FOOTBALL FANS UNITED AFTER CRASH TRAGEDY
LEICESTER City fans heaped praise on the Cardiff City faithful for the way they paid tribute to the victims of last weekend’s helicopter crash outside King Power Stadium.
Claude Puel’s side took to the field in South Wales for the first time since five people – including Foxes chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – lost their lives as a result of the accident last Saturday.
Both sets of supporters showed their respects before, during and after the match to those who passed away in the accident.
And Leicester fans had nothing but praise for the Cardiff faithful and the people of the city for the way they put their football rivalries aside to join in with the tributes.
Cardiff fans unfurled a giant flag ahead of the game, which they passed along the stand to the away supporters in a lovely gesture.
Avid Leicester supporter Andy Salamonczyk said: “It’s been surreal. It’s still hasn’t sunk in really.
“I was at the game last week and I was in a restaurant about a mile away from the ground when it happened.
“I got a text from a mate and when I read that, I had no idea it would be as bad as it was.
“But coming to Cardiff, it’s really nice, everyone since I’ve been here has been really welcoming.
“I went into McDonald’s and there was a picture of Vichai on the wall. The Cardiff fans have been amazing, it’s a really nice thing to do (the flag gesture).”
Chris Stansfield, a Leicester fan for 45 years, commented: “We’ve had fantastic support from all of the other clubs, Cardiff especially. The support has been great.”
And speaking immediately after his side’s win, Lenny Greet said: “This week, the shrine outside the club and the way everyone has come together has been great.
“The Cardiff fans and their banners were brilliant. Everybody’s made us welcome and respected.
“The chairman did a lot for the charities of Leicester, he did a lot for English football when we won the league and gave people hope.”
It was an emotionally charged day from start to finish, with both sets of supporters applauding in unison outside the ground as Leicester’s team bus arrived at Cardiff City Stadium prior to the game.
In addition to impeccably observing a minute’s silence before kick-off, Cardiff fans in the Ninian Stand unfurled the giant flag that featured the club crests of both sides and a flag of Thailand along with the message “RIP Vichai” in honour of Thai businessman Srivaddhanaprabha.
After the game, Steve Howe, a Leicester supporter since 1969, spoke about how he and other Foxes fans received a terrific welcome from the locals in Cardiff.
He said: “Both sets of fans were brilliant. It’s been a perfect day really.
“We stopped in a rugby club nearby before the game and they made us feel very welcome. They even kept Premier League Years on the telly from when we won the league! The players have been great to get back up on their feet, it’s a perfect send-off.
“It was a bit of a sombre trip down, but since we got here it’s been great. Everyone pulled together. Even the Cardiff fans did their bit today.”
And Mark Gilbert, from Hinckley, echoed those thoughts.
“The tributes were absolutely fantastic. Everyone was very welcoming and it’s been a very great but emotional day,” he said.
“Today’s been a massive day for everybody. To honour Vichai with a good performance and come away with a victory is absolutely fantastic for the club.
“It’s been an emotional day for everybody concerned. For the whole of Leicestershire and the whole nation really.”
Another Leicester fan, Dave Stanaway, simply said: “We were a football family today. We won, but does it really matter? No. It was just about being there. We’ve all seen what’s happened at the King Power Stadium with the tributes, and everyone went down in their own time, but we all needed to be together today.”
Leicester City players and staff stand with Cardiff City players and match officials during the minute’s silence
A minute’s silence at the start of the game