Leicester City v Wolves, Division One, 1993
My favourite match ~ Matt Potter recalls watching his first professional game, in which Iwan Roberts scored two goals and missed a sitter for Leicester on his debut
On my first day at secondary school our new history teacher broke the ice with an exercise. He asked each of us to tell him a little something about ourselves, notably our likes and dislikes. Pretty straightforward, I thought, even for an 11-year-old. Yet, apparently, I wasn't thinking strategically.
"Don't tell him you like football," Andy, my best mate, said just before my turn came. "He'll think you're a moron."
Despite his pretence, Andy was a die-hard football fan whose dad had season tickets at Leicester City. That's how we ended up at Filbert Street one Saturday afternoon in 1993 for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It was a game notable for two things: it was the first professional football match my 13-year-old self had ever attended; and it was the debut of Welsh striker Iwan Roberts, a recent signing from Huddersfield for £300,000.
Roberts went on to score 41 goals in 100 games for the Foxes. He drove them to promotion via the play-offs that season. I remember there was a buzz around the ground concerning his arrival, but I was more interested in soaking in the new experience.
I had been to football matches before, but no higher up the pyramid than the Beazer Homes Midland Division. The professional game was a different world. I had never seen so many people in one place. There was a full-colour programme, complete with a cheesy comic strip called Mitty of the City. Grown men were swaying drunkenly, belting out foul-mouthed ditties right in front of me.
Most of the abuse was directed towards Wolves striker Steve Bull. "Bull-shit, Bull-shit!" chanted the Leicester fans as the ex-England man warmed up in front of us. Bull, it turns out, wasn't shit. His first-half brace gave the visitors a 2-0 lead at the interval.
Half-time was a grim affair. Men muttered around us, while Andy nibbled balefully on a cheese pasty and his father composed his weekly letter of complaint to Brian Little. This letter-writing ritual went on for months, until the day the City manager wrote back and asked him to stop.
Things were slow to improve. Early in the second half, the ball sat up for Leicester skipper Gary Mills on the edge of the area. "Shoot!" urged thousands of Leicester fans. "Don't shoot!" squeaked the voice next to me. Mills shot, and his effort was saved. "Moron!" Andy said. "You tell him not to shoot and what does he do?"
Leicester seemed destined for defeat, but Roberts had other ideas. He pulled back a goal with a towering back-post header, then hoofed an equaliser into the roof of the net after a miscued effort by David Speedie. That's how the game ended.
Memory being what it is, I don't recall either of Roberts's goals. Instead, the wonder of YouTube allows me to describe them. But I do remember him missing a golden opportunity late on, blazing over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Andy remembers it too. Almost 20 years have passed since that day. I went to live in America and he's in Spain, but we still talk regularly. Recently, I reminded him of this match. "Ah yes," he noted. "The game when Roberts missed from the goal-line." Indeed. The moron.