He was threatened with an ASBO…he ended up with a statue
We visit #BTMOTM pub The Chequers…or The Leicester City Blue & White Pub, as others have come to know it
Things are a little different to normal when we visit The Chequers in the village of Swinford, South Leicestershire.
For a start, there’s a TV crew at one end of the bar, with lots of bright young media-types preparing for a shoot. A group of regulars donned in Leicester City kits watch on and tuck into the buffet provided by the pub.
At the far end of the lounge, in an area usually reserved for diners, Robbie Savage is being inundated with questions from football-mad school children.
‘Did you play with Ryan Giggs?’ asks one, ‘When did you play for Leicester?’ asks another with a memory that won’t stretch back much further than the season when the Foxes were, still unbelievably, crowned champions of England.
Somewhere, in the middle of the madness surrounding him, is Brian Priest. He has been the landlord here for the best part of 30-years. In that time he has become part of the furniture in Swinford. In fact, that is now literally the case with a statue of him being unveiled at the pub.
The statue is his reward for being celebrated by BT Sport as part of our Manager of the Month campaign. It recognises his efforts in building a brilliant sports-led community pub over the decades and, more recently, painting the pub in the colours of his beloved Leicester City.
Season-ticket holder Brian picks up the story: “When Leicester won the league it was an incredible year, it just built up as the season went on and we got busier and busier.
“The final games were amazing. They actually won it when Spurs played Chelsea on a Monday night, the place was packed. It went berserk after that with people coming in to celebrate after the game.
“We got a gang round on the Saturday morning when they were being presented with the Premier League title and about 50 of them helped me paint it in blue and white stripes.
“Unfortunately, someone objected so we had to change it back. I got threatened with an ASBO. We kept it for three months and we had a lot of views on the internet and a lot of people came and had their photo taken with it.”
Already firmly established in Swinford, word of The Chequers spread far and wide and it became known as the ‘Leicester City Blue & White Pub’.
As nice as being in the spotlight is, the business has been successful long before Leicester’s glory and will continue to be long after the cameras have gone.
Brian continues: “I didn’t expect a statue and it’s not done for that reason. As a licensee you do what you do to foster a community spirit. Whether it’s sport or meals or whatever, we tend to do a lot of everything.
“It is very nice though and it’s good fun with the locals. That statue might end up in a garden or two around here.”
While the pub’s customers will continue to come back to enjoy food, drink, company and hope to watch Leicester climb away from the wrong end of the table, it seems Brian has gained another fan.
Before unveiling the statue outside the pub, BT Sport pundit and Leicester City old boy Robbie Savage gave us his thoughts.
“It makes you realise what a local pub can do for the residents of the village,” he says. “It’s a community, it’s a hub. Everyone knows the landlord Brian, he is such a lovely fellow and it’s such a friendly place. You see how everyone gets on and knows each other’s names. It’s wonderful. The atmosphere must have been incredible in here when Leicester won the title, they are diehard Leicester fans.”
They are, and they are diehard Chequers fans too.
Have you got what it takes to win a #BTMOTM award like Brian? We are looking for great sports pubs across the country that have made a difference to the communities they serve. Each monthly winner will receive a 4K TV for their venue and a visit from a sporting celebrity.
Make your nomination by tweeting us @BTSportBars using #BTMOTM