Recreational and sports amenities in Leicester

Leicester has a strong tradition of being represented at national level in our three main sports. ie Football, Rugby and Cricket, with the rugby team, Leicester Tigers, being the most consistent in their achievements.

In terms of municipal sport and recreation facilities the recently opened Braunstone Leisure Centre is undoubtedly the star attraction. Opened in 2004 it is the home of both the Braunstone & City of Leicester Swimming Clubs and, despite only having an eight lane swimming 25m pool in 2005 it hosted the British Synchronised Swimming Championship. The centre also has a four lane community swimming pool and a sports hall capable of having six Badminton courts and an auditorium for up to 400 people. There are also leisure centres at Aylestone and Spence Street. Leicester has two municipal golf courses; Humberstone Heights (off Gypsy Lane) and The Western (off Scudamore Road).

Leicester Tigers are one of the country’s leading senior Rugby Union clubs. Their Welford Road ground has been the scene of some memorable games over the years and regularly hosts matches against the ‘Barbarians’ – a team of ad hoc internationals. Formed in 1880, their name has two legends associated with it. One is that it arises from the striped shirts that they wear and the other that it has an association with a local regiment that had been serving in India. Whilst their most recent successes were at the turn of the 21st century, ie English and European champions in the season 2001-2002, they are always a force to be reckoned with in English and European rugby. The Tigers play in the English Guinness Premiership League and have many international players in the team. Leicester as a city also has many thriving junior Rugby Union clubs playing in local leagues. To select any best known names from a club like the Tigers is difficult, but from recent times 2003 Rugby Union World Cup winner and England captain Martin Johnson has to be mentioned. Rory and Tony Underwood as well as, more recently, Austin Healey, were also well loved players.

Leicester City Football Club is currently in the English Championship League, one step down from the top-flight Premier League, their nick-name is The Foxes. Founded in 1884 as Leicester Fosse, they moved to their original ground, Filbert Street, in 1891 - a year after joining the English Football Association. Their glory years were in the 1960s and early 1970s but since then they have at best only been able to yo-yo up and down from the top-flight of English football. Their last appearance in the Premiership League was in 2001, the same year that they moved to their new ground, The Walker Stadium. In 2003 with the club beset by financial problems, the club was bought out of administration by a consortium headed by the former player and club hero, Gary Lineker. Many famous footballers have played for Leicester City, two of whom were international goalkeepers for England, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. Gordon will, of course, always be remembered as one of the World Cup winning team of 1966. Gary Lineker, also an England international at Centre Forward, is probably the player held highest in the affections of The Foxes’ fans. Gary is now a regular presenter for BBC Sport.

Very much inside the city boundary is Leicestershire County Cricket Club, who are also known as The Foxes. They are currently in Division 2 of the ‘Liverpool Victoria’ County Championship. They are also in Division 2 of the ‘Natwest Pro40’ leagues where they play one-day limited overs matches. In the ‘Twenty20’ cup matches, which are played late afternoons and early evenings, the Foxes were the winners of the trophy in 2006 after a thrilling final match against Nottinghamshire. Leicester CC play at the Grace Road ground which was formerly known as the County Ground. Grace Road now has a capacity of 12,000 and is not on the English Cricket Board list of grounds that can host Test (international) cricket matches.

Leicester Riders are the senior basketball club in Leicester and play in the Premier League of the British Basketball League. They style themselves as the oldest basketball  club in Britain being founded in 1967 and founder members of the National (British) Basketball League. Originating as the Loughborough All Stars, after some years of using Loughborough and Leicester as their home base they settled back into Leicester in 2004 and now play at their sponsor’s venue in De Montfort University.

Leicester has several athletics clubs, most notably Leicester Corinthians. For more information please refer to the link provided here. Leicester athletics like to associate themselves with the international distance runner Paula Radcliffe, who runs for Bedford & County to the south of Leicester.

If you fancy seeing if you’d like to try climbing as a sport or hobby, Leicester has the East Midlands’ largest indoor climbing centres at the Tower Climbing Centre.  Here there are several climbing walls with varying degrees of difficulty, the largest of which is 15m. You’ll be welcome here whether you’re an experienced climber wanting to ‘keep your hand in’ or a novice wanting to try it out.

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