CamdenNewJournal

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Tears, jumping, dancing… Leicester City finally did it

Bloomsbury councillor Rishi Madlani explains why this will be the only time you'll see him with a blue rosette

20 May, 2021 — By Cllr Rishi Madlani

Foxes fanatic Cllr Rishi Madlani

The last time Leicester got to a cup final was the League Cup in 2000.

You had to go back to 1969 to find Leicester’s last participation in an FA Cup Final and any Leicester fan worth their salt would tell you of the unwanted record of being the most unlucky losers – having lost the most cup finals (four!) of any club in the illustrious history of the FA Cup.

Football fans of all teams know the slightly manic and worrying rush about whether you’re going to get tickets for certain away games and especially for big one-offs like a cup final.

With only 6,000 tickets available to fans of each club I knew my prospects of seeing my beloved Leicester City in their first FA cup final were looking bleak despite being a season ticket holder and as we got closer to cup final day I made my peace with having to watch at home.

Last time I had the opportunity to write for the CNJ I was paying tribute to our owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, sadly lost in a tragic disaster, and I am proud to update that his son, Aiyawatt, affectionate known to the fans as Top has continued in the vein of generosity and thoughtfulness to fans.

All season ticket holders and members received a cup final pack containing face paint, pin badges and the only blue rosette my Bloomsbury constituents will ever see me wearing!

Cup final day build up starts hours before the game with special programming put on about previous cup finals and the routes of the finalists to the final.

Being the first FA Cup final in my life I was keen to at least try and get some feeling of build up and was delighted that some members of Foxes Pride were able to gather in King’s Cross ahead of the game (outside within COVID-19 rules) and create some vaguely normal pre-match feeling.

This was the first game with a significant number of fans being allowed back into Wembley and we could see what impact the return of fans made – finally a non-artificial atmosphere – and what a difference it did make.

The common wisdom is that Cup finals are normally cagey affairs, both sides terrified of making mistakes and this game started no differently. Both sides clearly feeling each other out and trying to test each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Leicester took an early blow with the loss of Jonny Evans, our Northern Irish centre back and defensive lynchpin in recent seasons and Mount continued to try and stretch the defence. Chelsea undoubtedly ended the first half the better side and the Leicester team looked glad to make it to half time with the scores level.

The second half was a vastly different affair – both managers had clearly challenged their players to come out and play more expansively and we thankfully saw a much more open game.

The story of the second half pivoted around 3 key events – firstly, the Worldie from Youri Tielemans, Leicester’s midfield creator who had really come into his own in the second half.

This was a goal worthy of winning any cup final and every time I’ve seen it replayed I’ve felt the same emotion of unadulterated joy (I may have even cried first time!).

If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth rewatching for the mastery and also to appreciate the reaction of the fans with limbs flailing everywhere! Next up, the save, Kasper Schmeichel had already made a neat save from a header from former Leicester left back Chilwell but the second save from Mount was a beauty to behold, I think everyone watching thought it was going in but Kasper pulled out a one handed save to maintain Leicester’s lead.

Finally, the VAR decision. Watching an own goal bounce in from your Club Captain who had put in a heroic cameo in the dying minutes of the Cup Final was not the way the Leicester fans or indeed the romantics wanted to see the game end. Fortunately for Leicester, the officials in Stockley Park spotted a very slight, but nonetheless offside in the build up and the goal was chalked off.

Cue scenes of joy and delight from the Leicester faithful – the millstone around the necks of every fan of being the unlucky losers of Cup Finals being lifted. Grown men and women crying, dancing and jumping. The fairytale had come true.

I would be remiss to not mention the implication of this game in the context of the short-lived European Super League.

This victory was a moral victory against the so-called Top 6 who had tried to further damage the meritocracy of the English league system.

This is only a victory of hearts and a further disruption of the Champions League places is the one that is needed to put a final nail in the coffin of the ill conceived project.

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