It was exactly three decades ago on August 8th, 1985 that I bought my first ever Leicester City replica shirt for the sale price of £5 from a local sports shop. The shirt had already become obsolete at that point but that kind of thing didn’t register then and besides I bought the new home shirt for double the price only a few days later.
30 years on I tried to take a similar photo of myself at the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre, albeit one with a slight Japanese twist. The price of cakes is very high here plus it’s a bit sad to buy yourself a birthday cake so that has been replaced by a bowl of (much cheaper!) udon noodles known as kitsune which just happens to also mean fox!
With my dad being a Norwich City fan, this shirt was maybe more appealing to me than most as a child in the 1980’s as it was the colours of his club yet quite clearly belonging to the team I had been watching for all of about 15 months at this point!
I can only recall one older kid having the same shirt in my school and it’s rarity and exclusivity led to it often getting referred to by my friends and I in the decades afterwards. However, it was most often referenced in relation to it being the most unsuccessful shirt (results-wise!) that Leicester City have ever had.
This Ind Coope sponsored green and gold away shirt is perhaps the most famous of City strips from the second coming of Admiral (1983-1988) but was so unlucky (though not for our opponents!) that, according to ‘Got Not Got! The Lost World of Leicester City‘, the players eventually refused to wear it and an old England shirt away shirt had to be rebadged. That proved just as unlucky so maybe it wasn’t the shirt! Given that it was worn by the likes of Lineker, Smith, Lynex, Ramsay, Peake, O’Neill and co it is something of a mystery that we just couldn’t win when wearing this away strip.
22 years after it was ditched by the players, and the shirt was brought back into the mainstream when Leicester rock band Kasabian burst onto the scene in the mid-2000’s. At a homecoming gig at the De Montfort Hall in December 2007 front-man Tom Meighan wore the shirt in what the NME described as a real Roy Of The Rovers moment.
Classic retro shirts were popular in the 2000’s and eventually the club shop brought back the unlucky shirt as part of their retro collection (alongside the 1997, 1982, 1975 and 1971 ones) and though I tried, I just could not get hold of one in my size over the years as they were snapped up very quickly by fans.
I remember having an online conversation with The Fox fanzine editor Gary Silke about one fetching £114 on ebay and that didn’t even have the sponsor on much like the ones worn by Tom and I. Eventually in January this year, when I went to the home game in the FA Cup against Newcastle, I saw both the 1983-85 home and away shirts on sale in the club at £35 a piece. After some slight indecision on my part I eventually parted with my cash and was even wearing the shirt when I went to the BBC Radio Leicester studios a couple of days later to catch up with Ian Stringer and meet City legend Matt Elliott.
An infamous shirt if ever there was one. City never won a game in this shirt yet remarkably it is recognised by many Leicester fans as a classic, maybe due to its 0% points return on the field!
Click here to see ‘My Leicester City Memorabilia‘
Click here to see ‘My Leicester City Replica Shirt Collection’