East Midlands

Leicester is better than Nottingham

The title says it all. Leicester is better than Nottingham and that’s all there is to it. Today, the Leicester Mercury published an opinion piece from budding journalist Catherine Hancock (who I’m sure is lovely by the way) detailing why she thought that Nottingham was the top city in the East Midlands. Of course, you can’t expect me to read that and not respond, so let’s travel through Catherine’s arguments and unhinge them bit by bit.

Like Catherine, we’ll start with sport. Leicester has a Premier League football team. Nottingham doesn’t. Those are the facts. Actually, our northern neighbours haven’t graced the top-flight since 1999, a time when S Club 7 and Steps were still dominating the charts. Forest fans, as we all know, love a good history lesson but their triumphs under Brian Clough are not really relevant now. Not only does Leicester boast a Premier League football team, we’re also the home of the Rugby Union’s most successful ever club, the Leicester Tigers, with ten Premiership titles to their name. Add the only cricket club to have won the Twenty20 Cup more than once and the country’s oldest basketball club (and current cup champions) in to the mix and you’ve got a true sporting city,unlike the underachieving Nottingham.

And if we’re simply talking sporting icons, how can you look further than England legends Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton, who both hail from the city? And who can forget the Jester from Leicester Mark Selby who won 2014’s World Snooker Championship?

When we’re talking music, Leicester once again reigns supreme. How can you argue with Showaddywaddy, Mark Morrison, Engelbert Humperdinck, X Factor champ Sam Bailey and of course, the crème de la crème; Kasabian? Are we to submit all of these music icons to that miserable Jake Bugg? I don’t think so.

Let’s not forget that Leicester was also the city that brought up the legendary Attenborough brothers – you’re welcome, Earth.

Apparently, Nottingham is also ‘the city of history’ too, because it’s the ‘home’ of Robin Hood, who could well be fictional. Leicester’s local Maryland Chicken chains have more history than that. Leicester can boast to be one of the country’s oldest settlements, as well as one of it’s most populated (more than Nottingham). It was also, the place Richard III met his maker, and was discovered some 530 years after he died – he wasn’t fictional.

Catherine also said that Quentin Tarantino chose Nottingham to be the location of one of Pulp Fiction’s premières – which I admit is quite cool. However, it doesn’t quite have the same honour as Queen Elizabeth II hand-picking Leicester as the first stop on her Diamond jubilee tour in 2012.

In fact if the cities were to go head-to-head Nottingham would be knocked out in the second round. Nottingham is the country’s singleton, bad breath and crime capital – quite a resumé, I know. We could stretch even further and call Nottingham the obese capital, if we were to include Bassetlaw in north Notts.  There’s actually such a gap in quality between the two cities that your life expectancy increases five years if you travel 30 miles south via the A46.

Let’s face it Nottingham cannot compare. How can you stand a few good ice skaters against the city responsible for Walkers crisps, the largest outdoor market in Europe, being Britain’s first environment city, the birth of local BBC radio and more importantly than anything else, the modern English language, and expect to win?

Neither are bad-looking cities by the way, not particularly beautiful but not ugly either. For me, Leicester edges that too but I’m sure others will disagree. In truth, there are several thousand reasons why Leicester is better than Nottingham, maybe the most relevant one is that nobody from Leicester would ever write in a Nottingham newspaper just about how great our city is. There you go, add humility to the list of things we do better too!

If you’re keeping score, don’t bother. It’s game, set and match to Leicester.

(P.S. – You can read Catherine’s blog at http://www.catherinescolumn.com)

Richard III: Greedy York Eye Fortune

The body of the last king of England to die in battle, Richard III was discovered under a council car park in the Grey Friars area of the Leicester. The discovery was made in 2012 and proven to be him in early 2013 but now some several months after the excavation, the citizens of York have pound sterling signs wedged between their eye lids.

The citizens of the northern city claim that York is his ‘spiritual’ home and it would be ‘morally correct’ to bury him at York Minster. The petition to remove his remains from the East Midlands has drawn plenty of support in online petitions with even Dame Judi Dench joining the crusade. My question is, do they really have a claim to his remains? No. Richard III was not born in York, he was born in Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire. He did not even live in York, nor did he grow up there. He was the Duke of Gloucester and his wife was buried in London, if anything these are the places that should be contesting Leicester not York.

Resting place… Richard III was discovered in Leicester.

While, his links to the town are obvious through the war of the roses you must too question the timing of the people of York who are now adamant his remains should be moved. Nobody cared when the excavation was taking place and nobody cared when he was found. It was only when the mainstream media latched on to his discovery and tourists flocked to see him that York-dwellers paid any attention whatsoever. Now, you won’t find a more passionate hive of Richard III sympathisers.

The ludicrous nature of the campaign reaches new heights when you realise that the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council have spared no expense in their historic search. They’re the ones who put their hands in the pockets to find him and put in the time and effort to uncover his body in the first place and now York want to reap the rewards and pass it off as a compassionate act of humanitarianism? The Richard III society remain neutral on the subject, realising we have no concrete knowledge on where Richard wanted to be buried and there’s a huge chance, Leicester nor York were his preferred choice.

Greedy… York Minster initially backed Leicester’s burial plans.

In fact, the only people claiming to know of his wishes are a group of people claiming to be his family. The same ones who didn’t know they were his descendants until they were tracked down and are now acting as if they had a deep emotional bond. It’s even more ridiculous when you realise that Richard III’s number of descendants has been estimated as somewhere between one and fifteen million. The fact remains is that nobody alive has ever met Richard III – not even close. There is not one person who knew him well enough to make this decision or who know him well enough to even care. I’m talking about a social version of the Statute of Limitations. So how they have the audacity to proclaim his burial wishes is beyond me.

Those in the pro-York burial clan have certainly had no qualms in bashing the city of Leicester for its conduct in the matter by trying to pass organisers off as money-driven buffoons. Those same people quietly ignore the fact of Leicester’s great expenditure and effort in unearthing the fallen king not to mention the historical significance of Richard with the city. They also don’t seem to care that Leicester Cathedral has commemorated many of the major anniversaries of the Battle of Bosworth; York Minster has not.

Exhibition… The city of Leicester has already spent money honouring the king.

Keeping the King in Leicester is even within keeping of archaeological and religious practice. York Minster even backed plans for Richard III to be re-interred in Leicester cathedral in March of this year. Unsurprisingly, as soon as Leicester began the construction of their tourist attraction, including alterations to their historic cathedral, and the citizens of York saw the potential income involved they decided to play the role of moral guardians.  Leicester is even in the middle of the country and a bigger city in general, far more recognisable on the international stage and a much better place for people to pay their respects and visit the King. The worst thing of all is that the citizens of York have managed to convince much of the general public that their cause is an honourable one and not a factually invalid ploy to make money for their city. Please don’t be taken for a fool and allow this injustice to occur. Although, not initially, Leicester has honoured Richard III for decades. York only became involved when the money did. As Leicester’s mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby so plainly put it; “the case for Leicester is overwhelming.”

Please sign this petition and keep Richard III in Leicester. Thank you in advance; http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39708

Leicester: England’s Forgotten City

I’m weirdly proud of my city. Most people up and down the British Isles don’t hold that strong a sense of local pride. Of course you hear people from places like Liverpool, Cornwall and Essex exerting their local pride but a proud ‘chisit’ is a rare sight to behold. Leicester often goes unnoticed on a national scale despite being one of the largest settlements in the United Kingdom. Many just see Leicester as a big town stuck between Birmingham and Nottingham, but it is so much more than that.

History… Leicester’s Roman remains

People had lived in the area for thousands of years, but Leicester began as a late Iron Age settlement set up by people from the Corieltauvi tribe. After the Romans fled British shores, the town’s urban function ceased to exist. Although listed as a city in medieval times, Leicester lost its city status for 800 years until 1919. Despite being one of Britain’s most important places for wealth, religion and trade, Leicester remained a borough. In spite of it’s lack of coal and iron, Leicester began it’s expansion and industrialisation in the 1700s.

Nowadays, Leicester is a superb example of a cross-cultural city owing to it’s large South Asian population. Despite this mix of ethnicity, culture and religion, little tension is experienced within the city between different groups. The city benefits from this influx of Asian culture in many ways such as; the locally known Golden mile on Belgrave Road, which provides some of the best curries in the country. Believe it or not, this obscure Midlands city boasts a lot of historical and social relevance. Leicester is home to the National Space Centre, one of the UK’s leading tourist attraction – I even know a family from San Diego who holidayed in Leicester for a week… really.

Picturesque… Bradgate Park in Summer.

Leicester is a massive sporting city too, being home to the biggest rugby union club in the country in Leicester Tigers, the oldest British basketball club in Leicester Riders, multiple time 20/20 champions in Leicestershire CCC and of course the mighty foxes, Leicester City.

The surrounding areas in Leicester are also stunning too, when you take in to account the charming county of Rutland, which if we’re honest is Leicestershire in all but name. The Charnwood area of the county is home to some of the best woodland areas for miles and home to the infamous Bradgate Park where the 9-day-Queen, Lady Jane Grey once lived.

National Treasure… Sir David Attenborough grew up in the city.

Leicester has actually been the home to many well-known names over the years. Famous ‘chisits’ include spud-flogger and England legend, Gary Lineker, as well as former City and England keeper, Peter Shilton. Successful band, Kasabian (who grew up a mile from my house), fashion expert Gok Wan (whose parents own my local chippy and Chinese takeaway). Engelbert Humperdinck, the Elephant man, Joseph Merrick, the world’s fattest man, Daniel Lambert and of course the legendary Attenborough brothers; David and Richard. You can even thank the city for the timeless classic that is ‘Return of the Mack’. Leicester is also famous for being the home of Walker’s crisps but many people are unaware that most of Britain’s beloved snacks are produced in the city or county, including Galaxy, Mars and Snickers in Ashby de la Zouch – you’re welcome.

The city also has its ties to the British monarchy due to the well publicised finding of Richard III’s body in late 2012. He was found buried in the Grey Friars area of the city following his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 – the last King to die in battle. The Queen also personally chose Leicester as the first stop on her 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour and thanked the city for exceeding her expectations in welcoming her. The visit made such an impression on the locals that the council plans on opening a new complex called ‘Jubilee Square’ in the coming years.

To be clear, I’m under no disillusions. I realise Leicester will never be an iconic city of the world like Paris or New York but as far as Britain goes, Leicester, in my opinion is one of the best cities there is. Ask my Granddad – he’s compiled a comprehensive argument on why Leicester should actually be the country’s capital but that’s a different story altogether.

Interesting facts about Leicester

Rejuvenated… The city of Leicester.

  • Leicester is home to the biggest outdoor, covered market in Europe.
  • The city lies on the River Soar and on the edge of the National Forest.
  • With a total population of 329,600 Leicester is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.
  • As one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least 2,000 years – Leicester appears in the Doomsday Book as “Ledecestre”.
  • BBC Radio Leicester was the first local BBC radio station.
  • Leicester has the largest economy in the East Midlands and one of the largest in the country.
  • Leicester hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India, the largest comedy festival in the UK as well as annual Pride and Caribbean events.
  • Leicester was Britain’s first ‘Environment City’ and was singled out for special praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The name for a person from Leicester is a ‘Leicesterian’ or ‘chisit’, the latter deriving from the locals of Skegness (a popular holiday destination for Leicesterians), who noticed that the phrase ‘how much is it?’ sounds like ‘I’m a chisit’ in a Leicester accent.
  • Leicester was the first place outside of London to have traffic lights and Tesco.
  • Experts have determined that Leicester is the birthplace of modern standard English.

El Clasico, me duck

Fester vs. Shottingham, The Bin Dippers vs. The Trees, Leicester vs. Forest

It may not be the biggest rivalry in East Midlands football but a significant rivalry exists nonetheless. The cities of Leicester and Nottingham are the urban heavyweights of the East Midlands and with the eerie alignment of off-field circumstances, next Saturday’s East Midlands derby could prove to be a very interesting one.

Rivals… Leicester City face Nottingham Forest.

History… Leicester have spent many years in Nottingham’s shadow

Even the most die-hard Leicester fans would struggle to argue that Leicester–Forest was the fiercest rivalry in the East Midlands. It’s no secret that Forest hold a much more ferocious disliking of Derby County but that’s not to say that Leicester and Forest don’t have a rivalry of their own. In fact, when it comes to the city rivalry of the region, Derby barely feature. Nottingham is recognised as a major English settlement whereas Leicester is regarded to be an outstanding example of a 21st century city. It’s probably fair to say that the inhabitants of Leicester have long looked at their northern neighbours from Nottingham with some disdain, due to the frequent disregard of their own city. Although, Nottingham is famous for Robin Hood nowadays its surpassed by Leicester in almost every way;  Leicester’s population as of the 2011 census stood at 327,000 compared to Nottingham’s 305,000 inhabitants, Leicester has the stronger economy of the two cities and the life expectancy of Leicesterians is some five years higher at 77 than those living in Nottingham at 72, the city with the highest crime rate per capita in the country.

Deforestation… Leicester have beaten Forest 7 times at their new home

Of course, the rivalry has ultimately transcended in to football. The clubs have met competitively on 102 occasions with Leicester holding the slight upper hand with 39 wins compared to Forest’s 38. To the pain of the Foxes, Forest recorded Leicester City’s biggest ever defeat back in April 1909 when City crashed out 12–0 to the Tricky Trees, in fact the performances by the men in blue were so terrible, the FA launched an inquiry, unearthing that the Leicester players had been hungover from a wedding reception the night before. Both sides seem to have a mutual lack of fortune at the other’s home ground. Since Leicester moved to the King Power Stadium in 2002, Forest have suffered 7 defeats in 9 visits, only scoring one goal in the process back in 2005. Leicester’s travelling woes are even worse with Leicester’s last league victory at the City Ground coming in 1972, a game in which both Keith Weller and Alan Birchenall scored. Although, you only have to travel back to 2007 for Leicester’s last win at the City Ground, a controversial 3–2 league cup win, remembered for Forest’s ‘free goal’, a gesture to represent the scoreline when the game was abandoned the first time around due to Clive Clark’s heart attack.

Comeback… Schmeichel sees red as Forest come back from two goals down at the City Ground

In fact, Leicester and Forest’s meetings haven’t been short of controversy in recent years, particularly at the City Ground. Last season, saw Leicester surrender a two goal lead at the City Ground after a controversial penalty and at best a dubious red card for Kasper Schmeichel. However, the fans of Nottingham Forest would take some heavy criticism following claims of racist chanting during a 0–0 draw during the 3rd round of the FA Cup. But perhaps the most intriguing thing about games between Leicester and Nottingham Forest is the differences in the fans’ attitudes. While, it’s true that the vast majority of Leicester fans consider Forest to be their main rivals the same isn’t true for the fans of the Tricky Trees. Leicester come a distant second to Derby County, a rivalry they seem bizarrely protective over. Actually, the most peculiar aspect of Forest’s approach to the Foxes is their persistence that they ‘don’t care’ about Leicester whilst simultaneously revelling in the Foxes misfortunes. In reality, Leicester are still a main target for Forest’s terrace chants and the Reds’ fans of Loughborough, Melton Mowbray and yesteryear would tell you there is a significant rivalry between the two clubs. What has always puzzled me is Forest’s decision not to embrace a second fierce rivalry to accompany the Derby one. In fact, Forest fans can appear arrogant in their dismissal of City, as if they’re above them when in truth, both clubs are equal nowadays with the Foxes having greater success in recent years. Although as much as Forest downplay the fixture, Leicester fans seem to amplify it when in reality it doesn’t deserve to sit among the fiercest derbies in the country.

On Both Sides… former Forest favourite, Wes Morgan is now captain of Leicester City

On the pitch, the battle between the two East Midlands giants is set to be close. In a bizarre twist of fate, Leicester and Forest seem to have had remarkably similar fortunes in recent seasons. Both reached and were knocked out of the play-off semi-finals in 2009/10, Leicester went on to appoint former England boss, Sven-Goran Eriksson to the manager’s position and Forest followed suit by hiring Steve McClaren. Now, the two are backed by multi-millionaire foreign owners and both expect to be back in the Premier League sooner rather than later. Leicester have lived up to pre-season expectations so far, sitting in the top four, having only lost one game at home this season. Forest travel to the King Power Stadium in great form and are (with Blackburn and Crystal Palace) the toughest team to beat in the league having lost just three times this season and in true competitive spirit, both clubs’ fans are buoyant with confidence, both hoping that this is the year that these two great clubs finally make it back to the big time.

Blue Side of the Trent

King Power Confidence… Leicester boast an impressive home record.

“Our season started out a bit rocky to say the least, good performances that resulted in nothing and we fully deserve to be where we are now if not with a few more points. Recent form has shown we’re capable of being up there with the best in the league. The rivalry is very played up in my opinion. I think it’s a bigger rivalry than Derby but that’s because my uncle supports Forest, they always make a massive thing of the games before they happen as do most Forest fans I’ve ever unfortunately come into contact with. In my eyes the rivalry is the biggest we’ve got but is pretty tame as rivalries go although it’s always nice to beat them. Not being able to go to the game is a real downer for me but in every other way I’m looking forward to a game that should generate a bit of atmosphere everywhere in the ground which will be good not only for fans but for the players too. This could be a fierce game with Forest hovering just outside the play-offs and Leicester in the run with Cardiff for 1st place, with both teams on a good run both with 2 losses in the last 10, the only separation is that Forest have had considerably more draws than Leicester . I predict a good game, few goals a spectacular goal is called for a Gally free kick maybe?” – @YouKnowLily_

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“This could be the match to get the Foxes back on track. After going on a surging run of 7 unbeaten games, which included a 5-match winning streak, Leicester have come unstuck in recent matches vs Crystal Palace and Watford; losing both matches 2-1. You can already sense the anticipation in the Foxes ranks for this match as it is one of the matches that both sets of fans (no matter how much they’d like to hide it) look out for when the fixtures are released in summer. As our home record is fairly strong, coupled with their poor record at the King Power, I’m going in to this game with some confidence.
Not many Leicester fans could complain about how this season has gone so far. From the beginning, it looked like the inconsistencies of not being able to win 2 in a row would continue to haunt us. However, since the departure of a couple of key players, our squad got their act together and starting to win more than 1 game at a time! It set us up for a brief stint at the top of the league which had felt like an eternity to come. However, the past week hasn’t been so rosy which is why I believe beating Forest at home would get us back on the right track and get us back to the top again. It’s refreshing to see some creative players with flair and some entertainment back in the side – Anthony Knockaert especially. Wes Morgan though has been one of Pearson’s best signings. Solid as a rock at the back and would be fitting for him to score and lead the Foxes to a sweet victory over his old club.
Personally, I think Nottingham Forest have been our main rivals ahead of anyone else. I have seen them as a far superior threat than the likes of Derby and Coventry since I’ve supported Leicester. It does give me great pleasure each time we beat them, no doubt about that. And I’m sure it’s the same each time they beat us no matter how much they’d like to deny it. I was surprised to see them lose 4-1 at home to Millwall, but it just emphasises how unpredictable this league can be.
I’d love to give them a right thrashing on home turf. To be honest though, 3 points would be welcome in any particular fashion. I fancy Knockaert and King (should they play) to be on top form. I fully expect Wes Morgan to play the captain’s role once again. He’s been my player of the season so far. Very influential and commanding in central defence. I’ll go for 3-1; Nugent, King and Morgan for us; Billy Sharp for them. ” – @StanLCFC

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“A very positive start to the season at the Kingpower, dominant till The Eagles took flight and capitalised. Away games started very poorly but certainly improved on this. We’ve created enough chances to win every game just that killer hitman would make us (and with no bias) the perfect team. Pearson putting us top of the league with very influential performances home and away has left all of the LCFC faithful feeling very positive, a feeling of satisfaction. Forest under new management and new investment is a very big positive now at the City Ground, will get the fans backing back after an ever so woeful season last campaign for the trees. Billy Sharp and Simon Cox looking strong and Jermaine Jenas being a playmaker on his second bite of the cherry with them, a new and stronger looking team for NFFC in my eyes and very dangerous. The rivalry… My Mum is a city fan, I grew up with that and that is never going to change, my Dad on the other hand a forest fan… Gets very sour with Papa Wainwright. The rivalry means a lot to me due to the family bragging rights. Forest thrashing us by 5 goals to the good left me feeling red faced but our stunning home performances against the Red Army leaving him under the blues quite literally every time. My overall prediction is a win, at all costs. Regaining that mentality to be winning every game will be drilled into the player’s heads by Nige… A challenge, but we will be the one’s winning on the tele, again.” – @_samwainwright

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Red Side of the Trent

Rejuvenated Reds… Forest fans are hoping for a fox hunt.

“Forest vs Leicester is a game I always look forward too despite the fact that I don’t hate them as much as Derby. The games always seem to be memorable. Such as when we beat Leicester 5-1 or when Leicester beat us 4-0. The fact that Wes Morgan is now captain of Leicester makes next Saturday a little emotional for us Forest fans as we all still love that man and I for one will always love him.
The banter between Forest and Leicester fans is brilliant. Because all of us Forest fans go on like we don’t care about Leicester but in fact I think we all do, we just love to annoy the Leicester fans.
The way Leicester have started the season genuinely has surprised me, their squad doesn’t look as impressive as last season but they have got the results. On the other hand our start to the season has been impressive too which gets me so excited for the 10th November as I feel it will be a very close game just like the 0-0 last season. I am praying that next Saturday I will be celebrating our first victory at Leicester’s ground for a very long time rather than having to see all of the Leicester fan’s celebrating and more importantly seeing Wes Morgan celebrating.” – @zackgrundy26

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“Robbie Findley with an incredible chance to score in a cup replay against bitter rivals Leicester City, somehow from no more than a few yards out puts the ball over the bar instead, of tucking away what seemed a certain goal. This was a moment that perfectly defined the 11/12 season for Nottingham Forest, a goal down away from home, again. A meager 1600 fans tucked away in the far corner of the ground, cursing their luck and reminiscing old managers and past seasons as they watch one of their 3 fit forwards squander a chance that seems harder to miss. Stood in the corner of that ground was one of the lowest points of my time following Forest, even down in League One we had some fight about us, passion. People wanted to watch us, 5000 fans travelled to places such as Oldham to watch their team, now, without even half of the allocation received 40 minutes down the road at Leicester, one of our 2 main rivals. A season plagued by tragedy, with the death of Nigel Doughty, injury, over paid primadonnas and sheer bad luck.
A few months down the line and what a difference a summer makes, with the Al-Hasawi family taking over in the summer and heavily investing in the squad, and most importantly the ideals of one Sean o’Driscoll things are looking up again on the red side of the Trent, with 5 games unbeaten (before Millwall at home this weekend) and big wins over title favourites Cardiff and a 4-1 win at a tough side in Barnsley the optimism is back for many Forest fans, along with the away followings, and most importantly the pride and willingness to play for the shirt. On Saturday 10th November, we face one of the sternest tests so far when we once again face bitter rivals Leicester City, who themselves are having a fantastic start to the season.
After a questionable start to the season which has seen media speculation regarding the future of Nigel Pearson (wrongly) Leicester have started to achieve the results that their performances had already been meriting, with some of the strongest teams in the league such as Blackpool being added to the impressive home record at the KP stadium. Fan favorite, and the ever-present David Nugent will be one of many players Forest must keep a keen eye on if they are to achieve any form of result at the KP this November, his pace is a match for any defence, never mind one that has recently been hit with injuries and is also only a few months in the making. A particular area of concern for me is the wide players at Leicester, Anthony Knockaert has shown what he is about with 2 world-class goals, and Lloyd Dyer, although inconsistent always seems to play havoc down the wing against Forest. This is an area which many teams have highlighted as a weak point in our defence with the generally narrow game that Forest play. Reminiscent of Stuart Pearce during the Clough Era the full backs will often over lap the supposed wide midfielder, whilst players such as Chris Cohen and Andy Reid will cut inside rather than hitting the byline like a typical winger. This has had its successes and failures, the most notable being the defeat at the hands of Derby County, and problems caused by two of the most exciting wingers in the league in Zaha and Redmond. In order to get anything out of this game Forest must play the game their own way and if Messer’s Halford or Harding do go on a Pearce style run then we need to make sure cover is available in the full back position . I’m confident that Forest have the ability and goals in the team to cause Leicester are a real problem at the KP, however I think any Forest fan would snatch a hand off for a draw before the game kicks off.” – @ImAshleyyyyyyyy

The East Midlands Derbies

The East Midlands is a funny place to determine local rivalries. Traditionally, a successful area of the country in terms of footballing heritage, being the home of Nottingham Forest, Derby County and of course, Leicester City. However, although there is little room for disputing the legitimacy of the ‘East Midlands Big 3’. There is significantly more doubt over the issue of who hates whom.

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Rivals… Derby, Leicester and Nott’m Forest

There seems to be a significant divide among the supporters of the three clubs as to the extent of each’s rivalry with the other two. In 2003, the Football Fans Census aimed to highlight who football fans considered their clubs biggest rivals and there were no surprises in the East Midlands with all three naming each other as their two biggest rivals;

Derby County Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Leeds United

Leicester City – Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Coventry City

Nottingham Forest – Derby County, Leicester City, Sheffield United

The evidence of this ‘census’ being accurate is apparent on social networking site, Twitter. With fans often engaging in ‘banter’ with their rival’s supporters. However, although Leicester, Forest and Derby share a frequent and equal need to bash each other over Twitter, a rivalry survey I launched on Twitter and all three clubs’ biggest forum had slightly different results to that of the 2003 census. Forest and Derby remained the fiercest rivalry with each still naming each other as their main rival. Leicester still saw Forest as the enemy and Forest saw Leicester as the next best alternative with Sheffield United still in third. However, the Derby-Leicester rivalry seems to have diluted within the last 9 years with both naming each other as their third biggest rivals. With Leicester behind Leeds United and Derby now behind Coventry City.

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Crunch… Derby County list BOTH Forest and Leicester as rivals.

Attendances are another area of these rivalries where intensity could be disputed. In the 2011/12 season the Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest at Pride Park was the only East Midlands derby to receive no coverage on television. With Derby and Leicester’s two league clashes and Leicester-Forest’s FA Cup replay taking centre stage on the box. It is fair to say over the last few seasons, Leicester City’s games against Forest and Derby are far more likely to be televised than those against each other. Perhaps indicating how the media depicts the intensity of each rivalry. However, Derby-Forest was the only sell-out derby match of last season with 33,010 fans rocking up on the night. Attendances for all three have dropped considerably over the last few seasons.

2009/10
Derby vs. Forest – 32,674

Derby vs. Leicester – 30,259
Leicester vs. Derby – 28,875
Leicester vs. Forest – 31,759
Forest vs. Derby – 28,143
Forest vs. Leicester – 28,626

2010/11
Derby vs. Forest – 33,010
Derby vs. Leicester – 26,142 (5.20 kick-off, televised)
Leicester vs. Derby – 25,930
Leicester vs. Forest – 24,659 (7.45 Monday kick-off, televised)
Forest vs. Derby – 29,490
Forest vs. Leicester – 24,217 (5.20 Good Friday kick-off, televised)

2011/12
Derby vs. Leicester – 28,205 (7.45 Thursday kick-off, televised)
Derby vs. Forest – 33,010 (7.45 Tuesday kick-off)
Leicester vs. Derby – 22,496 (5.20 kick-off, televised)
Leicester vs. Forest – 23,412 (7.45 Tuesday kick-off)
Forest vs. Leicester – 24,426
Forest vs. Derby – 27,356 (12.00 kick-off, televised)

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Sea of Blue… 8,000 Leicester fans storm the City Ground.

Although the fans census and attendance figures may agree that Forest-Derby is the biggest rivalry in East Midlands, the history books would contend this. It is widely accepted among the clubs’ fans that pre-Brian Clough the main rivalry in the East Midlands was between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City due to the size of both cities (both considerably bigger than Derby) and the socio-economic rivalry that has lasted between Nottingham and Leicester for decades. The rivalry seems to transcend football time and time again. Most notably with the East Midlands airport dispute. The airport is closer to Nottingham, which it was originally named after but it had a Derby post code and fell within the Leicestershire border. This intensified the rivalry between the three cities and it has since been rebranded East Midlands Airport : Nottingham – Leicester – Derby.

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Hate… Emotions boil over at Pride Park

Geography is of course another key factor in determining the strength of each rivalry. The cities of Nottingham and Derby are just 13 miles apart, that’s half the distance between either and Leicester. This is likely to cause a more intense local rivalry. However, heavily populated towns in Leicestershire that are much closer to their rivals have been known to host a hostile atmosphere. Most notably, Loughborough and Melton Mowbray towards Nottinghamshire and Coalville towards Derbyshire. Interestingly enough, geography may not be as important in the East Midlands as most other places with only Derby considering their nearest football club their main rivals. Forest’s nearest club are Notts County and Leicester’s is M69 rivals, Coventry.

In my own personal experience, Derby and Forest fans seem to legitimately care about Leicester City. Granted, not as much as each other but the rivalry still exists. I remember the way, the Reds celebrated an injury time equaliser against the Foxes in August in a traditionally controversial clash between the two EM giants. I remember Forest’s chants from late-March – “If you all hate Leicester, clap your hands.”, “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire put the Derby on the top, put the Leicester in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot.”, “We’ll never be mastered by you Leicester bastards, we’ll keep the red flag flying high.” I also remember, a Derby fan shouting abuse at me as I walked down the street with a Leicester flag for Sport Relief. The reason, I bring up the word ‘care’ is the now frequented defense mechanism introduced by the Derby-Forest alliance a few years ago. Both clubs claim to not care about the Foxes which is a perfect excuse when Leicester City manage to beat their rivals. Their fans don’t care. However, on the rare occasion they beat Leicester, the story changes and the three become rivals again.

To me, it’s clear. Derby and Forest are the biggest rivals in the East Midlands. I don’t believe the rivalry is as big as their fans make it out to be and I don’t believe Leicester-Forest and Leicester-Derby is as weak as the Rams and Reds claim nor do I feel that it’s the hugest rivalry in existence as some Leicester fans may lead you to believe. For now, all I can say to Leicester fans, is leave Forest and Derby alone to think they’re Real and Barca and when we bump in to our friends of the tree or sheep persuasion, we can remind them where our ‘loyalties’ lie. After all, foxes eat sheep and trees are perfect for pissing on.

We hate Forest! We hate Derby! Who the f**k are Coventry?