Leicester v West Ham - putting football into perspective

PUBLISHED: 18:47 28 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 29 October 2018

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (third right, holding out hand) getting into a helicopter after a match at the King Power Stadium. A helicopter has crashed outside the stadium following the Premier League game against West Ham.

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (third right, holding out hand) getting into a helicopter after a match at the King Power Stadium. A helicopter has crashed outside the stadium following the Premier League game against West Ham.

PA Wire/PA Images

Leicester helicopter crash - a personal account

Leicester City chairmanLeicester City chairman

In the great scheme of things, I guess I need to be thankful to Claude Puel, the Leicester City manager.

If he had answered one more question, if he had got his interpreter to explain something else to him in his press conference then we could have been delayed by a couple of fateful minutes.

He didn’t and we left the stadium as normal and made our way to our car park at the British Gas plant just up the road.

Myself, fellow journalist Steve Blowers and photographer Rob Newell were about 100 yards from the stadium when we heard the Leicester chairman’s helicopter take to the sky from the centre of the pitch.

Leicester City manager Claude Puel during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.Leicester City manager Claude Puel during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.

And within seconds, chaos ensued. The helicopter made a strange noise and then plummeted. It crashed into the car park adjacent to the ground and the next thing we saw was a fireball.

Smoke was everywhere, the fire raged as the police made it to the site in an incredibly quick time, their sirens blaring.

We had been ready to talk about West Ham on the way home.

About Mark Noble’s red card; about the promise of Grady Diangana; the frustration over Felipe Anderson; about a battling rearguard action by the defence which was ended by a wicked deflection.

Leicester helicopter fireLeicester helicopter fire

But all that became irrelevant on a night when people going to football on a Saturday evening did not get to go home again.

We all support different teams, but when things like this happen we can all put things into perspective and come together as football fans.

Like the elderly Brighton fan who lost his life on Saturday; like the collapse of former England manager and Tottenham hero Glenn Hoddle and like the death of Leicester City’s chairman who helped to create one of the greatest moments in football history when the Foxes won the Premier League, it brings us all together.

The three of us managed to get to our car and away from the crash scene as quickly as we could, the fire still raging nearby.

Rob didn’t want to take pictures, even if he could have made lots of money out of them. The thought of it made him feel sick.

Steve warned someone still inside the press room that they may be delayed in getting out.

People phoned me to make sure I was all right, to make sure I hadn’t been caught up in the devastation at the King Power Stadium.

I had, but I and my two colleagues had been lucky. The West Ham fans who had left the ground on the final whistle had been lucky.

They all got to go home that night and think about the clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.

That Brighton fan didn’t get to go home; Hoddle remains in the hospital and a hugely popular, hugely successful Leicester owner, who had brought so much joy to a club and a city, didn’t get to go home either.

The legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

But of course that is not true and last weekend illustrated that perfectly.


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