Day 18 – Birmingham-Leicester-Burton!
Birmingham to Leicester is a beautiful ride on a bike. You can cruise along on the flat surface like Nigel Mansel. How do I describe it in the way other people have described things they’ve been happy with just to put it into context for you?
It’s like your kid doing their homework and eating their vegetables without whingeing, It’s like Peter Ridsdale leaving your football club, it’s like Rosie Webster returning to Corrie, it’s like snogging the barmaid and not getting Covid, in fact after last week it’s like putting your wrong regular numbers down on your Euromillions slip only to win the lottery by accident. Superb work Leicester.
I did have a sneaky look at Welford Road, home to Leicester Tigers. And boy is it a smart rugby ground.
Leicester has 2 lush grounds, one of which I am now very familiar with, the King Power stadium.
Lush stadium in terms of they haven’t gone overboard but they’ve kept it modern. Enclosed but with a touch of class on the West Stand with a huge glass fox motive that is the clubs crest emblazoned on the front.
The colour scheme is there but what I truly like about the ground (and previous readers to my blog will know I’m fond of a clubs colours on the stadium) is that they’ve bought some blue and white cones instead of the orange ones to dot about. Premiership champions winning money well spent 👏
The superstore is huge, with stars such as Jamie Vardy and Katherine Schmeichel prominent figures above the entry. Marketing well done. So meticulous are the staff making the merchandise presentable to customers, the girl from the club shop with a little mix face mask couldn’t take a picture of me outside the ground because she was too busy folding a jumper.
The ground has a memorial garden outside which is a nice touch. When I die, I want to be buried on the goal line at the Cardiff City Stadium, so I can scare the opposition keeper into conceding goals. Which would echo my career as a goalkeeper. Not just the conceding goals bit, but just like a ghost, the ball used to go through me every shot. In fact here’s a little known fact about me and my affinity with football, I would have actually made it as a Premier League goalkeeper in the 90’s if not for 2 things.
1. I stripped the ligament muscle from the bone in my foot whilst challenging for a ball. It turned 90 degrees. Whilst recovering, I put so much weight on the other that I did pretty much the same to that one the first time I took a goal kick after I recovered.
2. I was sh*t
I loved the King Power, not flashy, just right for them. It’s no Etihad in its grandeur but that’s Leicester City. They are very family orientated and the owners have seen to that. With the devastating events of already a stadium that has seen so much in so much time, heroes to heartbreak, triumph to turmoil. It’s very rare such a stadium has so much alternate history in its first 18 years.
Before the King Power was Filbert Street, take in this little excerpt i found on a website;
“Some parts of the ground – the East and North Stands in particular – were also somewhat outdated, which led the manager, Martin O’Neill to joke that when he showed Filbert Street to new signings he led them backwards out of the players tunnel to prevent them from seeing the East Stand.”
Like a teenager not letting his mother look in the ‘top drawer’ of his bedside cabinet!
Leicester were very lucky with their new owner. As a Cardiff city fan in the last 20 years I’ve seen Sam Hammam, Peter Ridsdale and Vincent Tan, who’s redeemed himself by changing back to blue from red yes, but I can only imagine how many Jaegerbombs it took to come up with that initial idea.
I’m going to speak candidly now so buckle up.
Leicester had, from 2010, a guy called Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha own the club. He first went to watch Leicester in the 1997 league Cup final against Middlesbrough and obviously fell in love with the club. Since then they cultivated a modest, honest policy in terms of running the club. As I said, family orientated with an almost unrepeatable, with the down to earth nature of the club, premier league trophy to boot. The Blackburn Rovers of the Millennia.
The unthinkable happened in 2018. Leaving the ground from the pitch after a match in a helicopter, it tragically crashed in the car park next to the stadium. I can only imagine the Leicester fans are glad the family have continued running the club with Vichais memory serving as precedent to what they are trying to achieve.
Incredible legacy he left. The club have imotilised him and said legacy on the stadium walls. RIP Vichai.
Leicester, you’re a brilliant club, it was an absolute pleasure.
Making my way to Burton Albion however, wasn’t. My calf went about 17 miles before the Pirelli Stadium. I think with 1 rest day in 3 1/2 weeks I’m crying out for a little rest on my body. I’m no 18 year old and have only been on a bike once in 25 years before this when my mate stumpy said we should cycle to the pub. So I’m gonna attempt the Albion, Derby and the Forest tomorrow then rest my calf and I desperately need to take the bike in for a service the day after. Because one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen gave way to me and a smile at a junction earlier and as I winked, as a thanks obviously, then peddled on, the back wheel bloody fell off. Yes, I know!
But around 113 kilometres done so we are getting there in the name of mental health awareness.
Your continued donations, including Jim, Elli, Matt and anonymous’ mean the world.
Keep shouting out about us, together we can help erase the stigma of mental health.
Seriously we can.