TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

LEICESTER CITY 0 BURNLEY 0

Report by Paul Weston

I was asked to write this report for the Trust about four weeks ago. I now find myself almost lost for words after the devastating event on 27 October which has shaken our Club and the local community to the core and reverberated throughout the whole football world. So many words have been written by respected journalists over the past two weeks. I cannot compete with that but I will try and describe in my own words my thoughts and how the match day unfolded against Burnley on 10 November.

It was an early start from Suffolk to make sure that I got to Leicester in good time to meet my niece and husband who were travelling from Essex. Her banner is in the picture below (and lovingly made by my sister!).

It is a journey that I have driven so many times before and, as I drove to Leicester, my mind wandered thorough all the good times, and bad, that I had experienced in supporting Leicester City over the years. It has been a roller coaster ride culminating in winning the Premiership title which was beyond our wildest dreams. However, none of the bad times could compete with the death of our chairman and his four companions at our stadium in such awful circumstances. I never had the pleasure of meeting Khun Vichai, yet why have I been trying to come to terms with how devastated I feel for his son Top and his family? It seems so unfair and tragic that our chairman helped to make our dreams come true and yet died at the very heart of our Club.

King Power shirts were everywhere in the town centre and, by the time we had arrived at Jubilee Square, the crowd had certainly surpassed by miles the original 5,000 target. The atmosphere was one of celebration and certainly not of memorial. The crowd grew and grew with club shirts from different teams on view, evidence of the support that we have received from the wider football family. Rain drops started to fall as the walk to the stadium gradually proceeded, with Maguire and Maddison in evidence, both who could not start the match through injury.

The downpour did not dampen the spirits of the fans as they got closer to the stadium through the town. Onlookers filmed the massive crowd, people hung from balconies taking photographs. Car horns peeped through the town’s underpass.

As we approached the stadium the clouds parted and the sun shone from a blue sky. It seemed fitting. We went to our bricks on the Kop side, as we frequently do, to give them a lucky rub before the match. How many supporters also have similar stupid superstitions?

I must admit that I could not bear to go any nearer to the crash site. I could visualise what had happened all too well and so went into the stadium concourse early for the pre-match events which were extremely impressive. Alan Birchenall spoke well and from the heart. It was touching that so much of the short film about our beloved Chairman featured his connection with people, both young and old. Tears flowed. So many could learn from his humility and how wealth can lead to countless acts of kindness instead of greed.

The two minutes silence was observed wonderfully well by everyone present. The special scarves formed a sea of white. When Mike Dean blew his whistle, it felt like all the pent-up emotion was released and a massive roar energised the team into one of the best starts to a match we have witnessed this season.

City created many chances and should have been 3-0 up by half time. N’Didi’s shot was just wide, Vardy’s shot was blocked on the line, Ghezzal’s header hit the woodwork and Gray’s shot saved by Hart. Slick passing was evident, and the team was amazingly full of energy, or was it adrenaline after a turbulent two weeks? Burnley looked very ordinary and seemed content to slow the game down at every opportunity.

After an interval during which we honoured members of the forces in our normal manner the second half progressed but never hit the heights of the first half. City players tried their utmost to get a goal their efforts deserved and the crowd willed the ball to cross the line. On sixty minutes the crowd burst into applause for its chairman just as Vardy burst through on goal. How fitting that a goal could have been scored then, but it was just not to be.

Puel surprisingly pulled Albrighton off and brought Iheanacho on. Suffice to say in 30 minutes he had an absolute stinker and unfortunately during this period Burnley grew stronger as City players wilted. Chris Wood could easily have scored from Burnley in this period. If only Okazaki had come on earlier than six minutes from the end of the match as he clearly had the ability to join up play and could control the ball – something beyond the skills of Iheanacho.

As the match ended 0-0 the team and back room staff gathered together and then were joined by Top, his brother, Claudio Ranieri, Nigel Pearson, Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh. They applauded the fans around all sides of the stadium and then Top bowed to us all from the centre spot. It was such a poignant moment and our hearts went out to the small man in the middle who has lost his father, yet on whom our Club’s hopes for the future depend.

We have been blessed when Khun Vichai bought this club. Thank you with all our hearts.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Ghezzal, Gray, Albrighton, Vardy. Subs: Simpson, Soyuncu, Iheanacho, Ward, Okazaki, Iborra, Fuchs.

Burnley: Hart, Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson, Defour, Cork, Lennon, Vokes, Wood. Subs: Heaton, Barnes, Brady, Hendrick, Westwood, Bardsley, Vydra.

Referee: Mike Dean.

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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GRAY GRABS VICTORY FOR VICHAI AND CITY

Cardiff 0 City 1

With the recent events, the results and therefore match reports of games became secondary to supporting our players. LCFC staff and owners as they grieved the loss of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, however with our first home game since the tragic crash played, we are now publishing match reports for both games played since. Our match reporters of course reflect on the mood of the day as much as the events on the pitch

Match Report by Colin Hall

After one of the most difficult and harrowing weeks in the club's history, a 55th minute strike by Demarai Gray was sufficient to earn victory for Leicester City over hosts Cardiff.

As the club and much of its fanbase remained in mourning over the loss of five people, including chairman/owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Claude Puel's side displayed considerable levels of character and resilience, particularly when talismanic defender Harry Maguire was forced out of the game with a knee injury before the half-hour mark.

Although the clash, between a home team embroiled in a relegation battle likely to last much of the season and a visiting side enduring an indifferent run of form, was far from a footballing classic, the scenes witnessed both before and after the game will live long in the memories of those of us fortunate to be present.

Even the act of securing entrance to the Cardiff City Stadium proved eventful, with a combination of inadequate turnstiles and eccentric stewarding delaying admission for many Foxes for up to half an hour.

However, once inside, the host club made amends of sorts by offering fans free food and drinks packs. With Leicester staff also handing out free T-shirts commemorating Vichai, chaos reigned in the visitors' concourse for a while before order was eventually restored.

No sooner had we finally managed to take our seats than Cardiff fans were joining us in paying respect to Vichai, unfurling Thai flags, laying a wreath and immaculately observing a minute's silence. These actions, together with those seen at other grounds, along with the many tributes left by fans of other clubs outside the King Power Stadium, illustrate the respect and admiration held for him throughout the game.

When the game finally commenced, the Foxes, wearing the grey and orange away kit for the first time in the Premier League, looked understandably subdued. Nevertheless, the defence held firm during the opening period, with Kasper Schmeichel's goal only being seriously threatened on two occasions.

The first of these saw Paterson burst clear on goal, only for to be denied by a spectacular recovery tackle by Maguire. This was the incident that caused the game-ending injury to the visiting defender, which proved sufficiently serious to rule him out for several weeks – a blow for England as well as the Foxes.

Cardiff's next chance arose when Wilfred Ndidi conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area to allow Gray, who had lain prostrate for some time with an injury, to receive treatment. Camarasa's subsequent effort cleared the Leicester wall and struck the crossbar, though Schmeichel may have had the shot covered had its flight been a fraction lower.

The hosts were as physically competitive as to be expected from a side managed by Neil Warnock, but this was an occasion when the Foxes refused to be bullied, and instead set about making their superior quality tell. Indeed, the visitors started to create clear chances of their own, though for various reasons were not able to convert any of them before the interval.

Ten minutes into the second half, the breakthrough finally arrived, when a fine passing move on the left involving Marc Albrighton and Ben Chilwell saw the latter cross for Gray to fire home from close range.

While the players celebrated ecstatically in front of the travelling contingent, the winger peeled off his shirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath bearing the message “For Khun Vichai”. This caught the referee's attention and earned Gray the most contentious of bookings.

Although he was technically in breach of the law, this was a time where the official might have reasonably claimed not to see the incident. After all, it was an excuse referee Probert deployed throughout the afternoon, most notably when former Fox Sol Bamba used an arm late in the first half to block a goalbound attempt by Jamie Vardy. In addition a succession of foul throws by home midfielder Gunnarsson also went unpunished. Suffice to say, the sooner VAR is introduced to this league, the better.

Nevertheless, the Foxes successfully dealt with everything that both opponents and officials could throw at them, and the sight of thousands of home fans leaving the stadium leaving the ground well before the end told its own story.

Once the final whistle sounded, the entire playing squad – including players not involved in the match – gathered in front of the Blue Army to thank us for our support and pay further homage to our departed owner. The fans responded with chants in honour of Vichai and various individuals – as well as in support of Puel, whose composure and dignity in recent days has seen his stock rise sharply among the Foxes fanbase. Could this be a turning point in his tenure at the club?

Despite our immeasurable loss, this occasion saw a rekindling of the spirit among players and fans alike which proved such a key factor in propelling us to the Premier League title and sustaining us during our exploits in the Champions League.

If this spirit can be maintained during the coming weeks and months, it is not inconceivable that further glories may yet lie ahead for us. 

Cardiff (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Arter (Ward 79), Murphy, (Madine 85); Reid (Hoilett 65); Paterson.Subs not used: Smithies, Cunningham, Damour, Harris.

Booked: Arter, Hoilett.

Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire (Evans 27), Chilwell; Mendy, Ndidi; Albrighton, Maddison (Iborra 82), Gray (Simpson 70); Vardy. Subs not used: Iheanacho,Ward, Diabaté, Fuchs.

Goal: Gray (55)

Booked: Ndidi, Gray.

Referee: Lee Probert.               Attendance: 30,877.

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Fans Groups Lay Wreaths For Vichai

Prior to the game today LCFC Supporters Club, Union FS,  Foxes Pride, Disabled Supporters Association and the Foxes Trust joined together to lay a Fans Group wreath in memory of Vichai

We were joined by Burnley Fans Groups which includes Accrington Clarets, Boundary Clarets, Burnley Football Supporters Club, Central Lancs Clarets, Colne Clarets. Disabled Supporters Group

Earby Clarets, London Clarets, North Manchester Clarets, Rossendale Clarets,  South West Clarets,  Skipton Clarets and West Yorkshire Clarets

 

 

 

Pilgrimage to Cardiff

Foxes Trust Board Member Colin Murrant’s thoughts…

I guess Leicester Fans could have bought their ticket allocation out many times once the Club confirmed the match would be played, it almost became a pilgrimage. A match you just wanted to be there, just like the thousands who wanted to be there at the King Power during the week to pay their respects. The following text documents my personal experience of Saturday; the reasons for the love and respect of Khun Vichai and his achievements have been well recorded elsewhere.

There is no script for grieving, particularly for someone you have never spoken to. Some comfortably cope with death if it is not one of their family members, others get emotional to the point of tears: for better or worse I find myself in the latter group. Not always, but sometimes events, inspirational acts just make the eyes fill with tears. And so, the week following the tragic crash the tears had flown many times.

The journey to Cardiff was not at all emotional, Cross Country trains made sure of that. I met my son at Cardiff station and we went to the ground to pick a ticket up before joining some Welsh friends we had not seen for a few years. Arriving at the stadium at the same time was the Leicester City team coach. Both sets of fans and Bartley Bluebird (club mascot) had assembled near the player’s entrance and all broke into applause as the coach pulled slowly into its parking place. The accord between the fans, and the arrival of those players who had made the brave decision to play, was the first opportunity for the lump in the throat to make an appearance.

Walking to the away end it was noticeable that other fans you know, or normally just shake hands with, wanted to chat, wanted to hug. Inside and immediately you were met with the staff handing ‘The Boss’ t-shirts out, by the time I got there just XXXL size remained, not flattering for the figure but large enough to comfortably cover outer-clothing; a further layer most welcome with the strong wind. Through that queue and there was another one, this time for most welcome food, supplied free by Cardiff consisting of a soft drink, sausage roll, crisps and chocolate bars. given to all those who wanted them.

As it turned out this was not the Cardiff Remembrance match, that is this coming Saturday, so pre-match minute’s silence was for Vichai alone.  As the teams came out huge banners appeared, one from Leicester and one from Cardiff. Cardiff passed along the stands to the Foxes Fans, the Thai flag flanked each side by one of the two club badges. Leicester’s was an enormous Thai flag, both carried messages to Vichai. The minutes silence was impeccably respected by all, the large screen had a picture and further message in respect of the chairman. Respectfully, Cardiff showed pictures of all 5 of the travelling companions as the stadium announcer read their names out.

What was different to any other minute’s silence was that the whole of the Leicester football staff and players who had travelled, joined the team on the centre circle, probably 40 or more people. This was the start for more tears and, like yawning, the sobbing was almost contagious. Nobody in the crowd would see Kasper and others fighting the tears in the centre circle until they saw MOTD. What was obvious to those close to the Admin Staff, was that many of them were equally distraught.

As the match was played out there was great respect between supporters and it was clear the whole occasion was surreal. There were of course moments when the cordially stopped for a moment, a bad tackle, a disputed decision, a player going down injured, but as play continued mutual respect was quickly restored.

Demari’s goal was the moment the tension, the raw emotion was released. His and the player’s delight was explosive, never have I seen Albrighton so animated, never have I seen Kasper literally run the full length of the pitch to join the celebrations, a brief pat on the head to his colleagues and he was sprinting back to his goal.

The final whistle went and the City players applauded the Cardiff fans as they made their way to the City faithful. Then occurred one of those moments that you will never forget if you were there. The whole of the aforementioned playing staff joined the players in front of the Foxes fans and joined in the mutual applause and chanting. This lasted for about 10 minutes, it was as if the emotion lifted and Khun Vichai’s family grew closer; united in their mourning yes but gaining strength from solidarity and love of this great club. Players took banners and scarves thrown to them, even Bartley Bluebird joined in the clapping. How apt it was that Andy King was there as is name was chanted; the longest serving player, the one that was there when Vichai bought the club and, of course, we were in Wales.

On the train, and back at the station, it was Cardiff, Welsh and Scotland Rugby fans that wanted to talk to you, to commiserate, to shake your hand. It was like you were everyone’s friend. Cardiff City as a club, as players, as fans were without fault, they understood what the tragedy meant to Leicester City and did everything respectfully and can be very proud.

What we have witnessed with Leicester City in the last few years has been beyond belief, when you get over one story another one appears to be already in the making. There is no script for what we have witnessed – The despair of the Kermorgant Penalty (ironically at Cardiff), the 30 seconds of disbelief at Watford, the record-breaking Championship win, the great escape, The Premier League title, the Vardy 11 match goal scoring run, the European Tour, and now the Tragedy. There is no script, that may be why some of us just have a few tears now and again.

Leicester ‘til I Die

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