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Filbert Street, in Leicestermarker, Englandmarker, was a football stadium, and the home of Leicester City from 1891 to 2002. Although officially titled "The City Business Stadium" in the early 1990s, it remained known almost exclusively by its address, like many English football stadia.


Early years

The club, then named Leicester Fosse, moved to Filbert Street in 1891, after playing at five other locations since its formation in 1884. Local legend suggests that the ground was identified by a Miss Westland, the niece of one of the club's founders, Joseph Johnson, after the Corporation had not renewed Fosse's lease on their previous ground at nearby Mill Lane, only weeks before their debut season in the Midland League.

The ground initially consisted of simple earth banks and a small Main Stand on the west side, until 1921, when a new and much larger Main Stand was built. In 1927, a new stand was built at the south end (known as the Spion Kop), and became known as the "Double Decker". The roof which had previously covered the Kop was rebuilt at the north, or Filbert Street end of the ground. It was in this form that Filbert Street saw its record attendance of 47,298 for the Fifth Round FA Cup tie, against Tottenham Hotspur, on 18 February, 1928. This game also saw many more spectators watch the match from the roof of the Filbert Street end. The first phase of ground development concluded with the covering of the East or Popular side in 1939.

World War 2 and after

The middle section of the Main Stand suffered bomb damage in 1940, and was later further damaged by a serious fire. By 1949, the stand had been rebuilt, with much of the labour, ironically, being supplied by German POWs at a nearby camp. The ground's maximum capacity was now around 42,000.

After just surviving a council vote to terminate their lease in the late 1940s, City purchased the freehold of the ground in 1962, for the sum of £30,500. In 1971, the first moves towards an all-seater stadium were taken, as the North and East sides were converted to seating. Four years later, 20 basic executive boxes were added to the North Stand. A pioneering polythene cover was introduced to protect the pitch in 1971, with mixed results.

All-seater stadium

After considering relocating to a new stadium, and a total redevelopment of Filbert Street which would have seen the pitch rotated by 90 degrees, onto the car park behind the Main Stand, City opted to build a new Main Stand.

Completed in December 1993, the Carling Stand held 9,500 seated spectators and expanded corporate facilities, costing £6million. In 1994, the final terraced area - the Kop - was converted to seating giving Filbert Street an all-seated capacity of 21,500, and bringing it into compliance with the Taylor Report which required all Premier League and Division One teams to have all-seater capacity.

Following the success of the club under Martin O'Neill during the later part of the 1990s, an expanded stadium was required for higher attendances and to provide better facilities. Expansion of Filbert Street would have been very difficult, the North and East Stands backed onto housing which would have been expensive to place under a compulsory purchase order in the event of expansion. Although expansion was considered, in 1998, the club made the decision to relocate.

Relocation and demolition

After a failed attempt to build a 40,000 all-seater stadium at Bede Island South (on the other bank of the nearby River Soarmarker), the club purchased Freeman's Wharf, a former power station site 200 yards south of Filbert Street. Work began on a 32,500 seater stadium named Filbert Way. However the naming rights were sold and it became the Walkers Stadiummarker (because of a ten year sponsorship deal with long running sponsors Walkers Crisps) in June 2001. It was opened in August 2002. The original name chosen for the stadium was the Walkers Bowl, but this was abandoned as the name did not prove popular with City fans.

The last game to be played at Filbert Street was the last game of the 2001/2002 season, a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Matt Piper scored the winner, the last goal scored at the ground, bringing to an end 111 years of football there.

Demolition of Filbert Street was completed in the summer of 2003. The site is now home to the 'Filbert Village' development, built as accommodation for students for the nearby De Montfort Universitymarker and University of Leicestermarker. The road running through the development is called Lineker Road, after Gary Lineker, one of Leicester City's most famous players.

In the autumn of 2002, Rotherham United had expressed interest in purchasing the Carling Stand and moving it to their Millmoormarker stadium, but these plans were abandoned and the Carling Stand (barely 10 years old) was demolished with the rest of Filbert Street several months later.

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