Leicester City - Proud and Embarrassed.
By NNFox
Tuesday 23 Mar 2010 18:47:00
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Casting a tired eye over the Roof this evening, one thread in particular caught my eye:

http://www.fansonline.net/leicestercity/mb/view.php?id=189440

For me, pride is the most remarkable emotion that football can stir. Extending this notion even further, pride in defeat feels doubly triumphant. The feeling of a winning goal, particularly an important one, is always a pleasure but comes around fairly often in contrast to that swelling of the chest despite your side losing a game. The Swindon play-off final in the summer of 1993 is the most obvious case in point and was the subject of the first response when I asked the opinion of other fans on Twitter (recent convert, apologies).

Personally, I feel most proud of City when they have given everything in the face of adversity. They don’t even have to achieve anything tangible, but if the majority of players can come off the pitch at the final whistle having given everything and proven themselves not to be quite good enough then that is sufficient for me. City were good enough against Swindon that day and showed it by coming back from three goals down to level the scores but weren’t ultimately undone by a particularly better side.

The second response I got was more in tune with my own thinking – “Chelsea away, hands down”. It was Halloween in the capital and we gave the Russian billionaire a huge fright. And that is just the tabloid angle, unless of course they concentrated solely on the fact their beloved Frank Lampard scored a hat-trick. Chelsea manager Avram Grant was quoted after the game as saying “it showed that we have good character. I’ve never in my life given up until the last moment even if we’re losing 2-0. In the last ten minutes, the players showed they have a big heart.” From a Chelsea fan’s point of view, that is admittedly an important point and they will have been glad that their heroes continued to give so much effort in a decidedly unfashionable competition against equally unfashionable opposition.

Yeah, bollocks. Seven minutes into the second half, with the home side winning 2-1, Grant shoved on Florent Malouda who had cost Chelsea a mere £13.5million. With twelve minutes left and City having fought back valiantly to lead, he turned to bargain £9million signing Salomon Kalou. When Kalou had failed to make an impact in his first two minutes on the pitch, the Chelsea boss got really desperate and chucked on £26million midfielder Michael Essien at the same time that we were forced to replace broken-leg victim Levi Porter with Alan Maybury. The £30million ex-AC Milan striker that inflicted serious injury upon our youth academy product Porter went on to equalise before England international Lampard completed his treble to win the tie for the Londoners. It was hard not to feel enormous pride in the shirt that night and we walked ten feet tall back to the tube despite our exit from the competition.

 The Chelsea fans on the underground allowed themselves a naughty smile as my mate drunkenly chanted “4-3, even Carl Cort scored / Barnsley, Carl Cort didn’t score” in reference to our league game the previous weekend. I remember the following morning reading a post from a City fan on a messageboard saying that the performance and result could not be considered anything other than terrible because we had lost the game. I can understand such opinions but cannot envisage ever sharing them.

My own foremost memory of pride in spite of City defeat concerns our League Cup exit the previous season, exactly one year and one week before the game at Stamford Bridge. It remains one of my most cherished moments at our current home. It isn’t the most evocative venue and I don’t even know what to call it most of the time but it felt special that night although we lost out to a former hero. Martin O’Neill made his first competitive appearance in the opposition dugout as Aston Villa came to town in startling form. The Villans were unbeaten with the season over two months old and faced a City side ravaged by injury.

The story was similar to the Chelsea game in the sense that a late winner sunk our battling unknowns, although it came instead in the dying moments of extra time. It was an encounter filled with drama as Paul Henderson brilliantly saved a Gareth Barry penalty and City struck an 85th minute equaliser to force the additional period but two things in particular stood out for me. The contrast with the substitutes made by Chelsea the following October could barely have been more stark. As we fought bravely against Premiership opposition, our replacements were Josh Low, Darren Kenton and Eric Odhiambo. Need I say more? Ultimately, it was Low’s poor clearance that led to Gabriel Agbonlahor’s last-gasp clincher and youth team striker Odhiambo gave everything up front to very little effect.

The most incredible City performances came from Richard Stearman and James Wesolowski in the middle of the park. With our recognised central midfielders unavailable, Stearman and Wesolowski both played for two gruelling hours against the likes of Barry and Stilian Petrov in Villa’s engine room. Stearman gave his all despite playing out of position away from his usual right-back berth but Wesolowski’s display was even more amazing given his lack of football in the run-up to the tie. As the game looked to be heading to a shootout at the end of extra time, the young Australian made a lung-bursting run from one penalty area to the other in a vain attempt to win the game for City.

When Agbonlahor’s winner hit the back of Henderson’s net, I felt very peculiar indeed. A late, late defeat for City and the sound and sight of 3,000 travelling fans going wild in the away end should rank among the worst feelings in the world. Instead, I just felt enormous pride. Please keep that thread going because I would love to read more.

 

If you have any proud or embarrassing moments following Leicester City add them to the above linked thread or you can send them in to admin@bentleysroof.co.uk.

We're thinking of creating a book with the memories, with LOROS benefiting from the proceeds.


 



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