Leicester Football Club was formed in August 1880 as an amalgamation of three clubs: Leicester Societies AFC, Leicester Amateur FC and Leicester Alert, playing their first game against Moseley at the Belgrave Cricket and Cycle Ground in their original club colours of black.
It was as early as 1885 that the team took up the Tigers name when the Leicester Daily Post stated that "the Tiger stripes were keeping well together." It is still not certain whether the name came from the brown and yellow kit then worn by the side, or a connection with the local regiment who were nicknamed the Tigers after serving in India.
The club won the Midlands Counties Cup in 1897 and dominated this tournament into the twentieth century, securing eight successive wins up until 1905 when they dropped out "to give other teams a chance".
Growth to the modern era
It was towards the end of the 1970s that Tigers really began to grow. At the start of the decade the club had just 600-700 members and gates less of than 1,000. By end of the '70s, Tigers had reached their first cup final and the club was on its way towards a substantial period of growth.
Supporters and players alike attributed this change in attitude to the presence of Chalkie White, who came to Leicester in 1968. He was a very forward thinking coach with high standards in terms of fitness and tactical awareness. His unique style of coaching brought the team success on the pitch and with that success came an increase in supporter numbers.
The 70s was a fantastic era for the famous Barbarians fixture where, in contrast with the usual 750-2000 spectators, the team played in front of a packed house at Welford Road. In the 1980s, the club still enjoyed the benefits of amateur rugby with nights away and Easter tours, but off the pitch they were taking their first steps towards corporate sponsorship.
The turn of the century saw an impressive run of success for Leicester Tigers as they took the Premiership title for four years in a row from 1998-2002 and became the first team to win the European Cup in successive seasons. In the 2000-2001 season, Tigers made history by winning a Zurich Premiership, Zurich Championship and Heineken Cup treble.
Although the Heineken Cup win of the following year was followed by four seasons without a trophy, including a 45-20 defeat by Sale Sharks in the 2006 Guinness Premiership Final, the North West club's sole domestic trophy to date, Tigers finished the 2006-07 season by coming within 80 minutes of another treble-winning campaign as they fell to defeat in the European Cup Final having secured Guinness Premiership and EDF Energy Cup glory earlier in the year.
Two more Twickenham final appearances followed in the 2007-08 season as Tigers finished runners-up in both domestic competitions. After those near misses, silverware returned to the Welford Road trophy cabinet twelve months later as Tigers beat London Irish in the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham to win the English league for a record eighth time. A week later Tigers reached a fifth Heineken Cup Final, but were pipped at the post by Leinster at Murrayfield.
Tigers topped the Guinness Premiership table again in 2009-10 and successfully defended their English crown with a thrilling victory over Saracens in the final at Twickenham in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd. A late try by England international Dan Hipkiss, on the field as a second-half replacement, allowed skipper Geordan Murphy to lift the silverware for a second successive season and the ninth time in the club's history.
Tigers reached the Premiership Final again in 2011, losing a rematch against Saracens which was only confirmed in the last play of the game. A domestic double proved just out of reach in 2011-12, Tigers lifting the Anglo-Welsh LV= Cup silverware following Final victory over Northampton Saints but just missing out in an eighth successive Premiership Final at Twickenham when Harlequins took the trophy for the first time.
The Tigers' Roll of Honour
European Champions: 2001-2002, 2000-2001
English Champions: 2009-10, 2008-09, 2006-2007, 2001-2002, 2000-2001,
1999-2000, 1998-1999, 1994-1995, 1987-1988
English Cup Winners: 1996-1997, 1992-1993, 1980-1981, 1979-1980, 1978-1979
Anglo-Welsh Cup Winners: 2011-12, 2006-2007
Sale Sharks' Aviva Premiership home game against Leicester Tigers is on Friday 5th October, kick off 8.00pm. Click here to book your tickets online, or call 08444 994 994.
Study our Travel Plan to arrange your journey to the stadium.