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Editor’sComment There are few occasions in life, let alone sport, when you can class yourself as a champion. In Leicestershire, we have the luxury and the honour of being littered with champions. And for that we should be loud and proud of what they have achieved. Envied and revered by the rest of the country, Leicester Tigers defied the odds and the loss of their coach Heineke Meyer, to win their league, the play-offs and come within a whisker of conquering Europe. The epitome of the Tigers’ bright future is Jordan Crane, whose obvious ability and enthusiasm came to the fore at the right time. His interview is a must read. We must not forget Leicester City either. Just over twelve months ago the club was engulfed with despair after the heart-breaking last day relegation at Stoke. What a difference a year has made and the return to the Championship could not be timed better with celebrations planned for the club’s 125th anniversary already underway. Mr Leicester City himself, Alan Birchenall MBE, has seen more than most at Filbert Street and Filbert Way. His assessment of current boss, Nigel Pearson, on pages 18, 19 and 20 suggests that this may not be the end of the success for the Foxes. And it doesn’t stop there. Nicky Shaw and Rob Paternostro. One won the women’s cricket World Cup for England, the other won British Basketball’s Coach of the Year in his first season of coaching. What other city or county can lay claim to such an embarrassment of winners? If these people and their successes don’t inspire you to watch, play, coach, or officiate within sport in Leicestershire, then nothing will. It’s the summer. Take advantage of the diverse sporting options around you, get involved and be proud of our Leicester heroes.

Lineup 08 Nicky Shaw 10 Leicester Blue Sox 12 Rob Paternostro 16 Kabaddi 18 Alan Birchenall 21 Sporting Directory 22 ICON: Willie Thorne 26 Joe Hanney 28 LR Sport 30 Dean Hodgkin 32 NHS Stop Smoking 36 Highcross Leicester 40 Motoring 42 Handmade Burger 42 42 Company 44 Leicester Beer 44 44 44 Gardens 47 Summer Sundae 48 SoarPoint: 46 Jordan Crane 52 InPictures

Dean Eldredge Editor

The copyright of all material is owned by Soar Media Ltd and may not be reproduced or published without prior consent. Soar Media Ltd take no responsibility for the claims made by advertisers, nor all of the views expressed by contributors.

Soar Magazine is produced by Soar Media Ltd LCB Depot, 31 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RE T: 0116 2616 892 E: Editorial Director: Dean Eldredge Creative Director: Gary Webster Cover Photos: Neil Plumb & Tiger Images Photos: Soar Photo Print: Soar Print Website: Soar Media

Contributors: Paul Dhillon, Joe Hanney, Laura Heatherley, Dean Hodgkin, Andy Osborne, Jon Reeves & Ian Strachan Thanks to: Alan Birchenall, Upesh Chauhan, Jordan Crane, Russell Levenston, Rob Paternostro, Nicky Shaw, Gary Sherrard, Adam Smith, Willie Thorne, Paul Velinski, Steve Walsh & Rob Wann




















Photo: Neil Plumb Photography

SHAWTHING Cricket World Cup winner, Nicky Shaw, speaks about her role at Loughborough University, the future of women’s cricket and the game of her life… A few minutes before this year’s World Cup Final match, Loughborough-based Nicky Shaw wasn’t even in the first eleven. Despite being the team’s vicecaptain she found herself out of favour and contemplating missing the biggest game of her career until her team-mate and friend, Jenny Gunn, told the coaches she was unable to play. That was Nicky’s chance and how she took it. Five wickets, an impressive 17 run stand and player of the match award later and England were World Champions.

we won against the bigger teams like Australia and New Zealand, so everything seemed to fit.” The final’s ‘player of the match’ didn’t feel nervous going into the tournament and admits the squad had no idea of the coverage they were receiving in the UK.

“When we returned, the realisation of how much focus was on us and how much was expected was massive. I’m glad we didn’t feel that during the tournament.” When looking back on how she nearly missed the game, Nicky is philosophical.

“We were unbeaten in something like 17 games going into the tournament and it felt like it was our time. Preparation started after the last World Cup in 2005, when we were knocked out in the semifinals by Australia. There was an increase in the amount of games

Photos: Christopher Lee

“I got dropped for the Kiwi game earlier in the tournament, as they decided to play two spinners and the girl who replaced me ended up being the lead wicket taker. I got my chance because Laura was injured. I was gutted for her but she was big enough to say ‘I can’t play’. It was tough, but it gave me my chance and it was my day.”

into schools, making sure girls keep playing, as well as boys, and those participation rates have increased by 47% in girls alone.” Nicky believes the women’s game has huge potential to grow. “We can play the same shots as the guys, maybe not as hard or as far, but in similar areas. We hit sixes and bowl 75mph. It is a good game to watch and I’d now like to see more people come and support us.”

After almost missing out on the final, Shaw was determined not to let the game pass her by. “I wasn’t sure if I was playing but prepared as though I was. The fact that I performed well had more to do with wanting to prove a point to the people who dropped me, so I had that edge. It’s the World Cup final and you don’t want to have any regrets in a game like that.” Nicky admits that luck played its part in her performance. “I didn’t put every ball where I wanted to. They edged a few of my balls and Katherine Brunt was bowling fantastically at the other end and must have passed the edge of the bat at least 15 times, but you work as a partnership.” Nicky also turned in an impressive performance with the bat. “I was in the zone when I was batting. The pressure never even entered my head. It was about concentration, whereas in bowling you’ve got a lot of people around you and there’s more luck involved.” Shaw expects more success in the future as the team focus on achieving their goals. “There are few times when we disagree about anything but we’re not afraid to tell each other how we feel about a performance. You don’t often get that honesty in a team, when you can be quite harsh with somebody and they don’t hold it

As well as coaching and improving youth cricket in Leicestershire and on the international stage, Nicky is focused on short-term goals.

“We can play the same shots as the guys... we hit sixes and bowl 75mph. It is a good game to watch” against you. Women tend to hold grudges for a long time and we don’t have that in our team. We play hard cricket on the field and we’re good mates off it.”

“It would be amazing to win the World Twenty20, especially with it being the first one in England and the first we’ve been part of. Imagine winning at Lord’s in front of a capacity crowd? Then to go on to retain the Ashes again for the third time would be something special. After that it’s a case of getting back into county cricket and trying to fit everything around my job here at the University.” If anyone can handle the challenge, it’s Nicky, who wasn’t a certainty to play in the World Cup final, but remains a Shaw thing for the future of women’s cricket.

The success seems to be encouraging more girls to take up the sport. “Women’s cricket is growing all the time. A few of us have got coaching contracts and part of my job is to dedicate five hours a week to Leicestershire, although that seems to be increasing a little bit, and I’ve also got a full-time job here at Loughborough University.” “These coaching contracts mean that the England girls can coach 25 hours a week, get a decent wage and then have time off to play cricket. It is putting something back

Blue Sox on their feet Baseball has come a long way since the days of All-American heroes like Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth. All the way to Leicester in fact. Soar Magazine sent Paul Dhillon to find out more… Like your average British sports fan, Mark Meredith had only a passing knowledge of baseball, until a 1993 trip to Miami. There he discovered the sport and the atmosphere that goes with it, whilst going for a dubious ‘quiet couple of drinks’ in a bar during a World Series game. Meredith brought his enthusiasm for the game home and began to play an active part after learning of the small, yet committed baseball community in the UK. Following stints with the Birmingham Maple Leafs and the Sileby Vikings, Mark

took the plunge and led a huge recruitment drive, including radio and newspaper adverts, to establish the Leicester Blue Sox. During a trying training year in 2006, prior to joining the BBF Midlands League, the club were suspended from their first home in Mountsorrel after local residents took exception to being rained on by wayward hits. By the end of 2007, things were

looking up, with the tireless efforts of Mark, team member Shaun Hill and help from the Leicester City Council, the Blue Sox found their current residency at Western Park. This stable footing with scope for improved facilities, including a permanent backstop fixture, meant Meredith was confident his side were on the ‘home run’. England’s eighth biggest city had a baseball team and a certain identity started to develop, to Mark’s delight: “We have blue jerseys, I’m a Leicester fan and those colours were easily adopted!” It was not plain sailing, however, as the side were ravaged by injuries during the 2008 campaign. “It didn’t go how we had planned. We had a lot of injuries to key players and we never really recovered.” Things have been tough in the early part of this season too. The Blue Sox currently prop up the BBF Midlands division in fifth place, although the club only have to move

up to fourth to secure a play-off spot. Meredith is optimistic that the side will secure a respectable finish by the close of season in August. Although respect for opponents is high on his agenda, he speaks of how well-drilled Birmingham appear, yet Mark is not short of self-belief either. “We must beat the Birmingham Maple Leafs and the Milton Keynes Bucks on a regular basis. I know the squad and the players and they are competitors just like me. I didn’t create this squad to be alsorans and the play-offs are a real possibility. Come the end of August I expect us to be in third place.” Asked where he sees the side going in the coming years, Meredith’s focus falls not on stashes of silverware, but the development of the club as a multi-faceted, highly structured and sustainable entity. “I’ve got my development team as well as the first team and looking ahead I hope to have the kids’ team set up within two years.” The thought of playing host to more Midlands rivals excites Meredith too. “Hopefully we are going to see teams from places like Nottingham and Derby emerge. We want people from those places to look at us and think ‘If Leicester can do it, then why not us?’”

offering is totally free and we have been working in conjunction with BaseballSoftballUK (the sport’s development agency in the UK) to give young people a new focus and keep them off the streets. It will keep the game sustainable for the future.” Meredith’s 2009 draft includes two Canadians, one of whom has Minor

“I don’t mind if you’ve never played any similar sports before, just come and have a look!” League Experience, two Americans, and players from Central American baseball hotspots, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. There are also players with a history of excelling at other sports, including two former Leicester Panthers American football players. Despite the esteemed role call in the current squad, Meredith insists no experience is necessary. “Come and try it, it’s as simple as that. I don’t mind if you’ve never played any similar sports before, just come and have a look!” Over the Atlantic, in the home of the questionably titled ‘World Series’

(involving only teams from the US and Canada), the sport is going through a difficult time. Allegations of doping are rife. Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez’s recent admission of steroid use even drew derision from President Obama, who branded it a “depressing incident for the sport”. In Leicester, there is a reason for optimism with determined, forwardthinking characters, like Meredith, who are an important part of this developing sport. Interested? Touch base with the Leicester Blue Sox by visiting or e-mailing

Apart from his considerable local pride, the underlying sentiment conveyed by Meredith is a passionate drive to get more people, young and old, involved with the game he loves. “I want to get children playing baseball in the county and the city. I have been in touch with a number of schools and I’m waiting for a response. What we are


ROB OF THE RIDERS In his first year as a coach, Rob Paternostro led the unfancied DMU Jelson Holmes Leicester Riders through a rollercoaster season that resulted in the club’s highest ever league finish, a trip to the play-off finals and the British Basketball League Coach of the Year award. Not exactly an average start to management, but then Paternostro is far from an average guy… “If you spoke with my grandparents or parents they’d say that I’m the kind of person who wears his heart on his sleeve and my whole family are like that. I can’t control the way I am, it’s natural. I’m passionate, it’s in my genes, and it’s the way I’ll always be.” Ask any Riders fan what Paternostro is about and you’re likely to get the same response; animated, intelligent and a winner. Qualities that were in short supply for Riders, who have been through a barren patch in recent seasons. A trend that Paternostro was determined to amend. “The first objective was for us to be competitive. I made it clear from the start that I didn’t want us to set statistical goals, but I wanted us to produce a quality product for our fans, to entertain them and to make them proud.” Which is exactly what they did, finishing third in the BBL (British

Basketball League), beating Sheffield 72-71 in a pulsating playoff quarter-final thanks to a heartstopping three-pointer from Bradd Wierzbicki, before losing to eventual play-off runners-up, Everton Tigers. “This year the fire within the guys was burning strongly. They saw my passion and they matched it. What a group we have here at Leicester, they really are something. They absolutely hate to lose and they get on so well. We’d come in to training and someone would have a hole in their shirt and we’d all be laughing. The next minute they’d all be laughing at me. That relationship helped us to stick together and work for each other.” Such unity was essential in a season that saw the team lose topscorer and point-guard, Matt Martin, to a coaching role in America, numerous injuries to key players such as Phil Missere and Wierzbicki, whilst working with a new group of players and a relatively small budget. “I think that the summer recruitment was the key factor in our success this season. We had a group of intelligent, hard-working players, with the versatility required to deal with whatever was thrown at them.

“This year the fire within the guys was burning strongly. They saw my passion and they matched it.” They are talented and they deserve the credit they have been given.”

coach. But this fiery, yet articulate play-caller is no flash in the pan.

The modest 36-year-old, who played one season for Riders in 2006/07, is as quick to praise those who have made a difference off-court, as the players that have achieved so much on it, whilst airing a note of caution.

“I was at the park all the time as a youngster and I have always been around sport, so I was aware of the many roles within the game. Let me make this clear, playing is as good as it gets, but whilst playing I often thought about coaching and I’m grateful to Leicester for giving me the opportunity. Now I’m determined to make a success of this.”

“We must not get carried away. The team had been struggling for quite a while, but the work of people like General Manager, Russell Levenston and Kevin Routledge, who has been at the club for 35 years, have ensured an exciting future. I like what I have seen on and off the floor, but, and this is a big but, we must all be patient as we are attempting to build gradual success at Riders and then sustain it.” The intensity and dedication of Paternostro to his role at Riders is clear. He believes in the club and is desperate to achieve success as a

And he was just two matches away from lifting the BBL play-off trophy for the first time since Billy Mims’ side achieved the play-off and cup double in the 2000-01 season. Since then Riders failed to make it past the play-off quarter-finals and in most seasons failed to reach the play-offs at all. Add to this the threat of liquidation in 2007 and you can see why the love-affair between Paternostro and the fans exists.


league. They really did bond with the players too. I urge them to keep doing what they are doing and I promise we’ll give them our all and entertain.” So how does Paternostro aim to reproduce his first year success and attempt to bring some silverware back to the John Sandford Sports Centre?

“When I was playing for the Birmingham Bullets I was not particularly well liked by the Riders fans, but I did once get a standing ovation when I returned to Leicester to play for the Birmingham Panthers. Riders fans are knowledgeable and passionate. They have had to deal with some pretty lean times here but this season they created the best atmosphere and most impact in the

“I would hesitate to state what the difference was between winning the play-offs and missing out like we did. You could be the greatest coach, or greatest player, but this is a team sport. We have already begun the long process of ensuring that we retain this year’s team and will be striving to go one step further. How we do that will be the challenge.” Coaching seems to be a natural fit for Rob, almost a role that he was

“Riders fans are knowledgeable and passionate... they created the best atmosphere and most impact in the league.”

born to do, but after just a year as the boss, is it all that he expected? “I love being so involved and having the chance to be a big part of the camaraderie, but it’s important to know when to step away from the players. The role is all-consuming and you never stop thinking about your team, the next game, or what might have been.” Riders fans will be concerned that Paternostro’s debut achievements may have caught the attention of larger clubs, with the budgets to tempt him, and his star charges, away from Leicester. But he seems more than happy in the Midlands. “There is so much potential in this city. I think back to the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards and how much achievement there is in this city. I want to publicly praise the City manager, Nigel Pearson and the Tigers coach, Richard Cockerill for their success this season, which is great for all Leicester sports fans.” Who, after this ‘Roy of the Rovers’ season, would bet against Rob joining his football and rugby counterparts next year and ending the decade with a trophy for the Riders? For up-to-date information on Leicester Riders and to secure a season-ticket to watch Rob and his team in action visit


KABADDI KING By Andrew Osborne

“There are some big guys who can lift weights but they can’t play. If you see a player getting slapped and going down you wonder how he’ll get up.” The Blue Peter Club on Belgrave Road, Leicester, is an unlikely venue to be the nerve centre of English Kabaddi, but it is here that the imposing figure of Piara Singh Randhawa combines his roles as restaurateur, President of Leicester Kabaddi Club and Senior VicePresident of the England Kabaddi Federation. Randhawa is an elder statesman of the Kabaddi scene and after thirty-five years involvement his devotion to the sport is evident as he gears up for a major tournament to be staged in Leicester later this summer.


“I am looking forward to it and we hope to have plenty of spectators for a good competition with some great teams taking part.” As well as leading Leicester to domestic success, Randhawa is proud of having guided teams abroad for international

competitions. The most notable successes came in the 1980’s when teams touring Canada returned victorious. These achievements resulted in participation in Kabaddi’s World Cup. Although the sport briefly developed a cult following of early risers when it was screened on Channel 4 in the early 1990’s, it is not recognised by the mainstream media. Nevertheless, Kabaddi’s devotees continue to persevere. The sport is in good health with around twenty events held in England each year. Whilst explaining the rules and objectives of Kabaddi, Randhawa’s enthusiasm and knowledge is obvious. For the unversed of us, two teams of ten take turns to send a man known as a ‘raider’ into the opponent’s half, where his aim is to

touch a defender or ‘blocker’ and return to his own half within a 30 second time limit, thus scoring a point for his team.

The dream will be a step closer if Kabaddi’s inclusion in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as a demonstration sport, in New Delhi, proves to be a success. Randhawa is hopeful that England will be admitted to the event.

The defending side must attempt to stop the raider returning to his half by holding him until the thirty seconds is up. Matters are further complicated by the rule which requires raiders to hold their breath and chant ‘Kabaddi, Kabaddi, Kabaddi’. Kabaddi is not a sport for the faint hearted and serious dedication is required to reach a competitive level. This makes it difficult for hard working amateurs to compete with those who dedicate their lives to an intense training regime, having played at a high level since their youth. “It’s simple,” explains Randhawa, “The more matches you play, the better you get, but we can’t play in the winter. In India, they play for nine or ten months of the year so have more stamina and skill.” Kabaddi is one of numerous sports hoping to be granted Olympic status and the sport’s governing bodies have taken steps to increase levels of professionalism, particularly regarding the use of banned substances. As a result, players are developing alternative methods of gaining the upper hand. However, these too have been subject to scrutiny. Players have been known to shower, cover themselves in oil and shower again to become slippery and difficult to hold. This is forbidden, yet shaving is allowed. “Not just for tactical reasons, but shaving helps us to look good! We are planning on getting Kabaddi into the Olympics but it is going to take time. The sport is more professional now as people are paid big money and all they do is play Kabbadi.”

Whilst a more professional approach increases the intensity of the competition, it offers new challenges to Randhawa and other provincial teams in England with limited budgets. The problems faced by Kabaddi mirror those of more mainstream sports.

“We are planning on getting Kabaddi into the Olympics but it is going to take time. The sport is more professional now as people are paid big money and all they do is play Kabbadi.”

“We used to have all Leicester boys playing for us, not guys from India, America or Canada, but things have changed.” The sentiments in his remarks are strikingly similar to those espoused by followers of our country’s major sports; that it would be good to return to the days when our football, cricket and rugby teams were made up of local boys rising through the ranks to represent the first team. “We have a lot of youngsters playing in England and in Leicester itself, but teams with money have started paying players from other countries. These players grew up training for three hours in the morning and then train again at night. It is impossible for someone working for eight hours a day to do the same.” One thing is for sure though. As long as there are men like Piara Singh Randhawa, who are prepared to devote time and money to organise teams and events, then this fascinating sport will play an integral part in the lives of those who have grown to love it. As for Sky or the BBC battling for exclusive television rights, I wouldn’t hold your breath. For more information on Piara and Leicester Kabaddi contact Soar on 0116 2616 892 or


Photo: Leicester Mercury

Mr Leicester City Around 38 years ago, Alan Birchenall had his first club picture taken at Leicester City’s Belvoir Drive training ground after signing from Crystal Palace. Nobody, least of all ‘The Birch’ himself, could’ve predicted the impact he would have on the club, nearly four decades later...

Well known for his role as Club Ambassador and his charity work, it shouldn’t be forgotten that ‘The Birch’ could play a bit too. In his six years wearing the blue shirt, Birchenall made 156 appearances, scoring 12 goals and played a vital role in arguably the most entertaining team the club has produced. Soar caught up with ‘Mr Leicester City’ to talk about his playing career, the club’s ups and downs and being awarded the Freedom of the City… “After the last four or five seasons, it’s been like a breath of fresh air. Just over a year ago we were in the depths of despair, but now the atmosphere is fantastic.” “It was a big ask, but we bounced back. The chairman stood by the club and gave Nigel the backing. It was a magnificent achievement when you consider Nottingham Forest took three years to get promoted.”

“Nigel Pearson... I’ve seen 17 managers here and he’s in the top three in terms of his presence” as dour as that?” I tell you, Nigel Pearson behind the scenes is a character. He has that presence about him. I’ve seen 17 managers here and he’s in the top three in terms of his presence.”

with the Freedom of the City. It’s a great honour. I’ve always said I was adopted in 1971 when I came here. To get the Freedom of the City, alongside the list of other recipients was mind boggling. I was so proud.”

Trying to put into words exactly what the club means to Birchenall reveals the man’s passion for Leicester City.

“They all take the mickey about the award in the local. The barmaids curtsey and if they don’t get my pint straight away, I say I’ll get them put in the stocks!”

“It’s become my life. I can’t imagine not being involved with this club and I will be until I take my dying breath. I love it. I’ve been coming down here for four decades. I’ve seen promotion, relegation, administration and players and managers come and go. The club means everything to me. I just wake up and think Leicester City.”

Alan has been impressed with the manager and his influence on the club.

Alan’s recognition both in the city and at Buckingham Palace have been largely due to his charity work, but he remains modest about his involvement.

“Nigel’s done a fantastic job. People come up to me and ask, “Is he

“I was awarded the MBE on the back of this club and it’s the same

Looking back at his playing days, Alan finds it hard to pick out the highlights. “I can honestly say I never came off the pitch in my 18 years without having a laugh. I came out with an umbrella once in the rain against Arsenal, wore a bobble hat and gave pies out when someone went down injured!” Giving the fans memories and something to take away from the game was always a priority for Birch. “For me, football’s about entertainment. I know times have changed and there’s a lot at stake now. Although we didn’t win anything under Jimmy Bloomfield, we did entertain. Martin O’Neill used to give me stick when he was here, he said, “I’m fed up of hearing about the ‘Bloomfield boys’ Birchy, you never won anything.” “Martin’s teams went into Europe and won League Cups and I couldn’t argue with him over that. But we were flamboyant, we played with a smile on our faces and City fans that are old enough to remember those days always say what a great side that was.”

Photo: Neil Plumb Photography

“People would come to Filbert


era to play in. It was a dream and I lived it.” After coming to the club as a striker, Alan spent just one season up front before converting to a midfield role. “The first nine years of my career I was a striker. I came here and had a terrible first season. I said to Jimmy Bloomfield that I’d like to play midfield after ten years of getting kicked. Tackling from behind was obligatory in my day and when you’ve got Jackie Charlton, Norman Hunter and ‘Chopper’ Harris all having a pop at you, you get bruised!”

Street and even if we lost they’d walk away saying, ‘Did you see that bit of skill from Worthington?’, ‘Did you see Glover, Stringfellow and Sammels?’ They were great days.”

“I played in front of the back four and let Weller and Sammels go. I just sat there and controlled midfield. I was probably a bit like Neil Lennon under Martin O’Neill a few years ago.”

As well as playing with some top class talent, Birch also faced some of the game’s all-time greats.

As well as relishing City’s success, Alan has a passion for developing sport throughout Leicestershire.

“The best players I played against were Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. I was playing for the chairman’s club, San Jose Earthquakes, against the New York Cosmos at the Giants Stadium and there were 66,000 people there. The coach at the time told me to mark Pele and I thought, ‘Oh fantastic!’ After about ten minutes they had a corner. When it came into the box, I’m at the far post, Pele just rises above me and plonks this header straight back into the far corner. I came in at half-time and the coach gave me a rollicking, he said: “I gave you a job to mark Pele, and you didn’t do it. You’re off Pele!” I thought, ‘Thank Christ for that’. He said, “Second half you can mark Beckenbauer!”

“It’s a great sporting county which is something to be proud of. Let’s become the capital of sport, not just for Britain but for the whole of Europe. We’ve got some of the best sporting teams, let’s have the facilities to go with it and give the youth in the city something to focus on.”

“There was also Georgie Best, Charlton and Law, Tony Currie and Osgood at Chelsea, there were some great players around. The late 60’s and early 70’s was a great

“We’re hosting the Special Olympics this year. I’m an ambassador and it’s brought it home to me that sport brings everybody together. I’ve got all these things in the back of my mind for when I become Mayor! After my gong and the Freedom of the City award, anything is possible!” Even though Birch was joking about being Mayor, he certainly has the passion for the job and this was highlighted in his latest run at the Walkers Stadium, which was his 29th.

“I’ve been retiring every year but always end up doing it again. We’ve raised nearly £750,000 for Leicester charities over the years.” “The £75,000 we raised for Keith Weller really touched me. Keith, for me, was one of the top five greatest Leicester City players ever. We couldn’t prevent his terminal illness but we prolonged his life so he could see his grandson and that was Leicester City supporters. I want to thank the fans and the Leicester people in general for their support over the years.” The Birch is also relishing the 125 year anniversary of the club next season. “People say it’s all about now, but it’s also about 125 years of this football club. Arthur Rowley, Peter Shilton, Gordon Banks, Gary Lineker, Frank Worthington, Keith Weller, Steve Walsh and Muzzy Izzet. For me to be part of this club for the last 38 years has been a privilege and an honour.” One name missing from that list is that of Alan Birchenall MBE, Mr Leicester City.

All time City XI Manager: Jimmy Bloomfield





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ICON One of snooker’s great characters, famed for his break-building, attacking play and good sense of humour, Willie Thorne became a star of the sport in the 80’s and 90’s. Mr Maximum answered your questions about his career, the state of the modern game and his Strictly Come Dancing experience…

How often do you play snooker now? Jack Jenkins, Wigston I don’t play at all. I haven’t played for ten years really. I just do the odd trick shot when I’m doing after dinner speaking and things like that. Retiring was probably the best thing to do as I was getting beaten by people I shouldn’t have lost to. When I was good, I was excellent, but when I was bad I was hopeless. What was your proudest career moment? Chris Palmer, Glen Parva You’d think it would be winning my first tournament, but it probably wasn’t as everybody had built it up saying, “When is Willie going to win a tournament?” I was expecting some sort of euphoria when I won my first Mercantile but that didn’t happen. I won 13 tournaments but the Mercantile was the only major. Making my first 147 in a tournament was as good as anything. Out of the current crop of players, who do you enjoy watching? Tim Beckett, Leicester I love watching Shaun Murphy, who’s very close to me and I work

Willie Thorne

Photo: Champions UK

with him on his break building. I still like watching Hendry and O’Sullivan is obviously a genius. Mark Selby is the one for me though. He’s improved out of all proportion. I’ve known Mark since he was 14 when he first came into my club in Leicester. He can definitely win the World Championship and I’d put him in the top two or three players tactically in the World.

time in the press.

Where did the nickname Mr. Maximum came from? Wendy Brooks, Rutland It’s people messing around about the number of 147 breaks I made. I made 198 of them before I retired. It was a nickname that came from Gary Lineker. I had 38 147’s against Gary and it was a wind up every

Was there any player that you had a rivalry with? Mukesh, Birmingham Playing players that everybody thought were slow, like Cliff Thorburn or Terry Griffiths, I did well. I never lost to Griffiths. I had a good record against him and Dennis Taylor. I think Dennis beat me once

Who was the greatest player you faced? Steve Bell, Hinckley Ronnie O’Sullivan. The best match player was Steve Davis, the best break-builder, Steven Hendry and the best for natural ability, Ronnie O’Sullivan. If they all played at their best, Ronnie O’Sullivan would win.

in about 12 games. I had a good record against Davis too. When you play somebody like that you’ve got to play well. I only had one way of playing, and that was knocking the balls in. Do you enjoy the TV work? Dave Collins, Narborough After I stopped playing I would’ve found it difficult not being involved in snooker. The BBC stuff means that I’m involved with the players and keeping up with the modern game. I miss playing, but I don’t miss the practice. Tell us about your Strictly Come Dancing experience? Patricia King, Leicester It was the greatest experience of my life and it wasn’t until I finished that I realised how much I’d enjoyed it. I danced with Erin Boag who’d danced with Martin Offiah, Peter Schmeichel and Colin Jackson. They were all fitness fanatics and then she had to lump me around! She was lovely and we’re close friends. On the day I went out I finished fourth. It was a blessing in disguise though, because if I’d stayed in I would’ve been wearing pink Lycra doing the samba!

What is your opinion on Ronnie O’Sullivan’s comments that snooker is a dying sport? Darren O’Brien, Ratby If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Ronnie’s saying it is because of the lack of crowds, but look at cricket, if it’s not Twenty20 then nobody is there and in football if it’s not Man United then you get empty seats. The World Championships were outstanding and at the last eight I didn’t know who was going to win. I remember watching you play at ‘Osborne’s’ snooker club in Leicester before you were famous. Didn’t your parents own the ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ pub on the Braunstone estate? It was one of the toughest pubs in Leicester and your dad was as hard as nails… Roger Henson, Braunstone I learnt how to play at Osborne’s. I went there and quickly found out that I was poor compared to some of the players there. Brian Cakebread, who recently passed away, was a regular century break player and after playing with him it took me about a year to become the best in Leicester, then the best in the Midlands. It was down to Brian

ICON and Osborne’s that I improved. The ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ was one of the toughest pubs in Leicester. My dad was quite rough and ready, but he wanted to change things and he renamed it ‘The Falcon’ and it became a nice pub. I had a snooker table put in one of the rooms and used to practice there. What does Leicester mean to you? Carol McClean, Evington It’s my life. I was born and bred here and my parents are from Anstey. I count myself as a Leicester person and regardless of where I end up I’ll always look for Leicester results first, whether it is football, cricket or rugby. What is your guilty pleasure? Brian Moler, Leicester My guilty pleasure is gambling which has been a problem for me and it still can be. Now and again I want to have a bet, but at the time I was gambling, I was earning plenty of money. It’s not quite the same now, I still earn a good living but it’s not what it was and I can’t afford to lose the money that I used to. For more information on Willie Thorne visit the website of his representatives

Send your questions in for the next instalment of ICON, featuring former Paralympian and British Men’s number one Wheelchair Tennis legend Jayant Mistry to by August 1st.



In association with:


VITALSIGNS Leicester’s award winning weight loss company, Results Weight Loss, are currently working towards developing a health and fitness wellbeing service that offers equal access to deaf people. Managing director, Joe Hanney, named International Personal Trainer of the Year 2008, is working hard in developing the necessary skills to be able to speak to deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deafblind people. Hanney, who has been improving his signing skills, is proud to offer the service. “All of my clients have different requirements that are unique to them. Learning sign language and helping people with hearing difficulties to get fit and healthy is something I’m extremely passionate about.”

“The fitness programmes I put together are specifically designed to meet the individual’s needs and communication is a vital part of getting the message of health and fitness across.” National Deaf Awareness Week took place from Monday May 4th through to Sunday May 10th in Leicester and Action Deafness held a Deaf Festival to celebrate at 135 Welford Road. Joe closed the event with a fun and easy workout demonstrating the sign-language skills he has developed and can offer to potential clients.

Joe is a regular contributor and fitness expert to the media and also advises at obesity and weight management clinics. He is also the International Personal Trainer of the Year 2008 and an Ambassador of the Special Olympics 2009. He is currently holding regular seminars in and around Leicester. For more information on Joe contact 0844 8442471, or e-mail


This summer’s East Midlands Airport Leicester-Shire and Rutland Youth Games has been launched following an event at the Airport’s Aeropark on Friday May 15th, 2009.

Youth Games set for Take Off Held at Loughborough University, the Youth Games start on Sunday June 28th, lasting for two days. It will be made up of approximately 2,000 young athletes from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The annual event is now in its eleventh year and it’s the sixth year that the airport has been the headline sponsor. This year, for the first time ever, the inaugural ‘Inclusive Youth Games’ for young disabled athletes will take place, also at the University, on the following Tuesday, June 30th. Both games will offer young people a wide variety of sports to participate in, incorporating 16 competitions in 10 sports on the Sunday, and nine competitions in seven sports on the Tuesday. The Games began in 1999 in preparation for the millennium celebrations and have continued

every year since, increasing in size and popularity. Each local authority’s Sports Development Team and each School Partnership in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland work in their borough’s sporting community, through schools and sports clubs to represent their area. The selection process for the teams is dependant on the sport and the resources available. Andy Reed MP, the Chairman of Leicester-Shire and Rutland Sport, who attended the launch of the

event, said: “The Leicester-Shire and Rutland Youth Games is a fantastic annual event, providing an opportunity for young people around Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland to compete. I would like to thank East Midlands Airport for their continued support and I am looking forward to seeing two great days of sporting action in June.” Anyone interested in taking part in the Youth Games as a participant, coach or volunteer, should contact their local district Sports Development Officer for the Sunday Games, and their local Partnership Development Manager for the Tuesday Games. The Games will provide trophies for the winning teams and medals for all competitors. For further information visit sportsdevelopmentcontacts and

KEEP ON TRACK ONLINE! > Want to keep a track of your activity levels? > Want to set yourself targets for the coming months? > Want to find out about participation events that are taking place in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland? Log onto the “TRAINING DIARY� at

Promoting physical activity for adults across Leicestershire The Active Together Programme is a county wide project that aims to encourage more adults in Leicestershire to take part in at least thirty minutes of physical activity, at least three days a week. There are a whole host of low cost activities taking place in your local area including salsa, Nordic walks, urban street dance, dodgeball, yoga, gentle aerobics, tai chi and lots more. To find out what is happening in your area check out



By Dean Hodgkin

You’ve waited all year for your much deserved beach holiday so the last thing you want is to feel guilty about taking a break from your exercise programme and the effect this will have on you. Fear not, Soar is on hand to help keep your fitness on track...

Research has shown that intensity rather than duration is the key to aiding your weight loss and shape-changing goals. Experts at Loughborough University have also established that the benefits of exercise can be accumulated throughout the day. If we consider a dip in the pool here and short bike ride there, topped off with a sunset walk, suddenly the road to fitness doesn’t seem so arduous. Dr Andrew Jones, exercise physiologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, suggests: “Moderate exercisers who cut back while still keeping active will only experience minimal losses in fitness level.” The key is to weaving short bursts of activity into your day and when better to do this than on holiday? This could be the perfect time to discover a new hobby and enjoy the selfconfidence boost associated with mastering a new skill. Exercise in the great outdoors is not something we ‘Brits’ are well known for. We know the Scandinavians ski to the shops and the Australians amble around Ayers Rock, but powerwalking on a wet Wednesday in Wigston doesn’t seem to have the same appeal. However, a study at James Cook University, in Queensland, revealed there are great mood uplifting gains to be made from exercising outdoors. Making the most of your holiday requires a little extra planning, so check out the Soar blueprint for fun in the sun.

The Holiday Action Plan Think Ahead Ring to check out facilities available. Does the hotel have a gym, offer yoga classes, or water sports? The brochures don’t always tell you. Jot down a couple of mini routines from your favourite classes or DVD’s as a reminder. Recover Flying even short distances can be draining. Drink lots of water during and after the flight and eat plenty of fresh fruit to re-hydrate and boost your vitamin levels. Listen to your body and rest if that’s what it is telling you to do. Acclimatise Altitude, heat and jet lag can quickly dampen any enthusiasm you had for working out on holiday. Ease into any activity slowly to give your body time to adjust. Try scheduling your workouts before 10am or after 5pm.

Explore Heading off on foot or by bike is one of the best ways to see the local sites and maintain fitness levels. Seek out hills and mountains for lower-body blasting, but don’t forget to take bottles of water. Activate By day three or four you’re starting to relax, so it’s ok to think about working out again. Running or powerwalking on the sand is a good option for cardiovascular fitness and lower-body toning, as is swimming and cycling. Water-skiing will give good upper-body results.

“This could be the perfect time to discover a new hobby and enjoy the selfconfidence boost associated with mastering a new skill.”

About Dean Hodgkin

Returning Home It might take a week before you’re able to perform your pre-holiday programme with ease, but you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable returning to the gym can be. The break will have done your muscles, and motivation, wonders.

Here are a few ideas for injecting some calorie burning activities into your day.


Hire a pedalo and enjoy the benefits of an aqua ‘spinning’ class (515 calories)

Sunbathing by the pool

Ask the Receptionist for a map of local walking routes (362 calories)

Turn over and tan

Walk the beach, ankle deep in sea water (211 calories)

Lazing on the beach

Thrash out a quick couple of lengths of the pool (483 calories)

Take sightseeing bus tour

Hire a bicycle and see what you want to see (473 calories)

Dip in the pool

Tread water vigorously (423 calories)

Have an early night

Dance until dawn (332 calories)

(These figures are based on a 9st 7lb woman’s average expenditure over one hour).

Dean Hodgkin has taught fitness in 35 countries and was voted the Best International Fitness Presenter. He has a large number of television and radio appearances, including resident expert on the Terry Wogan Show, news programmes and hosting his own slot on SAGA Radio. He has written for The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Express, Zest, Health & Fitness, Company, FHM, GQ and Men’s Health. In addition to working on marketing campaigns with Reebok and NIKE, he has acted as consultant to Marks & Spencer, Tesco and RAC. He is based at leading spa resort, Ragdale Hall. For more information visit


A message to you, Leices ter…

Whether you smoke or not, no one can deny the relentless damage that th e habit inflicts upon society, on communities and on you.

Sadly, the highest preval ence of smoking occurs most deprived areas of our city. A conservative would suggest that this habit drains £15million underprivileged communiti es, whilst sapping the and well being of many Lei cester people.

amongst the estimate from our general spirit

When that shocking amount of cash is sucked out of our community, it isn’t just the basics or the materi al things that are lost. A ten-a-day smoking habit would take £1000 a year from a household. How many holidays, day trips and life experiences are we depriv ing ourselves and our chi ldren? You may be reading this wondering whether this mes sage applies to you? Let’s be clear, we all have a collective responsibility to make a difference and make a change. Smoking wil l have an effect on your life at som e stage. If we can take a lead and help to influence each oth er, we can limit that eff ect. Before the smoking ban in public places, workers who did not smoke were the ones who suffered from the harmfu l effects. Now, there are those who don’t have a voice, who also don ’t have a choice, such as children and pets who have to put up with it because they’re not asked if they mind.

We need to work together and take every opportuni ty to improve our quality of life. We can’t just sweep the pro blem of smoking under the carpet. This mes sage, put simply, is a cal l from us to you, to help each oth er. Be a good mate, let them know they can get some quality hel p to stop smoking this wee k if they want to! This time next year, they’ll be a lot bet ter off.

We’re committed to this. We sincerely hope you are too. Give us a call on 0116 295 4141 and find out how we can hel p you or your friends and family take that first step.

The STOP! Smoking team

Smoking Survey Smoking polarises people’s views, with some smokers believing they are treated as second class citizens and non-smokers finding secondary smoke offensive and disgusting. We canvassed the views of a cross section of the general public in Leicester to find out what their thoughts on the habit are…

Name: Dawn Alfonso Do you smoke? I’m in the process of giving up. “I enjoy smoking, but I’m trying to give up. It is antisocial but for my generation it was more common. We’re the minority now, where as in the past it was the other way round.”

Name: Alan Cheung Do you smoke? No.

Name: Mac Walbrook Do you smoke? Yes.

“You die early, it’s a bad smell and you get yellow fingers. I’ve never smoked but members of my family have.”

“Obviously one has to say it’s not the healthiest of activities, but it is my one and only vice. I have considered giving up, I want to get to the age of 70 and unfortunately this habit reduces your chance.”

Name: Pridam Nagi Do you smoke? No.

Name: Karwan Abul Do you smoke? Yes.

“It’s very bad and it’s not healthy. I don’t like it when people smoke around me. My daughter smoked a long time ago but I stopped her because I didn’t like it in my house.”

“It’s bad, it stinks and it’s not good for your health. I’ve thought about giving up but I don’t smoke that often.”

Name: Ndas Do you smoke? No.

Name: Tracey Williams Do you smoke? No.

“It is bad for your health and bad for your conscience. I’m a Hare Krishna and we don’t smoke.”

“Each to their own. It’s a good idea that there’s a ban in public places as it makes it a lot easier and a lot nicer when you’re out, but because I’m not a smoker, I don’t feel an impact because I don’t want a cigarette.”

Name: Dave Hardie Do you smoke? Yes.

Name: Migel Osman Do you smoke? No.

“It’s annoying. I hate it, but I’m addicted. It’s really bad that the price is going up all the time too, it’s not the price of tobacco it’s the government’s taxes. If you go to any other country it’s as cheap as chips.”

“Smoking is not good for anyone’s health. It’s expensive and people should save their money. It’s not good for your health if other people smoke around you either.”

0116 295 4141




Leicester City



r e m m u S l l a e l z r z e t Si s e c i e L cross ing With High of stunn n a f a e ou’r

Bikini top, £6.99, and bottoms, £6.99, by H&M; shoes by Office, £44.99; large flower hair clip by H&M, £4.

y , Whether izzling swimsuits rs he bikinis o ter has t wear to s e ic e L s Highcros llection of beach ever er co ultimate t you look hot wh a h mer. ensure t this sum g in y a d li you’re ho


Limited edition cut-out swimsuit by New Look, £30.

Cut-out swimsuit by New Look, £14; leather headband by Oasis, £25.


his season’s beachwear fashions include a collection of stylish and chic outfits, from classic bandeau tops to cute frilly bottoms, and from gorgeous hair accessories to the hottest footwear. Whether you’re more pool-side chick or beach-lover belle, the choice at Highcross’s stores will ensure that you look a million dollars anywhere in the world – whether it’s Barbados, the Balearics or even the British coast.

Bikini top £16, and bottoms, £10, by La Senza; large flower hair clip by Oasis, £19.99.

Stylish cut out suits are one of the season’s hot topics and look stunning in a range of bold colours with minimal detail. New Look has a great range in store now that look perfect teamed with musthave oversized hair accessories and gladiator footwear for creating effortless glamour. If you’re more of a bikini girl, then this summer’s collection won’t disappoint, with pastel colours, tie-sides and bandeau halter necks making an appearance at stores such as Warehouse, H&M and La Senza. Other key items to include when taking the plunge this season include flower-power hair accessories, which are the ideal way to add a splash of clashing colour to your perfect beach look. Check out an exciting range of must-have accessories at John Lewis, Oasis and Debenhams, amongst others. If you’re looking to ooze glamour and style on your holidays this year, look no further than Highcross for all your beachwear needs. For further information, visit

One-piece swimsuit by Reiss, £59; flower hairband from a selection by Coast at Debenhams and John Lewis, £25.


Halterneck bikini top, £12, and bottoms £12 by Warehouse; sandals by Ted Baker at John Lewis £75; turban by Oasis, £19.99.



By Ian Strachan You wouldn’t instantly appreciate that Volkswagen’s blistering new Scirocco and Skoda’s well-appointed Superb were stable mates, but they both come from Volkswagen-Audi and they both share the same attention to detail and high build quality.

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI Occasionally a car comes along that I honestly can’t fault. Not a thing wrong with it. The Skoda Superb is that car and it’s just got better. If I was picky, I could say that the road noise was a tad louder than you’d expect from a car in this class. I suppose I would prefer it to have an Audi badge on the front rather than a Skoda badge, because it’s certainly worthy of one. However, if it was an Audi it would be at least £10,000 more expensive, with less equipment. The new Superb lives up to its name and Skoda aren’t being presumptuous. The Superb badge was used on a 1930’s Skoda, when a Czech-made Skoda was the Rolls Royce of Eastern Europe. This car looks good, has room to hold a small drinks party in the

rear, drives magnificently, has a powerful but frugal engine, is supremely comfortable and has just about every goody you could wish for as standard. All for not much more than £20,000. I test drove the Skoda Superb in Elegance trim level, powered by a quiet and smooth 2.0 direct injection diesel engine. It comes in at just £27,785 on the road. The entry level 1.4 TSI is £15,490. Ridiculously cheap for a car of this size. The Superb is an attractive car to look at, longer than many in its class and supremely elegant. Inside, the car is comfortable with remarkable rear legroom. Skoda have pulled off a Tardis-like trick here, because the boot is enormous. The ride is soft, but positive and feels stable even when cornering at speed. The two litre diesel engine is

quiet, but provides power across the range and is impressive when married to the six speed automatic gearbox. It will still return impressive fuel consumption figures of 41.5 miles to the gallon in mixed driving. The Elegance trim level gives you pretty much everything as standard, along with ground illumination under the mirrors and door sills. You also get meaty 18 inch alloy wheels, dual-zone electronic air conditioning, cruise control, parking sensors, a satellite navigation system and an MP3/CD auto-changer with eight speakers. Not much else you could wish for. Thrown in, you get the satisfaction of knowing that your fellow drivers in Audi’s, Mercedes, BMW’s and the like, have paid a lot more for less. The smugness comes free.

VW Scirocco It has been 35 years since the first Volkswagen Scirocco sports coupe made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Now, the iconic Scirocco is back. It still has the same shape, blistering performance, two doors, four seats and front wheel drive. Sitting on the Golf floorpan, the similarity ends there. This car is technically advanced, dynamic and fuel-efficient. Powered by a 2.0 litre, 200 bhp engine and with handling that feels as if the wheels could never leave the ground, this is a pocket rocket. The engine is linked to a slick sixspeed gearbox which means you can get more than 37 miles to the gallon despite the car’s raw power. A version with a less powerful 1.4 petrol engine and a 2.0 diesel come out this year. The Scirocco is still as strongly designed as ever. It has the sharklike wedged lines of the original Scirocco, but its lower suspension, massive wheels and wide back end tell you that this VW means business.

The inside is similar in layout to a Golf, but with sporty trim to emphasise its high performance. The small, three-spoke steering wheel is sculpted to allow a good grip. The 2.0 litre engine, which also has a home in the Golf GTi, is both turbo-charged and intercooled. I found pedal pressure a tad hard, but when you put your foot down the turbocharger cuts in impressively, delivering a powerful but smooth dose of extra grunt. Handling is extremely sports carlike, thanks to stiffened suspension and nicely-rated electro-mechanical power steering. Steering is always solid and predictable. Standard equipment on the Scirocco is impressive and includes a curtain airbag system for front and rear passengers, remote central locking with alarm and immobiliser, dual zone electronic climate control, eight speaker CD/MP3 player with

CD autochanger and touch screen controls, iPod connection, 50/50 split rear seat, automatic lights and rain sensing wipers, electric windows and mirrors and front fog lights. Parking sensors, £318, electric sunroof, £617 and satellite navigation, £1155, are available options. The six speed manual Scirocco comes in at £20,499 on the road, which isn’t cheap for a car of this size, but you are buying into a legend and resale values are good. Volkswagen has done it again. For the third time the company has put the Scirocco badge on a car that truly deserves it.

Ian Strachan is a motoring and business writer. He can be contacted at



By Laura Heatherley

Handmade Burger Company is the brainchild of former chef, Chris Sargeant. Having worked in advertising and marketing for 12 years, he became increasingly frustrated with burgers which were more ‘fast’ than ‘food’ and decided to head back to his culinary roots and open his own restaurant. Chris’s aim was to break the fast food rules, go back to basics and source good quality, fresh ingredients, with all food being made on site. Thus, Handmade Burger was born. The first branch was opened three years ago in Birmingham, followed by a further

in Solihull, with Leicester being the most recent. The restaurant prides itself on the quality of their food. All of the beef used is farm assured and from traditionally reared cows, with every burger being handmade in the

restaurant each day. Even the chips are freshly peeled and cut from whole potatoes before being double fried to create perfect crispy chips. Best sellers are the veg and bean burger and the bacon and cheese burger. Food We visited on a Friday lunchtime, initially arriving to an empty restaurant which soon filled with shoppers refuelling. The menu is vast, with an impressive choice for meat lovers and vegetarians alike and it took us a while to decide. The smells wafting from the open kitchen into the restaurant, along with the sight of other people’s food being

taken to their tables was torture, but fortunately the service was quick and we didn’t have to wait long. I had the classic chicken burger and my companion opted for the barbecue bacon and cheese burger. For sides, which have to be ordered separately, we shared onion rings and chips as well as the blue cheese dip. After a small dilemma as to whether to use our fingers or cutlery, we shunned knives and forks to tuck in. The portions were absolutely huge, more than enough to fill you, and the food itself didn’t only look more appetising than the usual fast food fare but tasted it as well. The meat was juicy, the salad crispy and with one bite you could tell it was fresh and flavourful. Family Friendliness The restaurant offers excellent facilities for families with a sizeable children’s menu, plenty of highchairs and baby changing facilities, which one mum described as being “one of the best in Leicester”. They’ll also provide hot water to warm bottles if requested. Community Handmade Burger Company like to see themselves as a neighbourhood

restaurant rather than a faceless chain and like to get involved in the community. They are currently trialling ‘Handmade Burger Gives Back’ initiatives in Solihull, supporting ten local charities. They are donating 25p from the price of selected burgers to the charities,

as well as holding fundraising and volunteering events. These initiatives should be launched at the Leicester branch soon. Plans for expansion The company have plans to open five more branches around the country by the end of the year, as well as opening a branch of their takeaway ‘Urban Pie’, in the Highcross. Urban Pie, currently only available in the Bullring, Birmingham, is based upon the same principles as Handmade Burger. Good, quality, fresh ingredients, brought together on site. Given how much we enjoyed our meal we can’t wait to visit. Opening times Sunday to Thursday 12 noon to 10.30pm. Friday and Saturday 12noon to 11.00pm. 13 Highcross Lane, Leicester LE1 4SD. Tel: 0116 2425875



At this time of year, after a stressful day working or shopping, what better way to unwind than with a cool pint in a sunny beer garden? Unsurprisingly, we weren’t short of investigative reporters for this one, but Lifestyle Editor, Laura Heatherley, got the nod to see what Leicester has to offer…

Orange Tree High Street Monday and Tuesday 12-11pm Wednesday and Thursday 12-12am Friday 12-1am, Saturday 11-1am Sunday 12-10.30pm The Orange Tree has a surprisingly large area out back with plenty of chunky benches to sit at as well as lush foliage. Surrounded by

buildings on all sides, the garden is usually in the shade, but that doesn’t stop it from being full of people. Lighting transforms the garden at night and heaters mean you can stay out a little longer. The garden reflects the chilled out atmosphere of the bar itself, which Assistant Manager, Phil, describes as attracting an ‘alternative crowd

who don’t like run of the mill places’. Cocktails are the speciality here, which the bar has won many awards for in the past. A nice selection of food is served every day until 7pm and if you pop down on any Bank Holiday Monday the bar puts on a barbecue and acoustic acts.

The Old Horse London Road Weekdays 11am-11.30pm Friday and Saturday 11am-12.30am Sunday 11am-11pm The Old Horse’s modest exterior gives no hint of the large, green and spacious garden that lies behind. Once you’ve worked your way through the pubs eclectic interior and heated smoking courtyard, you are transformed from the outskirts of the city centre to a green and leafy oasis. Dozens of tables spread out across the lawn, mean you’ll always find somewhere to sit and a full menu of classic pub food gives you an excuse to stay even longer.

clientele is a mixture from students to families, with whom the beer garden is popular due to being completely enclosed and safe for children. The large open space lends itself to events including an annual bonfire in November and Independence Day

celebrations in July. Barbecues are held weekly during the summer and four-pint jugs of ale, jugs of Pimms and soft drinks are available to enjoy outdoors.

they are slightly off the beaten track, though she admits it can get very busy at weekends.

with favourites including hot chilli nuts, Thai spicy nuts and salami sausage.

The courtyard of the Rutland and Derby is an excellent suntrap and on a nice evening it’s usual to find it full of professionals from local businesses congregating after a hard day at work. The pub has a relaxed atmosphere, which owner, Ramona Smith, attributes to the fact

The pub claims to have the most beers on tap in Leicester at thirty, and no one can argue against the food being excellent. All meat is sourced from an organic farm in Loughborough, with all other ingredients being fresh and local. Even the bar snacks are top quality

Where you would previously be likely to find a few quiet souls playing darts, the current owners have transformed the Rutland and Derby into a stylish venue, where you may find yourself rubbing shoulders with a local celebrity or sports star at the bar.


Firebug’s small, yet perfectly formed outside area is unexpectedly lovely and green. Bang in the middle of Leicester City Centre, the venue is popular with students and young professionals, and weekend evenings usually see the garden packed.

Manager, Scott West, explains that the bar prides itself on its cocktails, as well as incorporating a range of premium lagers. The food is fantastic with a popular range of sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and much more.

The pub’s manager, Kevin Shephardson, explains that their

Rutland and Derby Millstone Lane Weekend 12pm-1am Weekdays 12pm-11pm

Millstone Lane Sunday and Monday open until 1am, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 2am, Friday and Saturday until 4am

Fully enclosed with built in furniture, table football, heaters for the colder months and even a leather sofa gives it more of an outdoor pub room feel and stacks of stools make it easy to find a place to perch.

The venue regularly plays host to live music and comedy upstairs and to celebrate their fifth birthday on July 26th there’ll be live bands and a barbecue.


SUMMERSUNDAE From humble beginnings as a one day event in 2001, Summer Sundae has evolved into a three day, six stage festival. Playing host to over one hundred acts, 2009 is set to be the best year yet. The independent festival is renowned for its relaxed and family friendly atmosphere. Past winner of the Best Small Festival award, Summer Sundae boasts great camping facilities, a variety of food and drink, as well as a diverse selection of musical acts. Described by the Guardian as being “a festival about which you can genuinely say that there’s something for everyone,” the line up spans the entire spectrum of musical genres, from folk to drum and bass. Friday’s highlights include the Mystery Jets and headliners, The Streets. Saturday sees a performance from The Noisettes who recently had a big hit with the infectious ‘Don’t upset the rhythm’, before a greatest hits set from dance act, Saint Etienne. Indie comeback-kings, The Charlatans,

now in their 20th year, headline on Saturday night. Joint headliners on Sunday night are The Zutons and Bon Iver. Showcasing the very best of up and coming talent alongside the big name headliners, past years have seen the likes of Kate Nash, Noah and the Whale and The Young Knives performing as relative unknowns, and this year is no different. Among others catch First Aid Kit, Baddies, Kabeedies and Beardyman. Rest assured that in time to come, you’ll be able to boast that you saw them first at Summer Sundae. The festival supports the local music scene in particular and rising local talents confirmed for this year include Maybeshewill, Her Name is Calla and Minnaars.

entertainment alongside the music, including the e-festival’s comedy tent hosted by Leicester Comedy Festival, the Phrased and Confused Spoken word tent, as well as plenty of activities for children and families. Evening entertainment includes the wind-powered Phoenix Square cinema tent and a first for the festival, a silent disco tent. Summer Sundae takes place at De Montfort Hall and Gardens from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th August. Both weekend and day tickets are available to purchase now, see for more information.

There is plenty of other


the soarpoint

with Jordan Crane

Words by Jon Reeves


ne of the most promising young players on the Leicester Tigers books, Jordan Crane began to fulfil this promise last season, and how. A supremely confident yet ultra laid-back young man, Jordan was fast tracked from vital squad member to key player and headline maker in the space of half a season. This culminated in that crucial penalty kick in the Heineken Cup semi-final and the winning try in the Guinness Premiership final. Being a champion is about presence, a focus, a state of mind, and the vital element required to be a Leicester Tiger. Crane has grasped this notion with both hands and more trophies are now sure to follow. Soar caught up with Jordan at the Cutting Room to discuss the season of his life and tasting more glory in the future... Jon Reeves: So Jordan, tell us about that winning kick in the Heineken Cup semi-final? Jordan Crane: I wasn’t too nervous as the pressure wasn’t really on me as the guy who kicked before me had missed his. If I’d have missed, it would’ve been game on. It was a great feeling when it went over the bar. Unbelievable. It was pretty embarrassing to get all that attention from the media because other guys scored their kicks too. It was great for a forward to have had the opportunity to take a kick because we don’t usually get the chance to do anything like that. We should have won the game in normal time anyway, but it was an incredible feeling to win the way we did. JR: After that it was back to the bread and butter of the Premiership and you hit the headlines again scoring the only try in the final. That must have been a great buzz… JC: It was astonishing, especially after losing in the last two finals. To get that try was an awesome feeling after being sin-binned earlier in the game. We felt as though the pressure was off us a bit. It wasn’t

the best of games but it’s all about winning the trophy. I don’t think I’d won a game at Twickenham before then though. I’d either lost or drawn, so it was absolutely brilliant to get the win. JR: Tell us a bit about playing football as a youngster, weren’t you on the books at West Bromwich Albion as a goalkeeper? JC: Growing up everybody around me played football. My brother was about the same age as me and we used to play. I played football until I was 14 and was never really interested in rugby. At high school my friends were playing rugby and I wasn’t really enjoying it at West Brom. There were two goalies at the academy and we tended to only play half a game a week each, which wasn’t really for me so I took up rugby and haven’t looked back since. JR: Did you realise how big Leicester Tigers were before you signed for the club? JC: Everyone knows the stature of Leicester. I think a lot of people find it an intimidating place to come. I was unsure as a lot of people that


aren’t from Leicester hate the club. It was a big decision for me to make, but I’ve loved every minute of it since joining Leicester. JR: Some supporters have since compared you to Tigers legend, Dean Richards. That must be a great compliment… JC: It’s better than being compared to somebody rubbish! If I can live up to that then it will be great. I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me and if I can come close to achieving what he’s achieved than I’ll be very pleased. JR: What do you make of the mass exodus of English players to France due to the wage capping? Is playing abroad something you would ever consider? JC: I’ve been to France a few times and it’s not my favourite place in the world, so I think it would have to be right for me at the time. In the foreseeable future it’s definitely not something I’m thinking of. I think as I get older things may change, but I don’t think France is on the cards. JR: What do you make of the


JR: Tell us a bit about when you made your England debut against South Africa? JC: It’s not the greatest memory, the biggest loss at Twickenham ever for an England team, but it was a proud day for me. It’s not just making your debut against any country; it’s against the world champions so it was a great honour. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Everybody dreams of playing for their country and to do it against South Africa was great. It was just a shame about the result.

developments to Welford Road? JC: It looks awesome. It’s going to be the best rugby ground in the country bar Twickenham. It’s exciting times for Leicester as a city. The fans are brilliant and they’ll come out and fill the stadium for big games, like they have when we’ve played at the Walkers. I think it’s going to be immense and it’s a great club to be involved in at the moment with the evolution that’s going on. JR: How have the players found playing at the Walkers Stadium? JC: It’s a difficult one because the Walkers is a state of the art stadium with everything that you need and a bigger capacity. But, at Welford Road you’ve got the history, the standing terrace and everything that goes with it. I think if the players had a choice they’d play at Welford Road, but when we can get more fans into the Walkers and more support that’s a good thing too. JR: There have been a lot of changes at the club in the last

couple of seasons with coaches coming and going. Has it been unsettling for the players? JC: I don’t think so. I think last season was more of a transition period seeing Marcelo come and go, but this season the way that the boys have turned it around with Heineke leaving is top notch. Heineke put in some good foundations and Cockers and Matty O’Connor have carried that on, adding to it and expanding our game and it has worked out well in the end. JR: What has it been like having Richard Cockerill as coach? The players must be pleased that he’s secured the job full-time? JC: He’s been here ever since I’ve been here. He was a player here and he knows what Leicester is all about. Having somebody like that at the helm who knows the traditions and the ethos of the club, I think we’ll be successful, especially with the coaches there to back him up. Matt O’Connor brings different views, coming from Australia and I think it’s a nice balance at the moment.

JR: Looking at England, things certainly seem to be improving under Martin Johnson? What’s it like playing under him? JC: I think it takes time to make the transition and with it being his first job I think he’s doing really well. It’s difficult at the moment because you’ve still got players in the squad that played with Johnno. I think the younger boys are more standoffish with him, whereas the older guys that know him better are friends with him, if you like. I think the younger boys are a little bit intimidated by him, but I don’t think he’s as bad as he came across on the pitch. JR: There’s a group of good, young English players in the Tigers side, with you, Toby Flood and Tom Croft. Is there a good team spirit between the lads and

does this help when you’re in the England squad together? JC: There’s a massive Tigers clique where we go in and we stick together, that’s the way they like it at Leicester, so we all stick together and it’s good for the club really. With Crofty coming through, me and Toby, we all played England Under 21’s together. There’s Richard Blaze coming through and we’ve just signed Anthony Allen from Gloucester, so we’re starting to get a real core of young players who are going to be the future of Leicester for the next ten years. If everyone stays together it’s going to be a great squad. JR: What do you think you’ll need to do to nail down a regular place in the England team? JC: I need to expand my game really, offloading and things like that. I know that I can do that. It’s just the style that Leicester have been playing in the past two years that’s made it harder, but I think that’s changing with Matt O’Connor and Cockers. They’ve given us a bit more freedom, so as soon as I can get my head round that I won’t be far away.

JR: The next World Cup must be a major target for you? JC: I’ve got a few more short-term goals at the moment, but it’s always in the back of your mind that you want to play in the World Cup so that’s an ambition of mine to be on that plane going to New Zealand. JR: How do you prepare mentally for a game? JC: I have some little routines, but I don’t get nervous. I’m pretty relaxed. On a matchday I don’t bang my head against the wall or anything like that, like some of the boys. I’m pretty chilled and once you get out there it’s just another game. JR: What do you do to relax away from the game? JC: I like to chill out with my friends outside of the game and my brother only lives 45 minutes away and my parents live an hour away so I see my family. I also go to the cinema, concerts and things like that.

soarpoint JR: How have you found Leicester as a place to live? JC: I really like Leicester. I think it gets a lot of bad press, especially from outsiders. I think it’s a great city, as good as any other. Maybe the nightlife is not as a good as Leeds, but it’s getting there. The new Highcross Leicester is awesome but perhaps a few more nightclubs would be nice!

Interview in association with:

Tel: 0116 275 7000 36 Belvoir St, Leicester LE1 6QH

“We’re starting to get a real core of young players who are going to be the future of Leicester for the next ten years.” Photo: Tiger Images


inpictures Leicester firm, EL Fencing, kindly donated £1000 to Alan Birchenall’s 29th annual charity run. A selection of images from the evening, including EL’s penalty shootout victory over the Leicester Legends team are shown here... Pictures courtesy of Neil Plumb Photography, LCFC & Soar Photo

Soar Magazine - Issue 05  

Leicester sport, health and liefstyle magazine

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