Leicester- One Incredible City
My first post back is about my hometown, which has seen some absolutely incredible and extraordinary scenes recently. Leicester City Football Club have had a fairy-tale season and have defied the 5,000-1 odds at the start of the season and have managed to win one of the most competitive, lucrative and historic sporting trophies, the Premier League trophy. To give some semblance to those odds; Simon Cowell to be next Prime Minister 500-1, Robert Mugabe to win the Nobel Peace Prize 1,000-1 and Kim Kardashian to be US President 2,000-1. Leicester’s 5,000-1 seems an impossible feat. The story has literally caused the Earth to move. Their goals, more precisely the fans’ celebrations have registered on the Richter scale, the biggest being 0.4- the Vardy wonder goal against Liverpool.
Monday 16th May 2016 was the Champions Parade, which saw the players, staff, owners and their friends and family go on an open-top-bus tour of the city, beginning at the King Power Stadium, before going to Clock Tower, The Curve Theatre before heading up London Road (that’s where I was) towards the climax at Victoria Park.
Leicester, a city of 330,000 people, but the parade seen a remarkable 250,000 people line the streets to cheer on the champions. Following the street parade, which finished at Victoria Park, the players, coaching staff, owners and manager came onto a stage in front of 120,000 people to relive famous moments of the season including Jamie Vardy’s record-breaking goal-scoring run, his 40-yard screamer against Liverpool, Ranieri’s hilarious interviews as well as pivotal goals from Wes Morgan, Riyad Mahrez and Shinji Okazaki. After all the players had lifted the trophy, had some interviews and Kasper Schmeichel’s chorus of Champione, Leicestershire band Kasabian came on and rocked the crowd with some of their best known songs.
The Leicester story has been unstoppable. In a game they weren’t even playing in, the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham, which meant Leicester were effectively champions, an astonishing 5.5 million tweets about Leicester becoming champions were tweeted.
Parade Day was an incredible experience for everyone involved. My day started at 2:30pm, catching the crammed double-decker bus into the town centre, and walked to the Clock Tower, which already had people waiting along the route. I think proceeded a mile or so up London Road to The Old Horse pub which is opposite Victoria Park. Myself and some friends bought some drinks and had some food while we waited, and headed over to Victoria Park which had a variety of performers on the stage including: gospel choirs, bangra dancers, cheerleaders and a DJ playing tracks to crank up the atmosphere. After some time there, we headed down London Road to find a place to watch the parade. Health and safety went out the window here, people on top of trees, bus shelters, traffic lights, bar balconies, archways, roofs, anywhere possible! London Road was were the biggest of the crowds had gathered as it is a short walk to Victoria Park, so the barriers were completely ignored and everyone stood in the middle of the road, and as the bus crept forward at a snails pace, the crowd just erupted and it was pandemonium. One of the funny moments which I have filmed on my camera (by happenstance!) was when a girl, on the shoulders of a friend, lifted her top up at Leicester City’s Danny Simpson’s request, with some of the players taking photos. (She had a bra on btw!)
After the parade, we headed over to Victoria Park and watched the players enjoy their moment. This was followed by a gig by Kasabian which had the entire 120,000 crowd having a blast, as they played their best known songs including Fire which was a fitting song choice. All in all, it was an incredible experience that no-one in Leicester will ever forget!
Not only has the football club won one of sport’s biggest prizes, but other sporting success has also come our way. Mark “The Jester from Leicester” Selby won the Snooker World Championship in a thrilling match which finished 10 minutes after Leicester City had won the league. 10 minutes in Leicester sport that will never be forgotten. Selby’s final had international viewership as his opponent China’s Ding Junhui has a fanatical following. 210 million people watched Ding’s route to the final, and 45 million watched the opening sessions of the thrilling final. This event has been the most watched sporting event in China of the year so far.
Leicester Tigers Rugby Club have made the Premiership Play-Offs for 12 successive years, which is an incredible achievement, and they also narrowly lost in the European Champions Cup Semi-Finals 16-19 to Racing 92. Here’s hoping that they can add to City’s and Selby’s achievements by negotiating their way past a tough-looking Exeter Chiefs and probably E.C.C champions Saracens.
This was some camera footage off my phone, but by this time I’m pretty drunk and jumping up and down to Kasabian’s music. I have plenty more photos and videos of that brilliant day, but I think that this video pretty much sums up the party atmosphere of the city. My Facebook and Twitter has been full of my friends and friends of friends, as well sporting, news and funny Facebook pages that have tweeted or have posted photos of the parade and party. Leicester certainly knows how to celebrate!