On trail, from Melton Mowbray’s HB’s own goal to Hvidovre’s JV’s vital block, the league history of Leicester Fosse and City

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According to the club history Frank Gardner was the first manager of Leicester Fosse. From that beginning, being in his teens, he was also a player in the team. The progression of the club from these early years did see them entering the EFL 2nd division in 1894. In the squad at the time, left-back Harry Bailey, a player signed by Gardner. The Melton Mowbray born Bailey joined from home town club Melton Rovers FC in 1891.

Leicester Fosse’s first league game was played on the 1st of September 1894, away to Grimsby Town. New signing from Bury, David Skea scored the first goal in the league. Harry Bailey among the longest serving players at the time, got an unwelcomed feeling, scoring an own goal that evening as the game ended in a 3-4 defeat at the away ground Abbey Park.

Harry Bailey continued to appear for Leicester Fosse until 1899. He had in real left the club a few year earlier, but returned as an emergency goalkeeper, and not in his usual left back position and then officially playing his last game for the club away to Walsall, on the 25th of September 1899. A total of 125 official appearances for the club in this early days was seen as a monumental amount of games. Other players to recognize from that League opening fixture was Jimmy Brown, a central defender, appeared 153 times, he left in 1898. Goalkeeper Jimmy Thraves also was among the long servants, appeared 148 times, left in 1897.

When Harry Bailey appeared for the very last time, at the age of 28, one of the Leicester Fosse goalscorers was forward Tom Bradshaw, signed from Nottingam Forest by the longest serving manager / secretary of the Leicester Fosse and City history, George Johnson. Bradshaw left Fosse in May 1900, but returned to the club in 1905, resigned again by George Johnson, and played that one season, before making his final and permanent departure from the club. Tom Bradshaw made his last appearance for Leicester Fosse v. Burton United in a 2nd division fixture in January 1906, a home 1-1 draw. In that team you had central defender Billy Bannister. Bannister arrived at Leicester Fosse in 1904 signed from Arsenal for a fee of £300. The former England international skippered the team in that 1907/08 season when getting promoted to the 1st division. A total of 160 official appearances and 12 during that only season in the top for Fosse. Bannister, at the time 31 years of age, made his final and last appearance for Fosse in 0-2 league defeat v. Man City, January 1910.

Looking into that line-up you will find Teddy King. He played for Leicester Fosse and City from 1906 to 1922, adding up 227 league games for the club, also appearing in 121 WW1 appearances and 9 FA Cup fixtures, building up a total of 357 league appearances for the football club. His last game for the club as a 37 year old came against Leeds in the 2nd tier at the 20th of February, defeated 3-0. King later became a coach at the club and had that position when Leicester City ended runners-up in the top flight in 1929.

Not many players from the last game of Teddy King did appear much longer than him, but we do find goalkeeper George Hebdon who did survive until November 1924 when he as a 24 year old made his last appearance v. Hull City with a certain Arthur Chandler in the line-up. A long list of players from that game had long lasting careers at Leicester. Forward Hugh Adcock, later to be an England international was in there. The team also had other legendary players such as the clubs league appearance record holder Adam Black, goalscoring hero and later to be manager, Johnny Duncan, being in charge when Leicester appeared for the first time in a final of the FA Cup, 1949 v. Wolves. Reg Osbourne, George Carr and Jack Bamber did also appear in this 2-1 defeat. Arthur Chandler, at the age of 39, was the last player of this lot to appear for Leicester City, that happening on the 22nd of April 1935 in a 2-2 draw against Grimsby Town. Sep Smith was among the players appearing that evening v. Grimsby Town, and he is one of those fantastic servants of the club that appeared both before and after WW2, playing his last game as a 37 year old on the 7th of May 1949. Sep Smith is by some seen as the most legendary and important player in this football clubs history serving the club for almost 20 years.

In this team you had Wales international Mal Griffiths who also are among those great names of the club history. Adding up a total of 373 league appearances, scoring 66 goals and appearing for the club from 1938 to 1956. Joining the club as a teenager from Arsenal and later moving on to Burton Albion. Griffiths last game a 2-1 win at home v. West Ham on the 14th of April in the 1955/56 season. Griffiths did indeed contribute as he scored one of the goals. A teenager among those 11, Tony Knapp, only 19, was a young talent. Knapp had made his debut in February that same season and was the youngest player in the side. He was transferred to Southampton in 1961, playing his last game, also against West Ham, on the 3rd of April, Leicester City winning 5-1.

The team had another 19 year old in the team, on the right-back position. Manager Matt Gillies had chosen John Sjoberg to play. Sjoberg joined Leicester City’s youth side in 1959, being one of many great Scottish talents scouted down from the north. Sjoberg went on to become one of the most influential players during the 60’s and early 70’s. A total of 336 league appearances were added up until his final game played against Arsenal on the 13th of January 1973. Leicester and Sjoberg managed a 2-2 draw away at Highbury. Dennis Rofe was one of the players in the team, and the left back that did become a key player for many years to come had joined from Leyton Orient a few months before this game at Highbury. He did stay on until 1980, surprisingly joining Chelsea during the promoiton push of the 1979/80 season.

Dennis Rofe ended his Leicester career at Fulham in a 0-0 league draw on the 9th of February in 1980. The team that now had gone through a full transformation under Jock Wallace had their eyes on a promotion with a number of younger players making their mark. Ian Wilson was one of those and in total adding up 309 league games for the club before making his move to Everton in September 1987. His last game for Leicester, a great 4-0 home win v. Plymouth Argyle. In this team we found another fantastic servant and loyal man, who do not any further introduction, Steve Walsh is among the greatest ever. The defender had just joined the club from Wigan a year earlier. His total of 368 league games were added up over a period of 14 years. Playing for the last time against Aston Villa in a 0-0 season opener on the the 19th of August 2000.

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Muzzy Izzet were also in that team v. Aston Villa and at the time a legend himself, he earned the club until the end of the 2003-04 season, playing his last game, a 3-1 home win v. Portsmouth missing out on the end game of the season. One of the goalscorers on the day, Paul Dickov, did also leave the club that summer, but returned to the club for a new and second spell in 2008. Dickov stayed on to 2010, before leaving for the final time, playing his last game for Leicester against Preston in a League Cup 1-2 defeat away.

In that team also an established midfielder named Andy King. Allready a gold medal picked up winning that League One trophy the season before. King did see out a fantastic career with Leicester and also appearing 50 times for Wales during his days with the club. He had a bit of a problematic end to his time with the club not able to convince Claude Puel and Brendan Rodgers that he would be of use, with the club giving him a long term contract after the 2015/16 Premier League win. King added up 329 league games for the club from his debut in 2006 until his realease in 2020. His last appearance for Leicester came in a EFL Cup game v. Newport County.

James Maddison came on as a sub in that game at Rodney Parade. Andy King came on as well. Maddison was in the team for this seasons opener v. Wolves, and with the latest debutant at Leicester, Jannik Vestergaard coming on.

  • 1894 – 2021
    • Harry Bailey – 1899
      • Tom Bradshaw – 1906
    • Billy Bannister – 1910
      • Teddy King – 1922
    • George Hebdon – 1924
      • Arthur Chandler – 1935
    • Sep Smith – 1949
      • Mal Griffiths – 1956
    • Tony Knapp – 1956
      • John Sjoberg – 1973
    • Dennis Rofe – 1980
      • Ian Wilson – 1987
    • Steve Walsh – 2000
      • Muzzy Izzet – 2004
    • Paul Dickov – 2009
      • Andy King – 2020
    • James Maddison
      • Jannik Vestergaard

So from the signing of Harry Bailey, done by the clubs first manager / secretary Frank Gardner, you have a total of only eighteen players that adds up the trail from that very first league game until the last.

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