Leicester paints the town blue

Richard IIILeicester is not a glamorous city, perhaps best known as the place where a dead king was found buried in a car park.

And not a great king, revered and all conquering, but Richard III, whose controversial reign lasted as long as a modern day Australian prime minister and ended just as bloodily.

Said king is now credited for the fairytale story that is Leicester City’s unlikely ascension to the English Premier League throne. For it was after his reburial at Leicester Cathedral that the Foxes started winning.

Now, like everything else in Leicester, Richard is decked out in blue.

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We like to associate ourselves with winners. So this is where I tell you of my own tenuous links to Leicester, my mother’s birthplace, her home until she turned 18 and put down roots on the other side of the world.

We still have family there and we rib them whenever England has crashed out of yet another world cup. Which is quite often.

les-tah 2In my handful of visits to Leicester, I have briefly acquired a Midlands accent and, courtesy of a learned uncle, a more enduring appreciation of single malt whisky, Lagavulin in particular.

It’s an unassuming city, one of Britain’s oldest, occupied first by the Romans not long after Christ walked the earth and now by all manner of nationalities.

It lies on England’s waistline, a notch on the belt that runs across the nation’s middle, half way between two better known L-named cities, London and Liverpool.

But Leicester is the name on everyone’s lips today.

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What this team has done is miraculous.

At the beginning of the season, they were 5,000 to one shots of taking the title. There were better odds of Elvis being found alive or Kim Kardashian becoming the US President.

No one quite knows how they’ve done it.

The team is worth a fraction of more fancied sides. They are Eddie the Eagle, Eric the Eel and the Jamaican bob sleighers all in the outfit.

Their coach, Claudio Ranieri, had been sacked by seven of the 12 clubs he’d managed and had just been dismissed by Greece after an ignominious loss to the lowly Faroe Islands.

They didn’t thrash opposing teams. They claimed the title by stealth, eking out narrow win by narrow win till people started talking about the unthinkable.

Perhaps it was fitting that they weren’t even on the field when they won the title but at striker Jamie Vardy’s house watching Chelsea put an end to second place Tottenham’s title hopes.

Ranieri was on a plane back from Italy after taking his 96-yera-old mother out for lunch. When he landed, he rang Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink to thank him.

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It’s a fair bet they’ve run out of blue food colouring in Leicester. Over the last few days, it’s been poured into sausages, cakes, bread, fish batter, cocktails, you name it.

And the locals are mad enough to eat it.

The city’s landmarks have been bathed in a suitable hue for this once-in-a-blue-moon event.

Jamie Vardy has bought a new blue Bentley. Cafes are serving Vardiccinos, complete with his noggin in the froth. Playgrounds have been repainted. The city’s gone a little nuts.

And why not? It’s a great story, a fantastic moment.

Much better than a Kardashian presidency.

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