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Rod at Leicester

My second home

By Rod de Lisle

Picture a grey rainy day in a Waikato farm barn after a cross country race with the Tokoroa Track club as we stood watching a tiny grainy telly. I was 11ish and a bit fat. I hadn’t yet started playing soccer (football was rugger). We were witnessing the British Lions deal to the All Blacks in 1971, and it remains one of the earliest sports memories I have.

I didn’t know much about rugger but the grownups in the shed were grumpy. I was pretty shit at cross country running but the All Blacks were shitter at rugger. So I decided to support them. The barn memory was only re-triggered as I stood in a damp standing-only cowshed stand at Peterborough’s London Road ground in 2009 watching the home team stick a couple past Leicester in a Division 1 defeat. It had the same grey feel. Dismal days.

I’d become a Leicester fan not long after starting my ‘soccer’ playing career at an elderly 13 years old. I picked City although for the first ten years I thought they were called Leicester City Nil (kaboom-tish) and they were mainly dreadful. That didn’t faze me at all. The All Blacks eventually came right didn’t they?

Jump forward, and I had actually seen City play live before the 2009 Peterbro’ game of course. I had the pleasure of seeing City in the Premiership in 2000 hosting Southampton (1-0) and Everton (1-1) then go top of the league the week later under their new manager Peter Taylor. For only a week… People actually got tee shirts printed featuring that league table, it was a Halley’s Comet event. Then they got relegated the next season under the dreadful Taylor.

And I was back in the UK in 2002 at the sparkling new King Power (known then as the ‘Walkers’) stadium to see them win a couple of games and the eventual Championship with promotion to the Premiership. But yep, they went down again straight away and remained exiled from the lucrative premiership with even a one season spell in the First (read 3rd tier) division in that 2008-9 season when I saw the Peterborough game.  And it was 2nd tier until two years ago when I once again visited the East Midlands and saw a couple of 2-1 victories in a Championship winning season.

The glorious day they let me into the inner sanctum

The glorious day they let me into the inner sanctum

In those games, ex-Hamilton Wanderer and All White Chris Wood was playing for City along with a speedy guy called Jamie Vardy. Plus a bunch of other journeymen such as Andy King and Danny Drinkwater. Kasper Schmeichel in goal was mainly known as the son of a famous Man United glove man. Vardy scored a beauty right in front of us in the game against Huddersfield and I have to say he looked the business.

I will head back this weekend to watch the same side, with a couple of key additions. I didn’t expect to be back so soon but booked tickets a few weeks ago when it seemed there just MIGHT be a good reason to be at the last two games.

So we know the ending now. Fish ‘n chip paper already. A city of 300,000, over 8000 miles awa,y that I had barely heard of when I first decided to adopt an English footie team, has defied the odds, fucking big odds, to create the biggest football, and ok sports, upset – ever.

Allow me a gloat or two. At least for a week or two. I know, yeah yeah, I am in danger of boring even myself. But if Enzo will allow it, I’ll pen a post from the KP stadium over the weekend to share a taste of the celebrations.

And finally, to anyone who knows the “That’s Amore” choon, I penned a wee homage to Enzo’s Roman mate. Hum along now.

When the ball hits the sky
Like his big pizza pie
That’s Ranieri!

When the world takes a shine
to this blue team of mine
That’s Ranieri!

Bells will ring dilly-dilly-ding, dilly-dilly-dong
And you’ll sing N’golo Kante
Mahrez will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
And pass through to Vardy

With the manager so cool cos we know City Rule!
That’s Ranieri
When you dance down the street with a ball at your feet
You’re in love

When you walk in a dream but you know you’re not dreaming signore
To City from Chelsea, via Roma and Napoli

That’s Ranieri!

[Rod de Lisle is the Hamilton Wanderers first team manager (in the UK that means coach, here it means dog’s body) and a Leicester City former tragic who has earned the right to gloat on here as many times as he likes!]

Categories: English/UK Football

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

1 reply

  1. Rod, do you by any chance calmly compose your doggerel while sitting on the bench next to an agitated Cossey during Wanderers’ northern league matches? If so, maybe that’s Ranieri too.

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