Foxes A to Z, John Sjoberg, League Cup winner and Wembley Final appearance v. Manchester United

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A teenage centre-half when he followed Jack Lornie’s route to Filbert Street. John made his initial impact for City’s first team as right back, taking over from Len Chalmers just prior to the start of the 1963 Cup run, and climaxing his first season as a regular with a Wembley appearance against Manchester United.

He was a stalwart of the League Cup campaigns of the next two years (scoring the decisive semi-final goal at Home Park in 1965 and was still shuttling between number 2 and number 5 shirt, with effective case until the arrival of Peter Rodrigues, to hold on the right back position. Settling thereafter in to a central defense position.

His partnership with Graham Cross in the heart of the Leicester City defense was one memorable and John displayed a craggy consistency and imposed his areal mastery on many a first division game. The quality tempted Matt Gillies into giving him a spell as centre forward during 1967/8, but John’s back four abilities were more vital City’s strength and shape, and it was notable that the club’s 1969 relegation occurred in a season where jiggling injuries severely limited John’s appearances, and indeed kept him out of the Cup final line-up. Two years later, he was a key member of the 2nd division promotion side, and took the testimonial game against Derby after championship was secured, attracting a crowd of around 24 000.

During his latter Leicester City days he had started a printer business, and it was to this that John returned after a very brief spell of six league appearances at Milmoor. After his playing retirement John was often seen at both Filbert Street and King Power, until his sudden death in 2008.

FACTFILE: 

  • Full Name: John Sjoberg
  • Position: Defender
  • Date of Birth: 12.06.1941
  • Birthplace: Aberdeen
  • Nation: Scotland
  • Major League Career:
    • 1948-73, Leicester City (336/15)
    • 1973, Rotherham United (6/0)

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Mike Stringfellow

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To attempt to characterise Mike’s fourteen seasons with Leicester City is to risk an unfortunately not overly glib analogy with the footballing cliche “it’s a game of two halves”. For seven years after his £ 25 000 move from Mansfield Town the tanky outside-left was one of the most feared attackers in the country, forming lethal left-wing partnership with Davie Gibson and racking up a healthy goal tally.

He was also taking a disproportionate amount of stick though, from defenders otherwise at a loss to curb his pace and strength and the league was further seven year of courageous struggle and determination as Mike fought off a succession of near crippling injuries, to continue to give his all for Leicester City.

Mike had developed at Field Mill under Ratch Carter, making his league debut League bow at 17 alongside Ken Wagstaffe, playing at Filbert Street in the inaugural Football League Cup tie, and soon impressing Matt Gillies as a likely successor to Gordon Wills. He hit 19 League and Cup goals in his first full season at Leicester City, including the looping header past Liverpool’s Tommy Lawrence which assured City of a 1963 Wembley appearance an for five years thereafter his season goal tally never dropped below double figures, while the number of strikes attributable to his crosses was countless.

Mike was a scorer in the 1964 League Cup second leg against Stoke, took a runners-up memento from the next year’s finals v. Chelsea, and to still, with eight goals, City’s all time leading scorer in that competition. Injury problems really began to bite, however, during the 1968/69 League relegation / FA Cup final campaign and a catalogue of operations, comebacks, breakdowns and sheer frustrations ensured. Yet all this time even a semi-fit “Stringy” was a valuable squad member, and his April 1975 testimonial game against Wolves was barely adequate recognition of the club’s depth to he early excellence and later against the odds example.

He remains only the second player after Arthur Chandler to figure in the club’s top ten records for both appearances and goalscoring. Mike’s spell with Nuneaton was brief and he subsequently ran pubs in Narborough and Littlethorpe before moving into the newsagents business, latterly in Enderby. His nephew Ian, began a senior career with Mansfield Town in 1986.

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Michael David Stringfellow
  • Position: Forward / Winger
  • Date of Birth: 27.01.1943
  • Birthplace: Kirkby in Ashfield,
  • Nation: England
  • Caps / Goals: –
  • LCFC
  • Period: 1962-1975
  • League Games / Goals: 315/82
  • Links
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Graham Cross

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Falling just short of Adam Black’s club record League appearance total, but bettering his aggregate tally to stand, with 599 senior games for City, as Leicester’s most consistent servant ever, Graham also proved himself one of the most versatile over his sixteen seasons.

It was often said that his regular switching of position cost him an England place (especially in the days when little premium was put on zonal adaptability), but Graham’s failure to add senior international honors to his eleven Under 23 caps nevertheless seemed more a case of culpable oversight on the part of the national teams management.

As early as 1962/63, Matt Gillies tactical interchanging Frank McLintock and Graham was a match winning ploy, though a later tendency to shuttle Graham between defense, midfield and the striking line could occasionally be put down to desperate expedience. Eventually, when the twin center-back game became the norm, it was in defense that Graham settled if that’s the right word, given his relentless energy and enthusiasm.

Four Cup Final appearances, a Second Division Championship medal and a 1973 testimonial game were the tangible memories jostle of the 18 year old playing like a veteran in City’s gallant European exit in Madrid, of the cool back heel that won a Cup replay at Blackburn, of the hat-trick against Forest consisting of one of them, two for us of numerous busting forays forward, and of countless opposing strikers cowed into frustration with Graham’s sturdy shadowing and solid tackle.

His football prowess, several times coveted by Brian Clough, probably cost him a much more successful county cricket career than he actually managed (as, naturally a Leicestershire all-rounder, but the winter game kept a hold on him for some time after his final departure from Filbert Street.

He was ever-present at Brighton & Hove Albion’s runaway rise from Third to Second Division in 1977, and then inspired Preston North End to take the same promotional route a year later. It was wholly unfitting that when he answered Lincoln’s emergency call in 1979, even Graham couldn’t save them from relegation.

A spell coaching and then being the manager of Hinckley Athletic marked the final phase of his soccer involvement. Sadly, Graham was back in the news in February 1993, when being jailed for 9 months for theft and false accounting, after utilising Post Office funds in his care to cover serious gambling debts

FACTFILE

  • Full Name: Graham Frederick Cross
  • Position: Defender
  • Date of Birth: 15.11.1943
  • Birthplace: Leicester
  • Nation: England
    • U.23 Caps: 11, Debut: 1963 v. Yugoslavia
  • Major League Career
    • 1960-76, Leicester City (498/29)
    • 1976-77, Brighton & Hove Albion (46/3)
    • 1975-76, Chesterfield, on loan, (12/0)
    • 1977-78, Preston North End (19/0)
    • 1978-79, Lincoln City (19/0)

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