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