Sunday, 29 January 2012

Leicester City - King Power Stadium

Leicester City FC
King Power Stadium
Filbert Way

0844 815 6000
Official Website

Ground Number: 188
Saturday 28th January 2012
Leicester City 2-0 Swindon Town
FA Cup 4th Round


The club moved to what was originally was called the Walkers Stadium in 2002, with it changing sponsored names to the King Power Stadium in 2010. They'd left their previous home, Filbert Street on a sour note as they were relegated from the Premier League. Following an opening game against Athletic Bilbao - Tiko scoring for Bilbao and Jordan Stewart for Leicester, the Foxes would bounce back immediately, finishing as runners-up to Portsmouth. However, they'd go straight back down again and this time, there would be no quick recovery. Following a series of lower half finishes in the Championship, Leicester City were relegated to League 1 in 2008. This is where the recovery started, the club capturing the League 1 title in 2009 with 96 points - seven ahead of nearest challengers Peterborough United. Finishes in the Championship were a lot more positive this time, 5th in their first season back before losing to Cardiff City in the end of season playoffs. After another playoff failure in 2013, the club were Championship winners under Nigel Pearson, the following season, winning the league with 102 points. It looked like it would be a swift return to the Championship after a poor start to the season, but a late recovery saw them stay up with a fairly comfortable 14th place finish. Pearson was controversially sacked following incidents on a pre-season tour, to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri. The Italian achieved the seemingly impossible by leading Leicester to the 2016 Premier League title, despite pre-season odds as high as 2000-1. Since then, finishes have been around the mid-table mark, with a respectable 9th last season.

Since moving to their new home, Leicester City have reached three FA Cup Quarter Finals  - losing to Blackburn Rovers in 2005 and  Chelsea in 2012 & 2018. The Quarter Final of the League Cup was also reached in  2013/14 before they lost 3-1 at home to Manchester City. As a result of their Premier League title, Leicester City were admitted to the Champions League for the 2016/17 season and won Group G, with a 100% home record against Porto, Copenhagen & Club Brugge. In the Round of 16, Leicester would lose 1-0 in Seville before beating Sevilla 2-0 at home to win the tie overall. Another 1-0 away defeat in Spain, this time against Atletico Madrid was followed up by a 1-1 draw at home which meant Leicester City exited at the Quarter Final stage. A lot of success can be attributed to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who funded a lot of the success and was a well respected and liked owner & chairman. Sadly, he died on 27th October this year, following a helicopter mechanical fault and subsequent crash which killed all 5 people on board, but thanks to the pilot steering away from the stadium, no one on the ground was injured.


As soon as I saw that Leicester or Notts Forest would be at home to Swindon in the FA Cup 4th Round, I was rooting for the Foxes, as I had yet to visit the King Power Stadium. It would mean missing Wycombe's game at Brentford, but seeing as the decision was made in the wake of Wycombe's 6-0 defeat to Huddersfield, the decision was made easier for me. I got my wish, as Leicester trounced Forest in the replay and so I ordered a £20 ticket from the Leicester City website. On the day, I had to work from 5-9am as they were short of staff, but after getting changed, going shopping and making the journey up the motorway, I was parked up by 11.40. There is a local road called Upperton Road which is near the ground and offers free street parking. The ground is about 5-10 minutes away from there. I walked into the city centre to to have a look around some shops. After that, I headed off for some lunch (I had meat samosa and chips) before another quick look around some shops before setting off for the stadium. I got there about 2 and had a look around the megastore and the programme shop before going into the ground. I watched West Bromwich Albion v Cardiff City in the previous round, and although this game wasn't as good as that one, it was still fairly decent.

Leicester didn't take long to take the lead, after 5 minutes Jermaine Beckford put them ahead with a close-range goal after 5 minutes. Matt Richie came close to equalising for a plucky Swindon Town side but saw his shot blocked by a great challenge from Sean St Ledger. Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel also made a number of decent stops to keep out the lower league side. Beckford grabbed his second a few minutes into the second half, steering in Paul Gallagher's cross. That killed off Swindon's fight and it was the hosts that had the better of the remaining chances. After the game, I walked back to the car, though it took longer than expected, as I took a wrong turn and ended up walking in a massive circle, doubling the walking time. , I made my way back home, getting in at about 8. Wycombe had lost 5-2 at Brentford whilst I had been at this game and so I had a few drinks to drown my sorrows after reading how abject we were. The way I felt in the morning, I wish I'd just gone straight to bed, not good having just a few hours sleep when you are up at 4am for a hard shift at work!


THE KING POWER STADIUM is another new build ground, like so many others that have been put up in the past 10-20 years. Location wise it isn't bad, being 20 minutes walk from the City Centre. There are also quite a few pubs and takeaways around as it is not far from their former home of Filbert Street, nor the City's Rugby Team Leicester Tigers' Welford Road ground. There is a large megastore at the ground, and unusually a shop selling old programmes in the supporters club. Even though they only stock Leicester City ones, it is still worth a visit, as there are very few left in modern football. 

Inside the ground itself is nice enough. Opened in 2002 and with a capacity of 32,500, this is a typical new-build stadium, offering good views and legroom, but lacking some of the character of the older stadiums. Away fans are located in one corner of the ground, near where the few Leicester "singers" go, though on my visit, they didn't make a lot of noise. There are decent-sized TV scoreboards in each corner and uniquely you can even access the megastore throughout the game if you sit in the family stand. 

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