By Pete Fincham
Interesting place, Leicester. Spending a weekend there recently at the Worldnet tournament was not much of an eye-opener as it was spent with lots of non-locals. However, I got to know a little about Leicester one day back in 1995 when, as Chairman of WISA, I started running coaches for away games. Leicester was to be the first one we did, and so as a way of making it a bit different for the punters, we decided to leave at around 10am, meaning we would get to Leicester around noon at the latest. We had got information from the club about which pubs we could go into, where we could park, and even told the police we were going up.
Off we set, bright and early. The new generation of away trips had begun! A coach full of lads having a good time. On the coach was even one guy who was to spend two years as a YTS lad for Watford. On arriving at Leicester, we pulled into a side street just off Filbert Street and went in search of the pub the club recommended. No luck there...sorry, no away fans. We tried the other one round the corner that was recommended. No luck there either. What was this place?
In the end, most of the lads commandeered a bus and travelled into town. I stayed put, as it was my deposit on the coach and I was feeling a little protective!
Walking into the ground about two hours later, I got collared! This is a record, I thought. Not only was it before the match, but I hadn't even had a drink.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" asked one irate copper.
"Excuse me?" replied dumbfounded of Watford, "I've only just walked in!"
"I'm not talking about that. Your coach, where was your clearance, where was the escort? You could have been killed!"
A mild over-reaction considering it wasn't the seventies and this was not Shadwell, but I couldn't stop myself from laughing. "You what?"
The policeman made it clear that everything to do with coaches and travel and delusions of grandeur in the Leicester area was his business. As a result, we had not only infringed a few minor laws on football travel, but we had made him look a fool by breaking through his cordon!
He said I could be jailed for my actions so far that day. When I pointed out that that was total crap, and it was the liability of the coach company and not the individual, he got even more upset. For not only had we broken his precious cordon without knowing it, he was talking to someone who knew more about the workings of the English legal system than he did. At this point, he was almost on the verge of exploding and I thought I would miss the game by getting nicked for having a brain. In the end, he ran off, leaving me with some words of wisdom, and I quote:
"You better not show yourself around Leicester for quite a while, mate!"
OH NO! I cannot go back to Leicester! My life is over!
Thought: If you think they're talking crap, tell them!