Hinckley’s Leicester Road FC were beaten 1-0 by Stoke City’s young guns in a very poignant pre-season friendly in memory of former coach John Perkins.

A free-flowing move and clinical strike from the Potters’ talented academy youngsters midway through the first half ensured it was they who retained the John Perkins Memorial Plate at the end of an absorbing game that ‘JP’ himself would have enjoyed. For the third consecutive year, the match was organised by LRFC manager Neil Lyne, who first played for JP in 1987 (aged 17) at Leicester United FC and then made the move with him to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in 1989.

After ten years at Forest, JP spent ten seasons at Wolves, followed by shorter stints at Derby County and Portsmouth, before settling in at Stoke City as senior academy coach in 2011 and becoming a firm favourite there too. His life ended at 69, in October 2016.

JP’s son Ben Perkins fittingly starting the game in goal for LRFC and was captain for the first half. Stoke’s academy is still run on JP’s principles and ethos and on the day they had too much for a spirited LRFC on their first outing back, but football was the winner on the day, along with the memory of a man who developed so many youngsters in a stellar career spanning grassroots football, non-league and 26 years in professional youth/senior coaching.

Fourteen former Leicester United players from between 1985 and 1989 responded to the call and attended the game from all over the country, in honour and support of John ‘JP’ Perkins.

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