So Leicester lost away at newly promoted Hull, and this weekend we were the better side in a 0-0 draw with Arsenal. Had it not been for a couple of questionable penalty decisions that didn’t go Leicester’s way from referee Mark Clattenburg, most fans would have been delighted to have taken a point from the mighty Arsenal. So we only drew with Arsenal. Only!
How things have changed.
I used to be carried on my dad’s shoulders down past the Leicester Royal Hospital to Filbert Street. He would lift me over the barriers and I would sit on his knee. The smell of beer and cigars wafted around and still to this day the smell reminds me of being that five-year-old watching the likes of Weller, Whitworth, Birchenall and then Lineker, Young and Wallington. It was 1976 and my love affair with the Foxes began, and since then I have witnessed many lows, quite a lot of average players and just every now and then enough excitement to ensure I kept coming back for more.
But as a kid, wearing my Umbro City kit proudly, and kicking the ball around on the park, I used to daydream of scoring the winner at Wembley for Leicester in the FA Cup final. But in my 39 years of watching Leicester, it never, ever, ever crossed my mind that we would go and win the top division!
Call it the old First Division, call it the Premier League, you could rename it to suit any sponsors’ cheque in the future [and they probably will] but I never imagined that on top of the 92 football clubs, above Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, would sit our team.
And if I am honest, I STILL don’t believe it!
The whole world now knows our story. For years, I have gone abroad and when asked where I came from, people would look puzzled when the answer was Leicester. I would help them out by letting them know it was a City near to Nottingham, and mentions of Robin Hood and Brian Clough’s Forest would help them out. Recently, on a trip to Poland, I was again asked where was I from… but this time when I told them the answer, their faces lit up and they started to dance around chanting ‘Vardy Vardy Party’ and then grasped my hand and congratulated me on an outstanding achievement as if it was I who had done something amazing.
Leicester City, my team just down the road, has given the world something to smile about. Given hope to those that have none. Given the underdog the chance to “do a Leicester”, to beat the odds and to achieve things which many had thought were simply beyond a believable dream.
It was just eight years ago in 2008 that Leicester dropped for the first time to League One. Never in their history since 1884 had they sunk so low. I was standing in the away end at Stoke getting soaked in the rain as the Foxes under Ian Holloway [no relation!] couldn’t quite get a win to keep us up. The final whistle came and 4,000 Leicester fans sunk to our sodden knees and watched as 23,000 Stoke fans celebrated promotion on the pitch and sung Delilah until their lungs were almost bursting.
So walking away this weekend from the King Power stadium, debating with fellow fans the merits of penalty decisions and feeling disappointed that we only took a point, I reached for perspective.
Could you have ever dreamed this would happen? I know I never did, we have just played at Wembley in the Community Shield and are waiting this Friday for the Champions League draw to see where we are all going on our European Tour! What will happen this season? Who cares? We are champions of England. As Mr Ranieri says “we are living a dream. Keep dreaming… Dilly Ding Dilly Dong!”
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