May 18th 1994 - A Day of Sporting Heroes

Sporting Heroes, the photographic encyclopaedia of sports stars, has just been relaunched.  Visiting the site today, I noticed it was David Speedie's birthday*.

Mr Speedie was, like many a small, ginger-haired gentleman (especially one born in Scotland and raised in Yorkshire), quite an angry fellow.  Winning at all costs appeared to be his motto, and as a teenage Leicester fan, I hated him for a prime example of this:

Speedie dive helps Blackburn defeat Leicester in 1992 Play-off final

Perhaps inevitably, then, Speedie joined Leicester just over a year later.  Now we had to cheer him rather than jeer him, but his performances soon won the crowd over.  The only one I can really remember, though, is this one, from May 18th 1994:



I was there, standing on the Kop, though I shouldn't have been.  I should have been in Walsall, playing cricket for my college 2nd team.  However, I - along with a couple of other lads who also had tickets - persuaded the teachers to let us play for the 3rds, who were at home.

We foolishly thought this would also allow us to take a load of wickets and score a load of runs against weaker opposition.  How wrong we were: Walsall picked a first team left-arm quick bowler, and he took 9 for 7 as we were all out for 31.  Still, we got to the footy with plenty of time!

Watching the video all these years later, I love the rubbishness of everything - the stadium, the kits, the players.  I love that Ian Ormondroyd - a man over 9 feet tall who was somehow incapable of winning a header - shins the opening goal, and then runs into the crowd like a mad preacher.

The Double Decker stand at Filbert Street: so-named because its value was the same as the chocolate bar.

And then Pat Nevin pops up to score a second-half Tranmere equalizer, despite being surrounded by Leicester players.  Perhaps he was too small for them to notice.

Finally, Speedie enters the fray.  Almost immediately, he enters the affray after squashing Tranmere goalie Eric Nixon, but the referee lets him off.

The action gets frenetic as City try desperately to get a winner, and then Nixon flaps at a cross and Speedie puts defender Shaun Garnett under pressure, and suddenly it's 2-1!  Speedie claims the goal, and the crowd dance with delight.

The fun doesn't stop there, though, as in the very dying embers of a fiery match, Speedie is fouled, sparking an enormous brawl.  He gets sent off as a consequence (not shown in the video), but far funnier is goalkeeper Nixon's contribution, as he also gets red-carded for running flat-out into the melee and pole-axing Simon Grayson.

And then Keith Cooper - a proper schoolmaster-referee, not like those hip young things in charge of matches nowadays - blows the final whistle and everyone in Filbert Street does a jig of delight.  It was an evening I shall never forget.

Match report: Leicester City 2-1 Tranmere Rovers | The Independent

After all that excitement, could anything else of note have happened on May 18th, 1994?  Well, according to the History Orb, there were three other significant events: AC Milan beat Barcelona in the European Cup final, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and the Tropical Butterfly Garden opened at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  A truly momentous day.


*He's 52 today, in case you were wondering.
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