Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

Leicester City’s historic collection unveils rare 1899/1900 FA Cup programme



Club Historian John Hutchinson highlights an oldest matchday programme featuring Leicester Fosse and Sheffield United

Leicester City Club Historian John Hutchinson has revealed another fascinating treasure from the club’s historic collection, this time dating back to the 1899/1900 season. This latest find is the oldest matchday programme in Leicester City’s archive, from a pivotal FA Cup match between Leicester Fosse and Sheffield United.

On January 27, 1900, Leicester Fosse faced Sheffield United in a draw for the last 32 teams in the FA Cup. At that time, Sheffield United was at the pinnacle of the First Division and held the title of FA Cup champions. Leicester Fosse, on the other hand, was in third place in the Second Division. This historic programme provides a window into football over a century ago, reflecting both the excitement and the context of the match.

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The 16-page programme is a valuable artifact from the era. The articles are densely printed, with no illustrations, and focus on Sheffield United’s FA Cup history and their current opponents, Leicester Fosse. One article notably mentions United’s recent defeat, which ended their impressive 22-game unbeaten streak.

Other sections of the programme document the season’s results for both United’s first and reserve teams. It also includes up-to-date Football League tables and a comprehensive list of results from every team in that season’s First Division. This extensive coverage highlights the meticulous record-keeping and enthusiasm for the sport at the time.

The back cover of the programme lists the line-ups for both Sheffield United and Leicester Fosse. Among the players, the most notable is William Foulke, United’s goalkeeper and former England international, who was famously known for his large size, weighing 24 stone.

The remaining pages of the programme feature advertisements for various products and services. One notable advertisement is for the Footballers’ Hospital in Manchester, a renowned institution for treating football injuries, frequented by many professional clubs.

The discovery of this programme provides a unique glimpse into the early days of professional football and Leicester Fosse’s place in that history. It enriches the narrative of Leicester City’s storied past, connecting modern fans with the club’s origins and early struggles in the competitive world of football.


The unveiling of this historic programme by John Hutchinson offers more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It serves as an essential link between the past and present of Leicester City, formerly known as Leicester Fosse. The programme, with its detailed articles and comprehensive statistics, reflects the early organization and enthusiasm for football, which has evolved into the modern game loved by millions.

From a historical perspective, the programme highlights the competitive spirit and challenges faced by Leicester Fosse in the early 1900s. Competing against top-tier teams like Sheffield United, who were the reigning FA Cup holders, illustrates the level of competition and the ambition of lower-division teams to make their mark in prestigious tournaments.

Sociologically, the programme is a testament to the growing popularity of football at the turn of the 20th century. The detailed records and advertisements indicate a burgeoning commercial interest in the sport, with businesses recognizing the potential of football to reach a broad audience. The mention of the Footballers’ Hospital in Manchester underscores the professionalization of the sport, where players’ health and injuries were taken seriously, hinting at the early development of sports medicine.

Economically, the existence of such programmes shows the early monetization of football. Matchday programmes served not only as a source of information but also as a revenue stream through advertisements and sales. This practice has continued and evolved, becoming a significant aspect of the football economy.

Locally, this programme is a valuable artifact for Leicester City, enhancing the club’s historical archive and providing fans with a tangible connection to their team’s roots. It reinforces local pride and continuity, showing how far the club has come from its early days as Leicester Fosse.

From a gender perspective, the programme is an example of early football culture, which was predominantly male-dominated. The focus on male teams and players reflects the societal norms of the time. However, it also sets a backdrop against which the progress in women’s football can be measured, highlighting the strides made towards gender equality in the sport.

In terms of race and minority perspectives, the programme reflects a time when football was beginning to gain a more diverse following. While the teams and players mentioned are likely to be all white, given the era, it sets a foundation for understanding the evolution of the sport into a more inclusive and diverse field, welcoming players and fans from various backgrounds.

The historical matchday programme not only enriches Leicester City’s archive but also serves as a significant educational tool. It helps fans and historians alike appreciate the rich tapestry of football’s history and the enduring legacy of clubs like Leicester City.


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