Nobody who showed up to the stadium or tuned in to watch Leicester play Swansea this weekend would’ve come away overly impressed by the quality of the game itself. Leicester did play well, dominating from the first whistle until the last, and sent four goals past the Swans’ keeper. But what made this match such a exhilarating affair, like all the Foxes’ home ones during this final stretch of their unbelievable season, was everything that happened outside the parameters of the game itself.
Leicester home games are something closer to concerts than soccer matches at this point. In the stadium, a sea of fans watch the performances of their idols in the center with rapt attention , singing in unison the whole time, as their unending waves of vocal support cascade down onto the pitch and imbue the entire place and every person there with an overwhelming sense of joy and confidence and love. In turn, the players themselves run around with a visible charge, both feeding off the songs and cheers of the crowd and inspiring more of it with their tricky dribbles and shots and tackles and saves. It’s a communal atmosphere with thousands of people sharing their deep and abiding love for Leicester City, and with Leicester City paying it right back with goals and victories.
Here are the game highlights NBC Sports culled from the contest, which are fine if besides the point:
As you can see, every Leicester goal was facilitated by at least one major Swansea mistake, which curbed their aesthetic appeal by a good amount. And since the home team scored twice early on, the game was pretty much over as a meaningful contest a half an hour in.
A better highlight video that gave you a sense of how flat-out fun it was to watch the spectacle would include those long stretches where the commentators said nothing, allowing the overpowering boom of the elated fans to wash over you. A real highlight video would let you listen to those moments when you could hear one pocket of supporters start up an indecipherable chant in their little corner of the stands, and then almost by osmosis the entire stadium pick up on the cue and bellow “WE’RE WAITING FOR YOU / WE’RE WAITING FOR YOOO-UUUU / TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, WE’RE WAITING FOR YOU” in a single voice. It would capture some of this:
A real highlight video would show you a mundane Robert Huth clearance in the middle of a game that had already been won, and the thunderous applause the simple kick of the ball received—a response, by comparison, that dwarfed any cheer Barcelona’s fans could muster during a 6-0 home win on Saturday that was just as crucial for their La Liga title hopes. And more than the goals themselves, a real highlight video would show the Leicester goal scorers’ ecstatic celebrations after hitting the net, the way it looked like they wanted to jump out of their own skin.
Every win the Foxes pull out from here on inches the team closer to realizing a dream that once seemed impossible. At this point in the season, and after everything they’ve gone through, the fans and players, once burdened by the idea that the title was something they’d come close to and miss out on, show up to the matches with the feeling that winning it is an inevitability.
That’s what makes the atmosphere of their home games so electric; that in the stands and on the pitch they are already beginning to celebrate such a stunning achievement. All the cheers and songs and camaraderie work on two levels, then: the first, as congratulations and praise for the team’s players and coaching staff and their heroic efforts that have gotten them this far, and to gin them up to keep going; the second, for the fans to revel in their shared fandom and their once-in-a-lifetime fortune that made them Leicester supporters in a time when the club has literally shocked the world. Performances like this weekend’s show that they’ve more than earned what’s coming.