After a meeting at the George Hotel in Leicester, 3 clubs decided to merge together: Leicester Alert, Leicester Amateur FC and Leicester Societies AFC. This was the birth of Leicester Football Club; or Leicester Tigers as they are now more commonly known as.
There are 2 main theories behind the Tigers name, nobody knows for sure which one it was though. Firstly, because of the brown and yellow striped kit they used to wear, the Leicester Daily Post commented after one of their games that, “the Tiger stripes were keeping well together”, and the name stuck after that. The other theory was that the Royal Leicestershire Regiment that was serving in India at the time was known as “The Tigers” and were linked to the Club, and got the name from there.
The Tigers began life playing at Belgrave Cricket and Cycle Ground, and played there and at Victoria Park until 1892 when they moved to Welford Road, where they’ve remained to this day.
Leicester won their first tournament in 1897, winning the Midland Counties Cup, and continued their dominance in the tournament by securing 8 successive wins to 1905.
In 1907/9 the first Leicester players toured abroad. 3 players from the team, Tom Smith, Fred Jackson and John Jackett (pictured below) were invited to tour Australia with what is now known to be the British Lions.
War broke out in August 1914 and rugby was put on hold at Welford Road, with the sports ground being transformed into an area for military training.
Play resumed in 1918, and shortly afterwards they introduced new stands and terraces at Welford Road and raised the seating capacity to 10,250. In Christmas 1921, the Tigers hosted their first French visitors in the shape of Racing Club de France. Leicester won that fixture 4-0, but lost on their first foreign trip with the return visit to Paris a year later.
The club faced financial difficulties during the late 1920s and early 30s, and started to sell match programmes to raise cash for the club. In 1934, a Supporters Club was formed to start fundraising for the club.
Turning to the professional era, and Leicester are the most decorated club in England. Since 1999, they’ve won the League a record 8 times, as well as winning the Heineken Cup twice. In the 2000s, only Wasps were close to Leicester’s clear dominance, they were head and shoulders above the rest.
Leicester has been the benchmark for many clubs in the Premiership. In the professional era they have been very well managed – with a strong fan base, a constant stream of academy players making the step up to the first team and always seemingly finding the “diamond in the rough” type foreign players, or players who have had a dip in their careers, such as Blaine Scully, Alesana Tuilagi and Scott Hamilton to name just a few.