Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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It’s not every day I start a Blog with a picture of a table. But this is no ordinary table. Firstly it’s a League table rather than a piece of furniture. And secondly it portrays an extraordinary story. Almost an impossible one, in fact.
Look at the name alongside the number one position. ‘Leicester’ is UK football team Leicester City Football Club, owned by an offshoot of Thai travel retailer King Power International Group (Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is the club’s Chairman and Senior Executive Vice President Susan Whelan, pictured below, its CEO). The table in question is that of the English Premiership League.
As regular readers of this Blog will know, Leicester are known affectionately as ‘the Foxes’. In the 2014/15 seasons these foxes ran like they were being chased by a pack of rabid, starving hounds over their last nine games, winning seven and drawing one, miraculously escaping the relegation that had seemed certain all season.
This season has been a startlingly different story. At this point last year the Foxes were still running a dismal last out of 20 teams in the league. How they stayed up still defies belief – we dubbed it the greatest escape since Steve McQueen was on a motor bike. But not half as much as this season’s performance does. With just seven games left, the flying Foxes are in first place, top of the pile ahead of the big money leviathans, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
In December we named Susan Whelan as one of The Moodie Report’s People of the Year for her monumental dual achievement in holding down one of travel retail’s most senior retail roles as well as being one of the very few female bosses in the male-dominated world of football. And one of the best, regardless of gender. As we noted at the time: “That’s what we call multi-tasking on a grand level. Heck, get her to play upfront with Leicester’s goal machine Jamie Vardy and she’d probably outscore him. She’s top of the league in every sense.”
But even the Foxes’ most diehard fans (among which The Moodie Report certainly counts) can barely have dared to dream that the team would still sit at the top of the mountain come the finishing stretch to the season.
Could this team of supposed journeymen, discounted buys and late developers really head off the mighty, multi-million Pound talent pools of its nearest rivals? It is being talked about as one of, perhaps the, greatest team sporting achievements of all time. Arguably the greatest upset since David got the better of Goliath. Leicester has become the team that everyone (other than fans of the other serious contenders) wants to win the League.
“They are on the edge of sporting immortality,” wrote former Foxes and England star turned TV pundit Gary Lineker. “I don’t think I have ever wanted something to happen more in sport in my entire life.”
We’re with Gary. So are a lot of people. There’s a book planned, a possible movie. And that’s whatever happens in the final few matches. If these fantastic flying Foxes win, not only will the city of Leicester go mad but so will the whole football world. Mad with joy, mad with the euphoric realisation that sometimes dreams – crazy, zany, wistful, fantastic, zillion-to-one, impossible dreams – really can come true. In a world turned so crazy for so many negative reasons, wouldn’t that be something?