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Kante strike sees Leicester edged out by Chelsea

Leicester City 1:2 Chelsea

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Goals from Morata and Kante were enough to ease Champions Chelsea to victory over City at the KPS on Saturday.

With Okazaki suffering from jet lag after international duty, Slimani made the starting line-up, the only change to Craig Shakespeare’s side. Adrien ’14 seconds’ Silva watched from the stands, and Danny Drinkwater from the Chelsea bench.
In a lively opening spell Morata saw his shot saved by Schmeichel, while Vardy’s low cross from the left flashed across the goalmouth with no blue shirt on hand to apply a finishing touch.
Vardy then chased down Courtois after the Chelsea keeper took a poor first touch to a back pass, but the clearance was made with inches to spare.
Chelsea then settled into their stride and City had some defending to do, with Morgan producing a couple of vital blocks to keep them at bay.

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In the 25th minute City broke upfield and Mahrez set up Vardy for a shot across Courtois that beat the far post by a couple of yards.
Morgan then produced another good block to deny Morata.
Chances were rare for City, with Chelsea dominating possession,  but they should have taken the lead five minutes before the break.
Mahrez raced upfield, with Vardy unmarked on his left, but as the Chelsea defence caught up he opted to pass to Slimani whose shot was brilliantly saved by Courtois.
A minute later this missed opportunity was compounded when Chelsea took the lead.
Azpilicueta delivered an inch perfect cross from the right and Morata rose above Morgan to plant a header past Schmeichel.
As City pressed forward looking for an instant reply James had a shot blocked by Bakayoko.
In a sudden heavy shower, the last action of the half saw Schmeichel save a well-struck Moses effort.

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Craig Shakespeare had a reshuffle at the break, bringing Gray and King on for Slimani and Albrighton, but City went two goals down five minutes into the second half.
Kante was given an acre of space to line up a 25 yard shot which Schmeichel saw late, and it crept beyond his reach into the bottom left hand corner.
City had a big job on now, and Chelsea were content to sit back and let them try to pick their way through with everyone behind the ball.
After much sideways passing to little effect City got a break on the hour when Courtois clumsily upended Vardy in the box.
Although it looked as though Mahrez wanted to claim the spot kick, before James dissuaded him, Vardy placed the ball and crashed it home.

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With City pressing forward in search of an equaliser referee Lee Mason then angered the home crowd following a clash of heads between James and Willian, that looked like a foul on the City player. Not only did Mason proceed with a drop ball, but he told Vardy it couldn’t be contested, somewhat exceeding his juristiction.
Iheanacho then replaced James as City looked to strengthen their forward line.
Although Willian went close with a couple of efforts, City piled on the pressure with time running out.
Vardy was inches short of getting his head to a King cross, and the Chelsea defence dealt with crosses from Fuchs and Gray.

The final whistle heralded a third defeat in four games which, despite the toughness of the opening fixtures, was not a good start to the season.

Craig Shakespeare summed up:  “When we got back to 2-1 we just couldn’t find that final bit that was required to get something from the game and I just feel at the moment the big moments aren’t going our way.”

With City at the wrong end of the table, some big moments need to start going their way soon.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James (Iheanacho 78), Albrighton (King 45), Slimani (Gray 45), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Chilwell, Hamer, Amartey, Ulloa.
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Moses (Zappacosta 74), Kanté, Bakayoko, Alonso, Pedro (Willian 63), Fàbregas (Hazard 78), Morata. Subs Not Used: Caballero, Drinkwater, Batshuayi, Christensen.
Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 30,923.

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Leicester City clinch the Premier League title

Leicester City completed possibly the most unlikely story in the long history of English football by clinching the Premier League title on Monday night.

The 5,000-1 outsiders won the league title for the first time in their 132-year history when Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw with Spurs at Stamford Bridge.


Eden Hazard’s equaliser in west London sparked a wild party in the streets of Leicester that lasted all night, focussed on the Clock Tower  and the Kng Power Stadium. …

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The first team squad watched the Chelsea v Spurs together, assembling at Jamie Vardy’s Melton home. By the end of the evening, he was, indeed, having a party.

player party

Enjoy today City fans everywhere, we have waited a long, long time and been through so much. This is beyond our wildest dreams.


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Foxes devour Swans to go 8 points clear

Leicester City 4:0 Swansea City

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City took a step closer to the title with a convincing 4-0 victory over Swansea at the KPS on Sunday to go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with just three games to play…

With Vardy suspended, Claudio Ranieri played Ulloa and Okazaki up front , with Schlupp in for Albrighton.
Although Swansea were the first to deliver a ball into the box, it came to nothing, and City were then gifted an 11th minute lead.
Williams’ slightly leisurely clearance struck Mahrez and the Algerian international showed great composure to finish, with Fabianski perhaps expecting a curling effort into the far corner, Mahrez simply fired it in at the near post.
It was the start City needed to calm any nerves, and they never looked back.
With City’s midfield bossing the play, Fuchs and Okazaki both threatened the Swans goal, before City extended their lead on the half hour.
After a battle between Morgan and Routledge out on the left ended with a free-kick to City, Drinkwater delivered a perfect ball into the area for Ulloa to nod home from 6 yards.

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It was tempting to think ‘game over’ at this stage, but Swansea enjoyed their best spell of the game up to half-time.
But of the two free-kicks their pressure gained, one was headed narrowly over by Fernandez and the other, a shot from Sigurdsson, may have been heading for the post when Schmiechel tipped it round. And so City took a precious 2-0 lead in with them at the break.

Swansea had an early chance in the second half when a well-placed Ayew failed to test Schmeichel with a weak header, but it was all over by the hour mark.
Schlupp charged after a Schmeichel clearance down the left, beating two defenders and cutting in on goal. He unselfishly attempted to square to Ulloa, but Williams blocked. However, the ball fell nicely for Schlupp to cross again and Ulloa slid the ball in at the far post, sparking huge celebrations.

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Barring an Ayew header into the side-netting, it was one-way traffic now, with City in irresistible form.
Schlupp forced a fine save from Fabianski and miscued a couple of other efforts.
Okazaki fired a shot over the bar, and then King (on for Ulloa who picked up a knock to his back) tested Fabianski again with a low shot.
City’s fourth goal arrived with five minutes remaining. Gray went on a run down the right, and just kept running. At one point it was almost comedic with four Swansea defenders chasing after him. After cutting in, the youngster chipped a ball to the far, post, King headed it back across goal, but Gray’s first time effort was pushed out by Fabianski… only as far as Albrighton who gleefully rifled it home, having only been on the pitch for three minutes.

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City ended the day eight points clear, knowing that two more wins would seal the club’s first ever title. With every week bringing a new landmark, they now can’t finish outside the top two and, later that evening, Riyad Mahrez was crowned PFA Player of the Season.

Speculation about how City would cope without Vardy had been answered with four goals:
“It was a magnificent performance,” said Claudio. “Without Jamie, everyone else had to give that bit more. It was great to see my players fight. We had some difficulties, but everybody made sure we had a good match. Now it is important for us to make our dreams a reality. Now is the right moment to give everything.”

* Credit where it is due: maybe it was the light and shade effect but referee Mark Clattenburg appeared to come up with the perfect refereeing performance.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Schlupp (Albrighton 82), Mahrez, Okazaki (Gray 73), Ulloa (King 79). Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.
Swansea: Fabianski, Taylor, Williams, Rangel, Fernandez, Britton, Cork, Fer (Paloschi 46), Routledge (Montero 46), Ayew, Sigurdsson (Ki 75). Subs Not Used: Amat, Nordfeldt, Naughton, Barrow.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 31,962.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.


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Ulloa rescues a point for ten man Leicester

Leicester City 2:2 West Ham United 

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Leonardo Ulloa equalised from the spot against West Ham with seconds remaining of a game wrecked by referee Jon Moss at the KPS on Sunday…

On the back of five straight wins Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged starting line-up, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start.
Schmeichel pulled off a fantastic save, tipping Kouyate’s header against the right hand post. The ball went across the face of the goal and looked sure to be converted by Emenike, before it hit the other post and landed safely in the City keeper’s grasp.

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After this early warning that West Ham hadn’t come to roll over for the league leaders City began to press forward.
Huth got his head to an Albrighton free-kick, but beat the right hand post by a couple of yards, and then Drinkwater fired an effort from range over the bar.
City then took a 19th minute lead after a sweeping upfield move. From a Schmeichel throw Mahrez sent Kanté on a charge down the middle, and he set up Vardy in on the left for a great first touch and cracking shot past Adrian.
Ten minutes after his goal Vardy was booked for a fair challenge on Kouyate, a decision by referee Jon Moss that would have big repercussions.
In an increasingly tight and physical encounter up to the break, Reid, Noble and Payet were all yellow carded.

Slaven Bilić brought Carroll on for the second half, setting up a Clash of the Titans, with Huth performing magnificently in City’s defence.
From a Payet corner Carroll headed well wide, and then at the other end Huth headed a Fuchs cross over.
Schlupp replaced Albrighton in the 54th minute and City came agonisingly close to extending their lead when a cross/shot from Okazaki evaded Vardy by half a yard at the far post.
The game then dramatically turned on a 58th minute incident.
Vardy and Ogbonna chased a ball into the penalty area, with the West Ham defenders hand on his shoulder Vardy appeared to cut across him and went flying.
Referee Moss judged it to be a dive, worthy of a yellow card and City’s leading scorer was dismissed on the strength of an earlier yellow that shouldn’t have happened.

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With the crowd in uproar Ulloa came on for Okazaki and City prepared to dig in and defend the lead.
Reid connected with a Payet cross from the right, but sent his effort into the side-netting. City were defending stoically, but no outlet ball to Vardy was seeing the pressure build. There was a nervy wait after Morgan was booked for fouling Carroll in the perfect spot for a Payet free-kick. After Amartey replaced Mahrez, Payet sent his free-kick sailing into the Family Stand, to general sighs of relief.
But under relentless West Ham pressure City finally cracked with five minutes remaining.
After constant wrestling matches in both areas referee Moss decided to award a soft one for Morgan putting his arms around Reid, no doubt influenced by a deputation of West Ham players urging him to be vigilant before the ball was even delivered.
Carroll sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his spot-kick, the first goal City had conceded since March 1st.
Like buses, the next one arrived two minutes later and this time there were no arguments as Cresswell latched onto a half clearance on the edge of the area and fired a magnificent shot inches under the bar.
City might have forgotten what it was like to go behind in a game, but they reacted well and, combined with another bizarre decision by the ref, managed to rescue a point.
Into time-added-on Huth was wrestled over by Ogbonna in a similar manner to incident that led to Morgan conceding a penalty, but Moss didn’t want to know, leading to prolonged chants of: “2-1, to the referee.”  

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Minutes later a challenge that looked a lot less like a penalty, as Schlupp and Carroll came together right on the edge of the area, saw Moss pointing to the spot.
With Mahrez and Vardy both absent, Ulloa stepped up to fire his spot-kick past Adrian sparking emotional scenes around the KPS.
Referee Moss was resoundingly booed off as his escort from the pitch had to avoid angry players from both sides, but Claudio Ranieri would not be drawn to comment: “I judge my players and not the referee. The referee watched this, it’s OK. If some players don’t play well or make mistakes, I speak with them and we try to improve their performance. The referee is not my matter.”
After a very tough afternoon City emerged 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with four games remaining. All eyes will now be on Stoke v Spurs tonight.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Mahrez (Amartey 78), Albrighton (Schlupp 54), Okazaki (Ulloa 59), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, King, Gray.
West Ham: Adrian, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Obiang (Carroll 46), Noble (Lanzini 63), Kouyate, Emenike, Payet, Moses (Valencia 72), Antonio. Subs Not Used: Randolph, Tomkins, Collins, Byram.

Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 32,104.


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Mahrez winner at Palace keeps the dream alive

Crystal Palace 0:1 Leicester City

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Leicester went 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with their third consecutive 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri was able to name an unchanged line-up against a Palace side who had yet to win in 2016, but the Eagles carved out an early chance.
Bolasie’s turn and low shot didn’t unduly test Schmeichel.
City had a more clear cut chance in the 10th minute when a superb Drinkwater ball sent Mahrez in on goal, but outrushing Hennessey blocked with his legs and Dann tidied up the rebound.
In a good spell for Palace, Bolasie had a shot blocked by Morgan and then he sent a dangerous cross over for Zaha, but he failed to find the target at the far post.
But it was City who delighted their followers with a 34th minute lead.
Another slide rule ball from Drinkwater sent Vardy in on the left, and his low cross square across the penalty area was met with a cool side-foot finish from Mahrez, who had timed his run perfectly.

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Another Bolasie shot then deflected off Morgan but Schmeichel reacted well to save with an outstretched leg.
The last chance of the half came when Albrighton cut in from the left and fired in a shot that forced a fine save from Hennessey.

Alan Pardew brought on Kelly and Sako for the second half, while an unchanged City went close though the lively Okazaki early on.
Schmeichel had a busier half, punching away a Cabaye free-kick, and saving a goal-bound Sako effort as Palace pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

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But City should surely have had a penalty in the 80th minute when Dann not only pulled, but completely removed Huth’s shirt. But there was to be no comfort zone for City in a nervy closing spell.
Schmeichel saved from Sako, Cabaye went close with another effort and then the City keeper knocked the ball against substitute Ulloa’s head, with both thankful to see it fly wide of the post.
Delaney denied Vardy a goal with a very timely challenge before the most heart-in-mouth moment arrived in stoppage time.
Former-fox Delaney got on to the end of a Dann’s header, but his shot struck the bar.

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It was Palace’s last chance, and the final whistle saw City 8 points clear at the top of the table, sparking a remarkable 20 minute rendition of: “We’re going to win the league.” by a delirious away section that ignored tannoy pleas for them to make their way out of the ground.
There is still a long way to go in this title run-in but this wonderful City side continue to hurdle every challenge.
Claudio Ranieri waxed lyrical: “Sometimes I’ve said we are at the last turn and now we are on the final, home straight. Now I want to see my horses, how they run.”

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare (Kelly 46), Jedinak (Gayle 78), Ledley, Cabaye, Zaha, Bolasie, Adebayor (Sako 46). Subs Not Used: Speroni, Campbell, Mutch, Puncheon.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Kanté, Drinkwater, Mahrez (Schlupp 85), Albrighton, Okazaki (Ulloa 76), Vardy (Amartey 90). Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Inler, Gray.

Referee: M Jones. Attendance: 25,041.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber


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Ulloa raises the roof with late winner for Leicester

Leicester City 1:0 Norwich City

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City struggled to break down a Norwich side fighting for their Premier League lives, but they got there in the end with an 89th minute Ulloa goal…

Claudio Ranieri was forced into making one change to his side with Amartey making his debut at right-back, replacing the suspended Simpson.

The Norwich game plan soon unfolded, they were defensive minded and also determined to impose themselves physically with some early heavy challenges which twice left Albrighton on the turf. But they did also look keen to break forward when it was on. They were first to threaten when Schmeichel had to be alert to beat Jerome to a Redmond through-ball.
At the other end City were struggling to turn possession into chances with crosses being dealt with by the Canaries’ aerial supremacy.
A Huth header over the bar was the nearest they got in the early stages.
Vardy then got in down the right and pulled the ball back for Okazaki, but his back-heeled effort was blocked by Bennett.
As City continued to press Mahrez sent Albrighton in down the right and his hard, low cross was blocked at the near post by Martin, trickling 6 inches wide of goal. The Algerian international then ghosted past two defenders before having a shot blocked, before Albrighton’s follow up effort was also charged down by the yellow and green wall.

Leicester City v Norwich City, FA Premier League, 27 February 2016

Naismith was then denied by a superb Morgan tackle, before play swept back up-field and City gained a free-kick out on the left when Okazaki was bundled over. Albrighton’s swinging effort eluded Huth’s head and went narrowly wide of the far post.
The visitors, with just one point from their last six games, should have taken a priceless lead as they ended the half with a good spell. Jerome did everything right leaping above City’s defence to meet a Brady corner from the right at the near post, but his glancing header didn’t have quite enough on it and it flashed across goal.
Schmeichel then blocked a well-struck Redmond effort in the last action of the half.

City had the first chance of the second half when Mahrez was tripped on the edge of the area. Drinkwater set up Vardy with the free-kick, but his low shot was too centrally placed and thumped into the chest of Ruddy.
In what was now a very tight game neither goalkeeper was seeing much action. Ruddy made another save from Albrighton, but the whole stadium seemed to be acutely aware that the minutes were ticking down.
With just over twenty minutes remaining Ranieri made a couple of changes. The slightly limping Kanté was replaced by King, while Okazaki made way for Schlupp, making his first appearance since December.
Although that gave City some fresh impetus down the left, Norwich stood firm and it looked as though the game was drifting towards a 0-0 draw.
Redmond sent one effort narrowly wide for the Canaries late on, but it was City who would be able to summon up that something extra in the 89th minute.

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Mahrez fed Albrighton down the right, and the winger delivered a hard, low ball. Vardy, at full stretch, could only get a toe to it, but that touch diverted it away from the defender and into the path of substitute Ulloa, who slid in for a glorious and vital winner.
A huge roar of relief greeted Ulloa’s goal, but City still had to get through 4 minutes of time added on, which were mercifully drama-free. The place was absolutely buzzing at the final whistle.
A delighted Claudio Ranieri commented: “The conclusion I have drawn from this is that my players believe until the end. That, for me, is very important. If the other teams start to win, they can win all the matches. But for us, the next match is always the final match. That is our mentality.”
Ulloa’s priceless goal meant City went five points clear at the top of the Premier League, while Norwich were left with nothing for a huge effort. Like City last year, if they could produce more performances of this intensity, they should be able to survive.
For Leicester the incredible dream continues…

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey (Ulloa 78), Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté (King 69), Albrighton, Mahrez, Okazaki (Schlupp 69), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Gray, Dyer.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Naismith (Jarvis 82), Howson, Jerome (Bamford 90), Brady, Klose (Mbokani 90), Redmond, Bennett, Pinto, Tettey. Subs Not Used: Rudd, Mulumbu, Olsson, O’Neil.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick. Attendance: 32,114.


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FOX 197 – The Leicester City fanzine – in the shops now.

The FOX 197 – the February edition – is in the shops now…

Our third all-colour issue is now in the shops, or you can buy it online.

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Featuring: our latest Fox Gallery caricature – N’Golo Kante; an interview with Alan Bennett – the club secretary from 1979 to 1994 takes us behind the scenes at Filbert Street; Fully Programmed from Christmas 1994; Fox Diary – the Premier League adventure continues; the latest from the Foxes Trust; What’s happening on #lcfc Twitter, mostly starring Christian Fuchs; Rewind goes back to April 2015; Foxed in the Head – on pies, love and Revolver bags; former Chairman Andrew Taylor is our guest columnist; John Hutchinson continues his series on City and World War II; our new series The History of Leicester City in 100 Objects continues; your letters and Bentley’s Roof; Parting Shots our favourite photos of the last month; and the latest doings of Fanatical Frank…

all for considerably less than a pint…


Extract from the Alan Bennett Interview…

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FOX: How did you go about deciding on ticket prices? Did you compare with what the rest of the division was charging?

AB: To a large extent. You were always torn between making as much revenue as you could to keep the club going and maybe even get a transfer kitty going, because the TV money wasn’t flying around in those days – and putting prices beyond what people could afford, or wanted to pay. I think we probably got ours about right, near that happy medium.

FOX: We have a vision of matchdays where the turnstiles are closed about ten past three and huge bags of money are taken into a room where someone spends the rest of the game counting it out. Is that about right?

AB: Well, nearly. You’d keep a stile open in each stand for the late comers up to half-time. Most of the turnstiles took cash. Each one had a meter which would be read by the turnstile supervisor before they opened so they knew what the starting number was. You were only allowed one price for each turnstile, which could cause some confusion with families trying to get in together. The turnstile reader would then take a closing number. Say, to keep it easy, 500 people had gone in and paid a pound we needed £500 from the turnstile operator. Now, the turnstile operator doesn’t know his starting and closing numbers, he just counts it, bags it and hands it in to the cash office in the Main Stand. We know he should have £500 so when we count it and it is £497 then we say, ‘Okay, thanks!’
If someone comes in with £450 then he gets sent away to count it again. I mean, sometime sthey came in with £505, errors can happen. With 40 stiles, 37 or 38 of them were near enough. The other two or three, 9 times out of 10 they’d come back with the right money. Nearly always they were honest mistakes, if the same chap did it a few times then you got a bit suspicious.
By about half-time everything would be bagged up along with the programme money and, it used to be a taxi but ended up with Securicor, it would be sent off to the bank which would be opened up specially. By the end of the game it would be safe in the bank. They’d count it on Monday morning and send us a statement, which we had to accept, but usually it would be within ten quid, which wasn’t bad for tens of thousands.

FOX: Was there any reason it changed from a taxi to securiocor!?

AB: Erm.. it got a bit dicey once, I think!
Chelsea also used a taxi, even if was a 60,000 crowd. The only difference at Chelsea was we had a couple of bank clerks who would watch the first half. Then we would use one of two branches in London and only the clerks knew which one we were going to use on any given afternoon.

FOX: So the official attendance was based on the meter figures?

AB: Yes. These days I think they base the attendances on tickets sold, but back then it was the actual number in the ground. Apart from anyone who had jumped over. There wasn’t much we could do about that.


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