Video of the Day: Leatherhead vs Leicester City, January 1975
This coming weekend sees the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, so it’s only right that this week’s daily videos feature matches from the past from this round of the competition, and we kick it all off with a match from forty-one years ago that gripped the imagination of the country – non-league Leatherhead against First Division Leicester City. It’s now been just over fifty years since Leatherhead last won a league title, the Athenian League First Division of 1964. The club’s run in the 1974/75 FA Cup came from nowhere. The club had never got past the qualifying stages of the competition prior to wins against Croydon, Hornchurch and Dagenham, which took them to a Fourth Qualifying Round match against Walton & Hersham, who two years previously had caused a surprise of their own in beating a Brighton & Hove Albion team then managed by Brian Clough by four goals to nil at The Goldstone Ground, which Leatherhead won by seven goals to one.
In the First Round of the competition Leatherhead beat Bishop’s Stortford after a replay, before beating Colchester United in the Second Round in a match scarred by fighting in the crowd. In the build-up to a Third Round draw away to Brighton, the Albion manager Peter Taylor – who had stayed on at the club after Clough’s departure – stated, perhaps unwisely, that his team, which was pushing for promotion from the Third Division, had “an excellent chance to do well this season after we’ve swatted away those minnows.” Big mistake. A Chris Kelly goal twenty minutes from the end sent Brighton out of the cup at the hands of non-league opposition for the second time in three years. After the match, Kelly, a little the worse for wear, earned himself the nickname of The Leatherhead Lip after proclaiming that, “Leicester are rubbish. We’ll stuff them in the next round.” Fighting talk, perhaps, but – although they’d only been beaten by Liverpool in the semi-final of the competition a year before – at the time of the match Leicester City were one place off the bottom of the First Division.
At the time, clubs could switch the venue of matches should they wish, and Leatherhead took up that opportunity, opting to play the match at Filbert Street rather than at their own, rather more modest, Fetcham Grove home. By this time, Kelly was a fully-fledged celebrity, having appeared on Nationwide and Tomorrow’s World, and would go on to receive a name-check on the back page of a newspaper in the television comedy series Porridge, which would be broadcast later that year. And on the day of the Fourth Round of the competition the cameras of the BBC’s Match of the Day would be present at Filbert Street for a match that didn’t disappoint in the entertainment stakes, even though the result didn’t quite turn out as the self-aggrandising Kelly had so confidently predicted. Commentary comes from John Motson.
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