keep in mind, any distaste by sane minded people for the religion of peace is never “sparked” by mass grooming gangs, terror attacks, adherence to a backward cult. It’s never the muslims fault, always a “phobia” or “racist”

But when peaceful Indian Hindus, the group with the highest education levels, lowest crime levels in UK, gets terrorised by gangs of muslims, it’s because the poor dear islamics were “provoked” by those awful Indians, and you do your best to pretend it was two sides to the story rather than that one group doing what it does best.

And that captures the essence of Britain today.
A Britain that cares more about not being “racist” than victims of ethnic violence or grooming gangs, that cares more about following lockdown dictates than the actual well being of people in Leicester, or more about some conflict in Ukraine than mass illegal immigrants pouring into Britain everyday.

And that shows on the football field.
It’s all about the hilariously misnamed FFP, protection of the few “elite” clubs who rigged the game for their benefit in 1992, TV money….
Meanwhile, a club like Leicester wins the league fair and square…only to see their squad ripped apart rather than strengthening their squad and going on to challenge.
And no one cares, that losers like ManU Arsenal and Spurs can rely on a rigged football financial system to keep hoovering up the best players (while whining about how “unfair” it is to compete against Man City), while a well run club like Leicester slowly sinks.

Last edited 1 year ago by Samir Iker
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

The article fails to mention “one of the great days in the history of Islam and Great Britain” that occurred in Leicester, according to Leicester East’s then-MP, Labour’s Keith Vaz. Vaz led a demonstration in favour of the Ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie through the streets of Leicester.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago

Yes indeed! Anyone remember the short lived and gloriously crude cartoon series which Private Eye ran in honour of the Great Man? “Creepy Keith – he talks through his backside”?

brian knott
brian knott
1 year ago

How dare you defame Washing Machine Repairman Jim.
His devotion to European friendship was legendary.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago

In the early 1970s my father went for a job interview (headmastership) at a school in Leicester – he told us later that he was pleased not to get offered it, because when he arrived the car park was covered in broken glass. Nobody cared enough to clear it up and make the car park usable. The idea that a brief sojourn by a local football club near the top of the football ladder has changed that mentality is a pretty empty one in my estimation. Your example is another which contradicts the idea that Leicester had changed for the better because of football.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago

Yes indeed! Anyone remember the short lived and gloriously crude cartoon series which Private Eye ran in honour of the Great Man? “Creepy Keith – he talks through his backside”?

brian knott
brian knott
1 year ago

How dare you defame Washing Machine Repairman Jim.
His devotion to European friendship was legendary.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago

In the early 1970s my father went for a job interview (headmastership) at a school in Leicester – he told us later that he was pleased not to get offered it, because when he arrived the car park was covered in broken glass. Nobody cared enough to clear it up and make the car park usable. The idea that a brief sojourn by a local football club near the top of the football ladder has changed that mentality is a pretty empty one in my estimation. Your example is another which contradicts the idea that Leicester had changed for the better because of football.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

The article fails to mention “one of the great days in the history of Islam and Great Britain” that occurred in Leicester, according to Leicester East’s then-MP, Labour’s Keith Vaz. Vaz led a demonstration in favour of the Ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie through the streets of Leicester.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Nick Gordon
Nick Gordon
1 year ago

“In the years since, however, neither the rugby nor cricket sides have won anything. “.

Leicester Tigers won the Rugby Premiership last year, beating Saracens 15 – 12 in the final. They made it to the semi finals this year, not bad considering they lost their manager to England mid way through the season.

Carlos Ciccaballs
Carlos Ciccaballs
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Gordon

Was about to make this point. Kind of a big oversight given the dramatic way the Tigers won the Premiership last year! I suppose it doesn’t fit the narrative but can’t believe that it was allowed to slip through!

Carlos Ciccaballs
Carlos Ciccaballs
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Gordon

Was about to make this point. Kind of a big oversight given the dramatic way the Tigers won the Premiership last year! I suppose it doesn’t fit the narrative but can’t believe that it was allowed to slip through!

Nick Gordon
Nick Gordon
1 year ago

“In the years since, however, neither the rugby nor cricket sides have won anything. “.

Leicester Tigers won the Rugby Premiership last year, beating Saracens 15 – 12 in the final. They made it to the semi finals this year, not bad considering they lost their manager to England mid way through the season.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Lockdown. And Leicestershire MP Neil O’Brien, among many others (though few so stridently), was baying for more of it.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Lockdown. And Leicestershire MP Neil O’Brien, among many others (though few so stridently), was baying for more of it.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago

On the plus side we have the unbelievable story of Luton effectively replacing Leicester after their incredible journey from almost oblivion. Come on you Hatters!!

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Much bigger story. Luton for years has been an avatar for civic disgrace (lots of worst town polls etc.). Premiership football could be a once in a generation chance to change perceptions and deliver badly needed rejuvination. Still, shame it had to be a team in the London orbit rather than a properly provincial town/city. The Premiership comes with huge investment but I wouldn’t be suprised if Luton (as in the local government) fluff their lines.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I lived there for a short spell; Luton is very downmarket and covered in concrete, and certainly lacks any kind of elegance. What is does have however is a very big population and the potential for a huge fan base. It is also extremely well connected by the M1, rail network and airport. It’s the perfect place for a football club to thrive. Next step is to get that stadium built, and the rest will follow.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think Luton’s got some potential – it doesn’t look much today, but has some old parks and nice countryside quite close. And a bit of history. In some ways similar to Leicester. Someone a long time ago described Luton as a “Midlands industrial town stranded in the south east”.
I’m thrilled Luton bounced back from the EFL’s crazy attempt to kill them off with a 30 point deduction all those years ago. That’s modern Britain for you – the “punishment” for a business error is made not on the business but on the football field.
[I’d also have been thrilled if Coventry City has won instead. Another long-suffering club who deserve a break.]

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Luton certainly has some good reasons to visit it, especially that museum which allegedly has the largest collection of horse drawn vehicles in the world. Admittedly I had the jets from the Airport roaring low overhead, so I could study old and new modes of travel at the same time.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Luton certainly has some good reasons to visit it, especially that museum which allegedly has the largest collection of horse drawn vehicles in the world. Admittedly I had the jets from the Airport roaring low overhead, so I could study old and new modes of travel at the same time.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think Luton’s got some potential – it doesn’t look much today, but has some old parks and nice countryside quite close. And a bit of history. In some ways similar to Leicester. Someone a long time ago described Luton as a “Midlands industrial town stranded in the south east”.
I’m thrilled Luton bounced back from the EFL’s crazy attempt to kill them off with a 30 point deduction all those years ago. That’s modern Britain for you – the “punishment” for a business error is made not on the business but on the football field.
[I’d also have been thrilled if Coventry City has won instead. Another long-suffering club who deserve a break.]

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Football isn’t going to change the mentality of the people living there, of of the local council. It won’t change the place. This idea is as bad as Marx, “opium for the masses”.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I lived there for a short spell; Luton is very downmarket and covered in concrete, and certainly lacks any kind of elegance. What is does have however is a very big population and the potential for a huge fan base. It is also extremely well connected by the M1, rail network and airport. It’s the perfect place for a football club to thrive. Next step is to get that stadium built, and the rest will follow.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Football isn’t going to change the mentality of the people living there, of of the local council. It won’t change the place. This idea is as bad as Marx, “opium for the masses”.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Much bigger story. Luton for years has been an avatar for civic disgrace (lots of worst town polls etc.). Premiership football could be a once in a generation chance to change perceptions and deliver badly needed rejuvination. Still, shame it had to be a team in the London orbit rather than a properly provincial town/city. The Premiership comes with huge investment but I wouldn’t be suprised if Luton (as in the local government) fluff their lines.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago

On the plus side we have the unbelievable story of Luton effectively replacing Leicester after their incredible journey from almost oblivion. Come on you Hatters!!

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago

I kind of echo Paul Simpson’s sentiment. I barrack for a football club (Melbourne) that had not won the Premiership for 57 years. Many of those seasons were abject embarrassments, or illusory lights at the end of the tunnel, or better than average but cruelly snuffed out by bad luck, lack of skill, poor decision making and/or combinations thereof; we’re lucky there is no relegation. I’d given up hoping we could ever win the flag, and had concede that my comfort zone was mid-table mediocrity, and convinced myself that the entirely rational reason was because we had been cursed by a malevolent football witch or warlock (or witlock, if you will). And then in 2021, seemingly out of the blue, we won the Premiership with such an extraordinary performance in the Grand Final that if we don’t win a flag for another 57 years, and as we edge back down the ladder, at least I have seen one Premiership.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

I love the Australian use of the phrase “barrack for”. I think it would be better for supporters to be called “barrackers” (as in the Collingwood song) than “fans” – as in fanatics. It lends a more detached and responsible air to support for a team. Any non-antipodeian who hasn’t watched AFL I heartily recommend doing so – though you will need a seasoned eye to talk you through.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

I love the Australian use of the phrase “barrack for”. I think it would be better for supporters to be called “barrackers” (as in the Collingwood song) than “fans” – as in fanatics. It lends a more detached and responsible air to support for a team. Any non-antipodeian who hasn’t watched AFL I heartily recommend doing so – though you will need a seasoned eye to talk you through.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago

I kind of echo Paul Simpson’s sentiment. I barrack for a football club (Melbourne) that had not won the Premiership for 57 years. Many of those seasons were abject embarrassments, or illusory lights at the end of the tunnel, or better than average but cruelly snuffed out by bad luck, lack of skill, poor decision making and/or combinations thereof; we’re lucky there is no relegation. I’d given up hoping we could ever win the flag, and had concede that my comfort zone was mid-table mediocrity, and convinced myself that the entirely rational reason was because we had been cursed by a malevolent football witch or warlock (or witlock, if you will). And then in 2021, seemingly out of the blue, we won the Premiership with such an extraordinary performance in the Grand Final that if we don’t win a flag for another 57 years, and as we edge back down the ladder, at least I have seen one Premiership.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

It’s the rarity of winning trophies that makes “real” football fans care so much.
Some of the traditional long-term Manchester City fans will tire of their (hyper funded) success if they just keep winning.
As their previous “hope” turns to “expectation” the magic will dissolve 
.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Barton
Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

City fan since 1982. Not bored yet thanks.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Good

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Give it time

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I am a City fan who was complaining earlier in the season that City were not playing the beautiful football of previous seasons with Haaland in the side.Obviously Pep knew what he was doing and they have been fantastic in the CL but no team has ever won the premier league/old division 1 4 seasons in a row or 6/7 so it will not be a suprise to me if City fail next season to win premier league although as long as Pep stays would expect City to make the top4 every season

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Good

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Give it time

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I am a City fan who was complaining earlier in the season that City were not playing the beautiful football of previous seasons with Haaland in the side.Obviously Pep knew what he was doing and they have been fantastic in the CL but no team has ever won the premier league/old division 1 4 seasons in a row or 6/7 so it will not be a suprise to me if City fail next season to win premier league although as long as Pep stays would expect City to make the top4 every season

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I don’t think so. Not the real long term fans. They went decades in the wilderness. Only 24 years ago they were in the old third division. But still getting 30,000 attendances at Maine Road (and brought 5000 fans to an away match at Reading). Not a Man City supporter, but those fans never stopped caring.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I was at the Reading v Man City match in 1998. The City fans were singing (to the tune of Guantanamera) “You’re going down with Pompey, down with the Pompey…”. It was Reading and Man City that were relegated, Portsmouth stayed up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

I missed that match – was that at Elm Park ? I was at the 1999 match where we got thumped 3-1 by City in our new stadium (something about building a new stadium seems to bring on relegation). “Twenty thousand to be precise – to record the Madejski Stadium’s highest ever attendance, without doubt the largest gate receipts in the history of the club, and the biggest crowd to watch the Royals at home for decades. Before the game kicked off, predictably 30 minutes late, the atmopshere was amazing with the whole East Stand in fine voice, and the away end sold out. All of this was too perfect. It had to go wrong, and so it did.”
Can’t believe it – apparently our record against City is level – W6 D1 L6:
https://www.royals.org/history/Man%20City
Whereas we’re 0/0/10 against Arsenal !

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes, Elm Park. I went to quite a few matches in the ’90s, a good atmosphere. Never got to see the Royals at the Madejski but did watch London Irish there a couple of times before they folded.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The 1998 game must have been one of the last big events at Elm Park. The old stadium was still standing in May 1998 when I moved to Michigan. I returned to Reading in July 2000 and the site was covered by high density housing.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes, Elm Park. I went to quite a few matches in the ’90s, a good atmosphere. Never got to see the Royals at the Madejski but did watch London Irish there a couple of times before they folded.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The 1998 game must have been one of the last big events at Elm Park. The old stadium was still standing in May 1998 when I moved to Michigan. I returned to Reading in July 2000 and the site was covered by high density housing.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

I missed that match – was that at Elm Park ? I was at the 1999 match where we got thumped 3-1 by City in our new stadium (something about building a new stadium seems to bring on relegation). “Twenty thousand to be precise – to record the Madejski Stadium’s highest ever attendance, without doubt the largest gate receipts in the history of the club, and the biggest crowd to watch the Royals at home for decades. Before the game kicked off, predictably 30 minutes late, the atmopshere was amazing with the whole East Stand in fine voice, and the away end sold out. All of this was too perfect. It had to go wrong, and so it did.”
Can’t believe it – apparently our record against City is level – W6 D1 L6:
https://www.royals.org/history/Man%20City
Whereas we’re 0/0/10 against Arsenal !

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I was at the Reading v Man City match in 1998. The City fans were singing (to the tune of Guantanamera) “You’re going down with Pompey, down with the Pompey…”. It was Reading and Man City that were relegated, Portsmouth stayed up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Very true. Anyone who lives in one of the north-western footballing towns outside the city of Manchester will understand how the two Manchester clubs suck “support” and the lifeblood out of their local teams by enticing “glory hunters”.
On the same note, sad to see Rochdale relegated from the football league after a stay of 102 years, with all the odds stacked against them and winning nothing. (Three promotions in all that time, but never as Champions of their division.) They might make it back into the EFL but unlike Luton for instance, have no history of competing in the top two divisions and a much smaller fanbase.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Equally sad that Jeff Stelling (of Sky Sports) won’t be around to mention them 


Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Equally sad that Jeff Stelling (of Sky Sports) won’t be around to mention them 


Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Just like nobody cared about human rights when Arab countries bought billions of deadly weapons, acquired banks and prime real estate in Britain, or their dictators got to meet the Queen or business leaders, but their stance on gays suddenly became very crucial when they bought into Man City.

Similarly, nobody cared about “real” fans or the “hollowness” of spending money to buy players when it was the cartel clubs hoovering up all the trophies.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I’m still waiting to see someone fail the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons test”. It’s certainly been stress-tested. But they’ve all passed !
Half the Premier League shirt sponsorship by betting companies. Because money laundering ones don’t want the publicity.
Meanwhile, teams like Luton got deducted 30 points (10 or more years ago) for running into business difficulties. Always the way with financial criminals in this country, isn’t it ?

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I’m still waiting to see someone fail the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons test”. It’s certainly been stress-tested. But they’ve all passed !
Half the Premier League shirt sponsorship by betting companies. Because money laundering ones don’t want the publicity.
Meanwhile, teams like Luton got deducted 30 points (10 or more years ago) for running into business difficulties. Always the way with financial criminals in this country, isn’t it ?

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Neil Adshead
Neil Adshead
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I’ve been watching City since 1975 and will be at Wembley on Saturday and in Istanbul next Saturday. Winning never gets old. If it does for a football fan, go find another pastime 
.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

City fan since 1982. Not bored yet thanks.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I don’t think so. Not the real long term fans. They went decades in the wilderness. Only 24 years ago they were in the old third division. But still getting 30,000 attendances at Maine Road (and brought 5000 fans to an away match at Reading). Not a Man City supporter, but those fans never stopped caring.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Very true. Anyone who lives in one of the north-western footballing towns outside the city of Manchester will understand how the two Manchester clubs suck “support” and the lifeblood out of their local teams by enticing “glory hunters”.
On the same note, sad to see Rochdale relegated from the football league after a stay of 102 years, with all the odds stacked against them and winning nothing. (Three promotions in all that time, but never as Champions of their division.) They might make it back into the EFL but unlike Luton for instance, have no history of competing in the top two divisions and a much smaller fanbase.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Just like nobody cared about human rights when Arab countries bought billions of deadly weapons, acquired banks and prime real estate in Britain, or their dictators got to meet the Queen or business leaders, but their stance on gays suddenly became very crucial when they bought into Man City.

Similarly, nobody cared about “real” fans or the “hollowness” of spending money to buy players when it was the cartel clubs hoovering up all the trophies.

Neil Adshead
Neil Adshead
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I’ve been watching City since 1975 and will be at Wembley on Saturday and in Istanbul next Saturday. Winning never gets old. If it does for a football fan, go find another pastime 
.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

It’s the rarity of winning trophies that makes “real” football fans care so much.
Some of the traditional long-term Manchester City fans will tire of their (hyper funded) success if they just keep winning.
As their previous “hope” turns to “expectation” the magic will dissolve 
.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Barton
Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago

Having been born in Leicester and lived here for all but seven years of my life and also having been a regular attendee at LCFC matches since 1964, I find ths attempt at linking City’s relegation to some supposed decline in Leicester itself risible.My guess is that with a few well chosen examples, the same could be written about every city or town with a Premier League team were they to get relegated. Ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit your point of view seems to be the essence of journalism these days not to mention BTL comments on Unherd!.
Sporting wise the Tigers are on the up and what about Leicester Riders, a serial title winning basketball team. As regards LCFC, the owners did a brilliant job for many years, buying players cheap and then selling them on to the bigger clubs. They have just made a few bad mistakes over the last couple of years. Allowing players to run down their contracts, poor recruitment in terms of improving the squad and hanging on to a manager who had lost the plot towards the end of the previous season.
However my main objection is to the comment below
“If there had been any naive sense of the city as a place of harmonious immigration, it disappeared then.”
There was nothing naive about it. Leicester has had an excellent and well deserved reputation as a multi-cultural City for many years with annual Caribbean carnivals, Hindu and Muslim celebrations, all going on with no serious incidents. I also take issue with the typical BTL comments that always blame the Muslim community (e.g. Samir Iker). There is going to be an enquiry into last summer’s violence and it might be best to await the outcome of that before jumping to conclusions. The local community leaders that I know through my voluntary work are determined to sort this out and return to the peaceful co-existence that has been the norm.
My own take on it for what it’s worth is that there are probably more disaffected youth post Covid and the ratcheting up of tensions between Hindus and Muslims back in India by Modi and his thuggish government no doubt contributed.

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Burrell
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

“Thuggish” what an apposite word!

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

To read the article and comments, you would never know that DNA fingerprinting was invented at Leicester University. Of course, that was used to confirm the identity of Richard III, apart from transforming police investigations around the world. The Space Museum is another reason to visit the city. There are numerous ways to improve a city’s reputation and economy.

https://le.ac.uk/dna-fingerprinting

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

“Thuggish” what an apposite word!

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

To read the article and comments, you would never know that DNA fingerprinting was invented at Leicester University. Of course, that was used to confirm the identity of Richard III, apart from transforming police investigations around the world. The Space Museum is another reason to visit the city. There are numerous ways to improve a city’s reputation and economy.

https://le.ac.uk/dna-fingerprinting

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago

Having been born in Leicester and lived here for all but seven years of my life and also having been a regular attendee at LCFC matches since 1964, I find ths attempt at linking City’s relegation to some supposed decline in Leicester itself risible.My guess is that with a few well chosen examples, the same could be written about every city or town with a Premier League team were they to get relegated. Ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit your point of view seems to be the essence of journalism these days not to mention BTL comments on Unherd!.
Sporting wise the Tigers are on the up and what about Leicester Riders, a serial title winning basketball team. As regards LCFC, the owners did a brilliant job for many years, buying players cheap and then selling them on to the bigger clubs. They have just made a few bad mistakes over the last couple of years. Allowing players to run down their contracts, poor recruitment in terms of improving the squad and hanging on to a manager who had lost the plot towards the end of the previous season.
However my main objection is to the comment below
“If there had been any naive sense of the city as a place of harmonious immigration, it disappeared then.”
There was nothing naive about it. Leicester has had an excellent and well deserved reputation as a multi-cultural City for many years with annual Caribbean carnivals, Hindu and Muslim celebrations, all going on with no serious incidents. I also take issue with the typical BTL comments that always blame the Muslim community (e.g. Samir Iker). There is going to be an enquiry into last summer’s violence and it might be best to await the outcome of that before jumping to conclusions. The local community leaders that I know through my voluntary work are determined to sort this out and return to the peaceful co-existence that has been the norm.
My own take on it for what it’s worth is that there are probably more disaffected youth post Covid and the ratcheting up of tensions between Hindus and Muslims back in India by Modi and his thuggish government no doubt contributed.

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Burrell
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

I am pleased that the article mentioned (eventually and in passing) my favourite comic playwright, Leicester-born Joe Orton. But how could an article list famous Leicesterians and omit my favourite comic novelist, Sue Townsend?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

or Joss Hanbury legendary Quorn Master?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Didn’t Hanbury come a cropper recently over some COVID nonsense?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

don’t know: sadly I haven’t ridden to their Hounds for 7 long years!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

don’t know: sadly I haven’t ridden to their Hounds for 7 long years!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Didn’t Hanbury come a cropper recently over some COVID nonsense?

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
1 year ago

And Julian Barnes, Graham Chapman, Gok Wan, Parminder Nagra John Deacon, and last but not least, Joseph Merrick otherwise known as ‘The Elephant man.’ I believe also ‘The Flashman Papers edited by George McDonald Fraser bringing old ‘Flashy’ to life were discovered in auctioned off goods from a country house in Ashby, Leicestershire.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

or Joss Hanbury legendary Quorn Master?

Andy Martin
Andy Martin
1 year ago

And Julian Barnes, Graham Chapman, Gok Wan, Parminder Nagra John Deacon, and last but not least, Joseph Merrick otherwise known as ‘The Elephant man.’ I believe also ‘The Flashman Papers edited by George McDonald Fraser bringing old ‘Flashy’ to life were discovered in auctioned off goods from a country house in Ashby, Leicestershire.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

I am pleased that the article mentioned (eventually and in passing) my favourite comic playwright, Leicester-born Joe Orton. But how could an article list famous Leicesterians and omit my favourite comic novelist, Sue Townsend?

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
1 year ago

 40% of the city’s population reside in the most deprived 20% of areas in the country.

Which makes it hard to have any sympathy for a fanbase that comes to Anfield every year to sing about poverty.

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
1 year ago

 40% of the city’s population reside in the most deprived 20% of areas in the country.

Which makes it hard to have any sympathy for a fanbase that comes to Anfield every year to sing about poverty.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Leicestershire still has superb Hunting country: lots of challenging hedges and fences and grass.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

So why is the Quorn NOT what it used to be?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

furious infighting between Masters and a failed merger plan with Cottesmore, I believe

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Thanks.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Thanks.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

furious infighting between Masters and a failed merger plan with Cottesmore, I believe

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

So why is the Quorn NOT what it used to be?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Leicestershire still has superb Hunting country: lots of challenging hedges and fences and grass.

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago

Good idea ruing by facts really

Tigers won last year and were losing semi finalists this yeae

Snooker player is back to his best

In fact its just tye football team, vastly over paid snd not fromLeicester who have struggled to show sny interest

Bit harsh to write off the whole city

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Davis

The greatest tragedy Leicester ever suffered besides the near total total destruction of the Roman city was the loss its great Augustinian Abbey church around 1538/9.

A Cathedral sized building, and also the burial place of Cardinal Wolsey, it was the richest monastic house in the Diocese of Lincoln.
Its destruction was a national disaster from which it has yet to recover.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Chris Dean
Chris Dean
1 year ago

Well, that and Claudia Webbe.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Dean

We are a bit embarrassed about Showaddywaddy as well.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Dean

We are a bit embarrassed about Showaddywaddy as well.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago

I used to cross over the road at lunchtime from my knitwear factory to pay my respects to the great man.

Chris Dean
Chris Dean
1 year ago

Well, that and Claudia Webbe.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
1 year ago

I used to cross over the road at lunchtime from my knitwear factory to pay my respects to the great man.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Davis

The greatest tragedy Leicester ever suffered besides the near total total destruction of the Roman city was the loss its great Augustinian Abbey church around 1538/9.

A Cathedral sized building, and also the burial place of Cardinal Wolsey, it was the richest monastic house in the Diocese of Lincoln.
Its destruction was a national disaster from which it has yet to recover.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago

Good idea ruing by facts really

Tigers won last year and were losing semi finalists this yeae

Snooker player is back to his best

In fact its just tye football team, vastly over paid snd not fromLeicester who have struggled to show sny interest

Bit harsh to write off the whole city

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

An inconsistent, somewhat illogical and downbeat piece of writing, containing some factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations. More at home in the Grauniad than UnHerd surely?

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

An inconsistent, somewhat illogical and downbeat piece of writing, containing some factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations. More at home in the Grauniad than UnHerd surely?

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

Let’s call a thing by its name; Leicester has been destroyed by mass immigration, resulting in warring enclaves of Pakistani Muslims and Indian Hindus, both enthusiastic practitioners of the worst aspects of sweat-shop labour, first-cousin marriage, religious and secular exclusion and intolerance. There is NIL integration of any of these alien communities into the local population and culture.

Drive through its increasingly run-down streets and see the shuffling, impoverished Pakistani population. There is nothing “British” about these people at all. See the scowling old men sitting in ruined front gardens of over-crowded houses on battered kitchen chairs, the gangs of garishly dressed young men, the women scurrying along heavily veiled or traipsing four steps behind their strutting husbands and sons.

As for lockdown, look at the constant travel to and from Pakistan (a major focus of infection) when all other travel was paralysed. Look at the rates of vaccine refusal on religious grounds. Look at Matt Hancocks admission that local lockdiwn was “politically undesirable “

Last edited 1 year ago by ben arnulfssen