End of the road for Leicester United

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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook

Leicester United enjoyed a happy journey back home on Tuesday of last week, after a last-minute goal from Ally Mauchlen, the former Leicester City midfielder, had earned a 3-2 Dr Martens (Southern) League Midland Division win at Grantham. The following day, their players and supporters were stunned to learn that the club had closed, following the collapse of a takeover deal.

The club's chairman and owner, Sid Osborn, had also been involved in the closure of Armitage early last season, when he withdrew his funding from the former Southern League side and their manager and most of their players moved to... Leicester United.

Formerly known as Enderby Town, the Oadby-based club were just four years away from celebrating their centenary. The Dr Martens League accepted their resignation with regret last week, and will relegate only one side from the Midland Division. All their players became free agents - Mauchlen has already joined Corby Town.

Turning to happier events on the pitch, the FA Cup starts this weekend, with 340 clubs involved in the preliminary round. All of them will be dreaming of reaching the first round proper and being drawn against a Football League team - but two clubs will not have to wait until November to play at a League ground.

The Staffordshire club, Knypersley Victoria, are unable to use their home pitch at Tunstall Road because of a clash with a cricket fixture, so they have moved their tie with Stewarts and Lloyds Corby to the aptly named Victoria Ground, the home of Stoke City.

The first FA Cup tie of the season in fact takes place tonight on Tyneside, where Hebburn entertain Dunston Federation Brewery. Two clubs who have played at Wembley this year take the first steps on the long road back to the "twin towers" tomorrow. Brigg Town, who won the FA Vase last season, visit Ossett Albion, while the beaten Vase finalists, Clitheroe, go to Trafford.

Higher up the non-League pyramid, the former Football League club, Southport, sit proudly on top of the GM Vauxhall Conference, having won three and drawn one of their four games so far. The Haig Avenue club are under new management this season, with Steve Joel in charge assisted by his player- coach, Peter Davenport, the former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and England striker.

Southport will try to extend their good start at home to Kidderminster Harriers tomorrow, but the media will be more interested in Woking's Conference game against Telford United at Kingfield, where Wendy Toms, from Poole, becomes the first woman to referee a match in an English national league.