18 year old Tom Kilkelly in the starting line-up, his unique and memorable story about Leicester City and their forgotten FA Cup 3rd place play-off’s!

Leicester City recently reached this seasons FA Cup semi-final, playing Southampton at Wembley on the 18th of April. Going down Memory Lane, you have to go back a great number of years to find the last two events of such earlier happenings, 1982 and 1974. We all know the details and talk about those defeats, but it was more ..

On the 9th of May 1974, Leicester City and Burnley played each other at Filbert Street, in what was a short lived event called the FA Cup 3rd place play-off’s. This game was the fifth of it’s kind, and the last time arranged, it all started in 1970. 4 432 had met up at Filbert Street, Burnley victory 1-0,  Leicester ended fourth. Looked at player names in the Leicester City line-up, all familier ,besides one, Tom Kilkelly. Never heard of him, not listed anywhere as a first team player, so wondered a bit, and thought, who is he?, made a “Google” search for his name, in relation with football, and found an interesting path to Perth, Australia. Then a new search on Facebook, found a Tom Kilkelly from Perth and sends the following message,

Question

Hi, if you are the guy that played in the game v Burnley on the 9th of May 1974, would be great to have a chat with a few questions, what happened after and all that? I live in Norway, a massive LCFC fan, and run a website called filbertway, i will do a story on that forgotten game a third place fa cup match, that was just played five times, have a nice day

Tom’s answer

Hi, Yes I’m the Guy that played in that game . Yes no problem having a catch up , look forward to it . Take care, Tom

Question

Fantastic, take care as well, I will soon be back with a few questions, thanks!, regarding that special game, just doing a q&a in this conversation, if that is ok, first, how did you end up in that line up for that game, and what happened next, never seen you in the first team after that? did you play in the reserves or the youth team?

Tom’s answer

Alan Birchenall was injured , Joe Waters was away with the Rep of Ireland , I had played in Graham Cross’s testimonial against Derby County also playing Reserves & Captain of the Republic of Ireland youth team. I was born in Galway , family moved to England in 1961, brought up in Derby came through the system of school teams with Derby boys, Leicester picked me up from England school boy training , Playing youth team when I was 15 resses when I was 16 , went on from there.

A rare and special trophy, picture from Tom’s personal album

Question

Do you have any memory of the Burnley game, did you have any chances to score, how do you rate your performance, despite the loss 1-0, and who was your best mate at Leicester, and what was your age in 1974 on that day?

Tom’s answer

I marked Brian Flynn did a good job on him , the goal was scored by Ray Hankin may have been a corner or free kick from out wide he scored with his head . Had quite a few good mates at the City, still in contact with them today. Joe Waters , Alan Birchenall, Phil Weller, Brendan Phillips, Capewell twins & so many more I’m still talking to!! I was 18 at the time of that game .

Question

What specific position did you play in that game, midfield?, and what was your best position, what happened for you in the 74/75 season, and did you get anymore chances to train and play in the first team? When did you leave Leicester, and what happened next, what did you do after football? Do you follow Leicester today? do you have any other favorite football teams, and are you still involved in football?

Team Group, Leicester City, 1974/75, Tom in the back row, number three from left

Tom’s answer

I played centre midfield, position I feel I was best at dual centre half or sweeper. I was capped 14 times with the Irish youth team & captain. Yes played in Graham Cross’s testimonial v Derby County , went out on loan to Northampton Town , came back released in 1975 , played at Burton Albion for a while , then signed with Shamrock Rovers ( Ireland) until the end of that season. 1976 off to South Africa played with Maritzburg in Durban for a season then in East London for a season! Returned to UK signed for AP Leamington for 4 years then to Trowbridge with Alan Birchenall from there to Bedworth for 1/2 a season. Then May 82 moved to Sydney, Australia, with my wife Julie & 2 year old daughter Tracey,  signed for Apia in the national league . Then in 1984 moved to Perth , Kingsway Olympic, been here ever since.

Finished playing in 1993 , straight into coaching took over from former Liverpool / Swansea player Colin Irwin. Coached at various clubs in Perth up untill 2017, retired as coach from Kingsway Olympic!! Working, playing golf & retiring in August.

Question

Fantastic journey, great read, so you must have added up a great number of games for all these teams, any manager/coach you would say had a special impact on your journey?

Question

Finally, how was your loan spell at Northampton, any great memories of players you have played against, who was the best?, any teammate that made a great impression on you?, ever thought of why you didnt made it at leicester, or in the english league, is it bad luck, injuries or just that you would rather explore the world? and finally, have you been back to watch Leicester? thanks a lot for giving me the insite, looking forward writing this article, will send you the link when its ready

Tom’s answer

Spent four weeks at Northampton, enjoyed it . Players I played with & against the likes of Kevin Beattie, Trevor Francis, Brian Little, Kenny Burns, Peter Withe, Steve Powell so many I could go on for a while.

Team mates there again there was so many all good pros / semi pros I still keep in touch with quite a few there are two of them from my Irish youths day that live here in Australia, we are always in contact, My old Leicester / Irish youth team mate Joe Waters , also Phil Weller again so many we could go on for a long time!

Making it at Leicester, could have been the change of manager Frank O’Farrell went off to United could have been a turning point , who knows. It is what it is , looking back I’ve had a great life & wouldn’t change it .the family the people I’ve met , the friends I’ve made I have enjoyed & still enjoy .

I have been back to Leicester on many occasions,  (I married a Leicester girl) My son Shaun is a mad Leicester fan, Alan Birchenall has looked after us & the family when we go back to Leicester. Myself I’m a Derby County fan have been for a long time , even before I signed for Leicester. Leicester are my second team.

Tom’s son, Shaun, together with a familiar face at Leicester City!

This was far more than expected. a pleasure to talk to Tom Kilkelly and getting to know his journey before and after that FA Cup 3rd place play-off’s, his relationship with Alan Birchenall and how he still in many ways have stayed in contact with his roots at the football club and the city.

Perth, Australia / Sandefjord, Norway, Topic: Leicester City / Date: 28.03.2021

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