Date:Friday January 6 2006
In their eight previous FA Cup ties (one was replayed), Leicester have won once and Spurs have not lost to a team from a lower division in this competition for 16 seasons according to Declan Mulcahy on the Spurs Odyssey website. Leicester's only triumph was in 1974 when a Steve Earle goal squeezed them through 1-0 at Filbert Street and allowed City to go on to a semi-final against Liverpool. It was Spurs' legendary manager Bill Nicholson's last FA Cup match in charge. City will be hoping for a decent crowd, Spurs having reportedly sold their allocation of tickets but the attendance won't go close to matching the 47,298 who crammed into Filbert Street when the sides met for the only time between the Wars, in 1928. This was the biggest ever Filbert Street crowd and the Health and Safety officers of today would have had a nightmare. Hundreds of fans sat on the roof of the stand at the Filbert Street end, others squeezed together all around the touchline perimeter with youngsters having been passed horizontally over people's heads so they could get to the front - and see at all. Sadly for the home fans, Spurs won 3-0. That scoreline was feeble compared with the teams' first meeting, when City were called Leicester Fosse,in January 1914, just before the start of the First World War. Stoodley bagged a hat-trick for City but the match ended 5-5 and Leicester lost the replay 2-0. The 1948 encounter perhaps inspired Leicester. They lost 5-2 at White Hart Lane and Spurs went on to reach the semi-final but the following year, 1949, Leicester made their first appearance in an FA Cup final, the 2-0 defeat by Wolves. So, despite being legendary Cup performers with 14 FA and League Cup finals behindthem, and despite Spurs being the first team in the 20th Century to win the League and Cup double, few realise that Leicester actually appeared in an FA Cup final before them. Leicester, of course, played a key role in Spurs' double achievement by providing their FA Cup final opposition. City had a marvellous side in those days, probably the best in their history, and Spurs' pass-and-move attacking style was folklore. Spurs had won the League Championship in handsome style but Leicester were one of only three sides to beat them at home that season and to this day some will claim they'd have won again but for a devastating injury to their uncompromising full-back Len 'Chopper' Chalmers. The injury added to a catalogue of such happenings over many years which became known as the Wembley Hoodoo. The problem was that substitutes were not allowed at that time and Chalmers, his knee badly hurt in a clash with England's Les Allen, could only hobble along the wing as a passenger. It was a catastrophe for City. Spurs had devastating wingers but Chalmers had his way of dealing with them which even made City fans wince at times. He was Leicester's equivalent of Chelsea's 'Chopper' Harris or Leeds' Norman Hunter but Spurs were just the team to expose any effectively absent 'friend' Leicester still fought themselves to a standstill before England centre-forward Bobby Smith and Welsh wizard Terry Dyson scored two late goals to clinch the match. One of City wing-halves that day was Frank McLintock who played in an awesome City half-back line which included Ian King and Colin Appleton. McLintock went on to complete his own League and Cup double with Arsenal. Leicester became Cup specialists for a while, contesting four major finals in the 60's but they'll not want reminding that their last Wembley appearance of that wonderful era was in 1969, a year when they were also relegated from the top flight. Maybe we'll worry more about that when we get to the final! All told, City have played Spurs on 98 occasions with Spurs winning 49, City 31 and 18 matches being drawn.
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