Leicester City

Dilly-ding, dilly-dong! Ranieri’s gone. The incredible fairy tale of manager Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester City side, completely unexpected winners of the Premier League in 2015-16, turned sour halfway through 2016-17.

A string of disappointing results following the sale of vital midfielder N’Golo Kanté led to the 2017 sacking of the Italian coach who had charmed the nation a year before.

Picking up from an equally incredible late run to avoid relegation in 2014-15, the Foxes under Ranieri had remained consistent over the winter of 2015-16. Scoring in a record-breaking 11 straight Premier League games, striker Jamie Vardy made a mockery of his recent non-league past while Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez both provided and notched spectacular goals.

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Leicester City Garden of Remembrance/Peterjon Cresswell

Only one defeat in the first 15 games had enabled Ranieri’s Leicester to top the Premier League table. Expected to falter in the new year, the Foxes notched impressive and deserved wins at Spurs and Manchester City to set up a triumphant spring. The title was all but sealed with another spirited team performance to snatch a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Two days later, the players then gathered at Vardy’s house to watch Chelsea come back from 2-0 down and hold Spurs to a 2-2 draw and send the title to Leicester.

Before Ranieri arrived, the club had been in disarray, manager Nigel Pearson given the sack despite Leicester’s relegation-saving winning run weeks earlier. His son James, also on Leicester’s books, had been involved in a controversial incident while on a club tour of Thailand.

Ranieri was the latest in a long line of talented managers at the club. Three times League Cup winners, Leicester thrived under Matt Gillies and Martin O’Neill, whose tactical nous pushed the Foxes into the upper reaches of the top flight.

Formed as Leicester Fosse in 1884, the club moved to Filbert Street seven years later. Fosse later collapsed and Leicester City sprang up in their place in 1919.

With goals from Arthur Chandler, the new club gained promotion to the top flight and, in 1929, lost out on the title by one point to Sheffield Wednesday.

After reaching their first FA Cup final in 1949, Leicester twice won the Second Division title thanks to the prolific Arthur Rowley.

His departure coincided with ex-Leicester defender Matt Gillies becoming manager. Starting with Gordon Banks, Gillies brought undiscovered talent to Filbert Street – along with coaching assistant Bert Johnson.

Gillies and Johnson devised a fluid tactic that broke with the strict 2-3-5 structure inherent to the domestic game. With an interchanging half-back line featuring Frank McLintock, Leicester reached two cup finals, in 1961 and 1963.

After a first-half injury to Len Chalmers, a weakened Leicester folded to double-winning Spurs in 1961, while in 1963, the Foxes missed early chances to allow Manchester United to take control.

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Filbert Street/Peterjon Cresswell

That spring, Leicester had gone on an 18-game unbeaten run to top the table in mid April, overcoming icy pitches after a severe winter. By the rescheduled cup final they had fallen away to fourth, their double bid foiled.

Gillies’ Leicester at last won silverware, the League Cup, in 1964, but with the departure of McLintock and then Banks, the decade draw to a close with another FA Cup final defeat and relegation.

The 1970s mavericks such as Keith Weller, Frank Worthington and Len Glover light up Filbert Street but cup runs and creditable league campaigns produced no silverware. With the arrival of Gary Lineker, Leicester had a genuine home-grown star, but the club remained mired in mid-table.

Yo-yoing between divisions stopped with Martin O’Neill, his five-year tenure from 1995 generating two League Cups and four top-ten Premiership finishes.

O’Neill’s Leicester had gained promotion thanks to a dramatic Premiership play-off decided on a 120th-minute goal by Steve Claridge against Crystal Palace. A year later, Leicester returned to Wembley for the League Cup final, again decided by Claridge in the replay.

Leicester made a rare return to Europe, losing out to Atlético Madrid, the hurdle in their previous campaign in 1961.

With mainstays Neil Lennon, Emile Heskey and Matt Elliott, Leicester made two more League Cup finals, winning one, before O’Neill left for Celtic.

Relegation and a new stadium near Filbert Street caused financial ruin, Leicester rescued by a Lineker-led consortium. A subsequent takeover by US-Serb entrepreneur Milan Mandaric then saw stormy times, a new low of relegation to the third flight followed by a play-off place for the Premier.

Motivational boss Nigel Pearson left soon afterwards, returning after Mandaric had sold Leicester to the Thai-led King Power Group. Replacing Sven-Göran Eriksson, Pearson steered Leicester to the play-offs after a memorable last-minute win over Nottingham Forest, sealing promotion a year later by winning the 2014 Championship.

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King Power Stadium/Peterjon Cresswell

Stadium

Opened by Gary Lineker in 2002, the King Power Stadium, formerly Walkers Stadium, replaced nearby Filbert Street.

Playing earlier at Victoria Park and Mill Lane, in 1891 Leicester Fosse moved to Filbert Street, south of town near the river Soar.

Stands were built in the 1920s, rebuilt after the war and made all-seated in the early 1970s. Significant improvements and additions were made 20 years later, not long before the decision was made to build an entirely new stadium rather than expand.

Filbert Street was demolished in 2003, part of the site used for student accommodation, part of it still fallow today.

In the meantime, shortly after the successful O’Neill era, a new all-seater, 32,500-capacity arena was opened along the riverbank. With construction costs of some £37 million, compounded by relegation, the club fell into debt of almost the same amount.

Originally sponsored by local crisp firm Walkers, the stadium took the name of Thai travel retail group King Power a decade later.

The home Spion Kop end stands opposite the family-friendly Marks Electrical stand nearest to former Filbert Street. Away fans are allocated a corner between here and the Air Asia stand along one sideline. Opposite, the Upton Steel West Stand is nearest the river.

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Leicester City transport/Peterjon Cresswell

Transport

The King Power Stadium is about a 25min walk from the train station, alongside Waterloo Way opposite the concourse then past the rugby ground to your right as you reach Nelson Mandela Park.

Several buses run from the city centre to Aylestone Road – alight at Freemen’s Common just past the Odeon cinema. From the CM stop on downtown Charles Street by the Ramada encore hotel, Arriva bus Nos.47, 47A, 84, 84A, 85 and 86 call at stop EK on Rutland Street, which also serves No.87 and First Bus Nos.88 and 88A.

From there, it’s a 10min bus journey to Aylestone Road/Freemen’s Common a short walk from the stadium on Raw Dykes Road.

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City Fanstore-tickets/Peterjon Cresswell

Tickets

Tickets are distributed at the City Fanstore opposite the Holiday Inn Express at the stadium or online.

They go on general sale 1-3wks before the match, depending on expected demand, online sales subject to a £1 booking fee. You will need to register to obtain a client reference number for yourself and anyone you’re buying tickets for.

Laudably, pricing is organised by several age brackets, from under 8s right up to under 22s, and over 65s – adult prices run from £19 to £50 for the three categories of league fixtures.

Pricing brackets also apply to visiting supporters – children enjoy significant discounts.

The cheapest seats are in sectors A1-A2 and C1-C2 of the West Stand, G1-G2 and H1/K1 of the East Stand, and SK1-4 of the Spion Kop behind the goal. Higher prices apply to B1-B3 of the West Stand and J1-J3 of the East Stand.

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City Fanstore/Peterjon Cresswell

Shop

Facing the Holiday Inn Express hotel, the City Fanstore (Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm, match days) purveys LCFC dartboards, chest-trapping gnomes and retro bowling bags, as well as fashionable Fox & Crop jackets, brogue shoes and watches.

Bars

Easily the best choice for pre-match beers and food is right by the stadium: Soaring Eagle Spur Steak & Grill, in the same building as the Holiday Inn Express hotel. Part of a Dutch chain of quality grill restaurants, this one with a vaguely Native American theme, Spur offers top-notch burgers (Texan chilli, Madras, peppermelt) and steaks. The post-meal Fox’s Glacier Mint is a nice touch. On match days, a more limited menu is provided, all fans convene to sink a Stella or Strongbow or two in the main bar or upstairs one usually frequented by away supporters.

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The Counting House/Peterjon Cresswell

Beyond, bars near here and the former Filbert Street site fill with home fans on match days. This is certainly true of the F Bar tucked away on Walnut Street and the Symphony Rooms on Burnmoor Street.

Off Aylestone Road in a complex of leisure and retail outlets, Local Hero is a grill pub favoured by home fans while behind on Almond Road, The Counting House is a more visitor-friendly, sport-focused pub with a hearty kitchen.


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