Leicester City and the vanishing Scottish influence!

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The last Scottish player to play a full first team game for Leicester City was Paul Gallacher, this was back in the 2012-13 season and since then we have seen no Scottish players in a Leicester City first team shirt.

The Scottish influence at Leicester City is well documented with a number of players playing a big part in great finals, still having club records and being key players in promotions and crucial escapes from relegation.

Looking back in history, Scotland is a place for football talent and Leicester City are among those clubs that found talent were others didn’t look. We have gone down the memory lane to look up those “Fantastic Tartans”.

The first player to recognize is the one with most league appearances in the history of Leicester City. Adam Black was his name. a right back who captained Leicester City during that fantastic 1928-29 season ending runners-up in the league.

Adam Black, born 1898 in Denny Scotland, came as a schoolboy to Leicester and stayed for 15 seasons, making his debut in 1920, and playing his last game in 1935. Black played 528 league games (a club record) and scored 4 goals.

In that team you had another Scot who also is a record holder, Johnny Duncan. Duncan scored 6 goals in a 7-0 win v. Port Vale back in 1934. This still stands as a record for most goals scored in a single game, later equalized by Arthur Chandler, who both hold this record together. Duncan returned to Leicester and became manager after World War II, reaching the FA Cup final in 1949 with Leicester City, the first time in history. Sadly Leicester lost the game to mighty Wolves who won the clash 3-1.

Duncan is also known for the signing of Don Revie who later became a legend as Leeds manager and dedicated a lot of his management knowledge to Johnny Duncan who was given a full chapter in his autobiography, saying “Until you have heard Johnny Duncan talk about Soccer then your Football Eduacation is sadly lacking”. Duncan scored 88 league goals in 279 league games while at Filbert Street.

When Leicester as a 2nd tier team reached the FA Cup final in 1949, they had three Scottish players in the line-up. The defender Sandy Scott (31/1), a forward named Ken Chisholm (42/17) and the legendary outside left Charlie Adam (158/22). Scott and Chishol has short stays at Leicester, with Adam being a player at the club for 14 years, one of few to have played for the club before and after the World War II.

The next player from north of the border to get a line is goalkeeper Johnny Anderson. He was a certain number one for many years introduced to the first team by Johnny Duncan. He was a certain number one during most of the 50’s, and stepped down when a certain Gordon Banks came to the club back in 1959.

Matt Gillies took charge of Leicester City back in 1958, coming in as a caretaker boss stepping up from his coaching role. He was a Scottish gentleman with a previous life as a defender at the club, playing 103 league games after joining from Bolton Wanderers. The influence of Scottish players evolved under the management of Gillies who had an eye for talent going back up north to find players at an early age and giving them a chance ot move south.

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Firstly Gillies managed to avoid relegation from the 1st divsion. He slowly build stone by stone and by 1961 he had managed to reach the FA Cup final with Leicester City. In this team four players were Scottish. The captain Jimmy Walsh, Ian King, the youngster Frank McLintock and Hugh McIlmoyle.

Ian King, Frank McLintock and Hugh McIlmoyle were all picked up from more or less amateur clubs in Scotland, all joining Leicester City at a very young age. Jimmy Walsh joined from Celtic and was well established when moving to Filbert Street.

Leicester City climbed and climbed under Matt Gillies and the team known as the “Ice Kings”, almost managed to win “The Double” but stumbled from a top position, losing four games in the end of the that 1962-63 season, when they also reached the FA Cup final again, seen as favorites against Manchester United.

The team had seen a few changes since 1961, but still the Scottish influence was there to see. There were four Scots in the team, Frank McLintock and Ian King were still there, joined by John Sjoberg and the lively Dave Gibson. Gibson had joined Leicester from Hibs a season before and became a key player for many seasons, and played a part in the next cup finals as well, taking place in 1964, 1965 and 1969.

Frank McLintock left Leicester City in 1964, joining Arsenal for a club record fee of £80.000, and later became a key figure at Highbury, winning “The Double” and captaining their team. John Sjoberg had a long and good career at Leicester City playing 336 league games and scoring 15 goals. Sjoberg played in both League Cup fijnals of the 60’s, but missed out on the 1969 FA Cup final, due to an injury, but later forced his way back in to the team and one promotion in 1972, keeping on to 1973, before moving to Rotherham.

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Matt Gillies as so many Leicester City managers had to balance the books and while players left he signed new once. The next Scot to talk about is Jimmy Goodfellow. A pacy winger / midfielder signed from Third Lanark. He scored in the 1965 League Cup final against Chelsea and stayed at the club for four seasons from 1963 to 1965, scoring 28 goals in 98 league games.

Leicester City won their first ever trophy in 1964. The League Cup was captured after winning a two legged final against Stoke City. The team had three Scots, John Sjoberg, Max Dougan and Dave Gibson. When Leicester again reached the same final in 1965, Jimmy Goodfellow was in the team, so were six other Scots, Ian King, Tom Sweenie, Dave Gibson, John Sjoberg, Billy Hodgson and newly record signing Bobby Roberts.

Matt Gillies made a number of changes to the team he had build and by the time a new big final was reached, the FA Cup in 1969, Gillies had been replaced with Frank O’Farrell, but the Irish manager had no doubt about playing Scottish players.

While Man City fielded a “Full English” team, Leicester kept their Scottish tradition running. Bobby Roberts and Dave Gibson were still there in company with Andy Lochhead and Malcolm Manley who came on as a sub.

A few changes were made under Frank O’Farrell who lost the final at Wembley and also faced relegation in the same season, but had time for sentimental feelings as he rebuild his team to again fight for promotion.

When Leicester City again, after two season in the 2nd tier, reached the top, it was with a new Scot up front, a young Alistair Brown. Malcolm Manley and John Sjoberg were still at the club and was the “Tartan Army” at Leicester City in that first season back.

Jimmy Bloomfield had taken over with Frank O’Farrell moving to Manchester United. Jimmy had a different view and instead of looking north, he went down to London to find new players. Brown left first for West Bromwich, Manley joined Portsmouth and Sjoberg moved to Rotherham, all of them gone by the year of 1973.

Jimmy Bloomfield did sign a Scottish player with Brian Alderson joining from Coventry in the summer of 1975. He also introduced a young Scot, Peter Welsh to the first team and gave him his debut as a teenager, so he was not a manager free from Scottish scouting.

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When Frank McLintock moved in and came back to Leicester, his first signing was a Scottish midfielder, Eddie Kelly from QPR. Tommy Willliams made his debut and Billy Hughes joined from Derby. The Scottish tradition was slowly coming back at Leicester City.

Frank McLintock was replaced after that terrible 1977-78 season, in with a new Scottish manager the “no nonsense” Jock Wallace was brought down from Rangers. He had done well with the Scottish giant and the former goalkeeper made it clear that Scotland was the place to find new Leicester City talents.

A stock of Scottish players joined from all over. Martin Henderson and Alan Lee, both previous Rangers players joined from NASL. Ian Wilson, Kevin MacDonald, Nicky Walker, Derek Strickland, Bobby Smith and record signing Alan Young came in as Jock Wallace build a fresh new team, with Welsh, Williams and Kelly all part of it.

When Jock Wallace got Leicester City promoted he decided to go back north for his next recruit. Partick Thistle and Scotland U.21 striker Jim Melrose was the player he wanted to play up front in partnership with Alan Young, replacing Martin Henderson.

The next Scottish duo to really make a big impact at Leicester was the Motherwell players Gary McAllister and Ally Mouchlen who joined the club in 1985. A combined fee of £250.000 was paid by Gordon Milne, and those two became important players, despite playing most of their league football for Leicester City in the 2nd tier.

Leicester City have as so many other English clubs depended less on Scottish players as the market of foreign imports opened up and we have seen a big decrease in the hunt for talent up north. Mark McGhee and Craig Levein are the only two Scots to have been in charge at Leicester City since.

McGhee had no eye for Scots and his short spell at Leicester City never really made this a topic. Craig Levein brought with him a few names from Hearts, but they were not Scottish but from other nations.

Matt Elliott played for Scotland but have never looked at him as a Scottish player, and didn’t regard him in that way. Peter Canero, Billy McKinley, Rab Douglas and Iain Hume are Scottish,  and did play for Leicester City.

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Not to forget £1.6million signing Callum Davidson. The left back coming in from Blackburn Rovers is still the most expensive Scottish signing.

We will of course not forget Paul Dickov who had two decent periods at the club, being part of two promotions, first in 2002/03 and than in 2008/09, coming back for a 2nd spell and being of influence.

Since Dickov left we have not seen many Scots in the line-up with Robbie Nielsen and Paul Gallacher being the last pair to shine for Scotland in a Leicester City shirt. We have not forgotten Steve Howard, who represented Scotland at B-level but is English born and one recognized in the same category as Matt Elliott.

It’s a bit sad to see the Scots vanish from English football and not really being able to bring forward the talent they used to, and you can see how they have struggled with their national team as well not being able to compete at the highest level anymore.

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