The Weird, the Bad and the Outright Stupid: 7 Times Football Matches Have Been Postponed For Utterly
By Amos Murphy – @AmosMurphyMedia
With Coronavirus putting an indefinite stop to the game we love - grassroots and professional - and without an end in sight, we took a look back at seven weird and wonderful times football has been postponed.
7) Lights out for Torquay
Britain hadn’t had a total solar eclipse for over 70 years and come the summer of 1999 the nation was gearing up to witness one of the universe’s most impressive sights.
Experts had claimed the best views of the first total solar eclipse in Britain since 1927 could be found at southernmost tip of the country, with the seaside town of Torquay one of the go to destinations for science lovers and hopeful day-trippers looking to catch a glimpse.
Despite having known exactly when the eclipse was going to take place for hundreds of years, nobody thought it would have been a good idea to tell the Devon police force, and due to fears of being understaffed they were forced to postpone the first round League Cup tie between Torquay and Portsmouth scheduled for that same night. You can rearrange a football match, but you can’t rearrange a solar eclipse!
6) The ‘Big Freeze’
Before the likes of Trump could even claim global warming was a ‘myth’, the UK used to have some devastating winters, none more so than the ‘Big Freeze’ of 1963.
Much like the current Covid-crisis we're living through, a three month ordeal of snow, ice and destructive weather patterns brought the 1962/63 football season to a complete standstill. Matches were postponed, rearranged and then postponed again, with one match bringing all the unwanted headlines as it was suspended 16 times.
That’s right, the FA Cup third-round tie between Lincoln and Coventry was cancelled a whopping 16 times, eventually taking place in early March, just two months before the final itself was scheduled to be played.
5) “16 times? Jimmy hold my Buckfast”
When it comes to footballing matters, there aren’t many times that Scotland are victorious over the English, but the record for the ‘most times a football match has been postponed’ is one of them.
Sticking in the winter of 1962/63, the Scottish were hit with the biggest freeze of them all, with temperatures dropping below -19 degrees centigrade in some parts. Inevitably the football fixture list felt the full brunt of the cold conditions, with one Scottish Cup tie between Inverness Thistle and Falkirk cancelled an incredible 29 times – a record at the time – only to be broken weeks later as Airdrie vs Stranraer was postponed 33 times.
4) “There’s a WHAT in the car park?”
Many away fans turn up at a ground wanting to see their team get a win, and also hoping to sample a bit of the local culture, i.e. the pubs and bars. But when Oldham supporters set out on the hour long trip through the Peak District for their 1985 Division 2 match against Sheffield United, the last thing they expected to see was a dangerous World War Two artefact just meters away from the ground.
Sheffield was one of the many British cities blighted by German bombs during the Blitz, however not all of them exploded, with some lying dormant for decades later. This was exactly the case in the Lancing Road area around Bramhall Lane, where a 2,200lbs bomb had been left undiscovered for over 40 years. The German incendiary took 38 hours to defuse and the match was played three days later.
3) Halt der Fussball
Sticking with the World War Two theme, and we kick off the top three with (probably) the only football match in the UK to be directly postponed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
During June of 1943, Guernsey side Les Vauxbeletes Old Boys Association had arranged an exhibition match to be played against a side consisting of workers who had been brought to the Channel Islands from around Europe.
Guernsey had been invaded three years prior and was under Nazi occupation, but the high-ranking German officers had got wind of the planned game, weren’t overly impressed and postponed the fixture indefinitely. A single sheet of programme from the proposed fixture was auctioned in 2005 for £320. What a bargain!
2) “You lot couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo”… “Errr gaffer?”
We’ve all heard of those notoriously bad strikers, who no matter how hard they try are just that rubbish they couldn’t buy a goal. Try ending a bad run in front of goal, when there aren’t any goals to score in at all…
Devon side Crediton United travelled to fellow south-coast team Teignmouth for their first game of the 2018/19 season only to discover there were no goalposts in sight. Scheduled to have been delivered weeks in advance, somebody had forgotten to check if they actually had turned up before giving the go-ahead for the match to take place.
Please note : Teignmouth v Crediton United this coming Saturday (25th August) has had to be POSTPONED as the host club has still not had delivered the new goal posts (now expected 28th Aug) and unable to reverse as Crediton have a function.@CreddyAFC @TeignsFC — SW PENINSULA LGE (@swpleague) August 22, 2018
You can always rely on Twitter to find the funny side of a bad situation. . .
To make matters worse the game couldn’t be reversed to Crediton United’s ground as they had a function taking place on the pitch. What a nightmare.
1) “There’s a bomb… oh wait”
But there can only be one winner for the most embarrassing and toe-curling postponement in football history. Step forward Manchester United Football Club. . .
The 2014/15 season was heading into its final day, with one final Champions League spot up for grabs. Manchester United had to beat a Bournemouth side and hope their bitter cross-town rivals Manchester City slipped up away at Swansea.
A last day of the season sunshine cast a shadow of anticipation over the two clubs, but it would turn out to be the Manchester United security team who desperately needed the shade to cover their embarrassment.
With kick-off in both matches less than hours away, Sky Sports News and perennial football pundit Jeff Stelling broke the news that the match set to take place at Old Trafford had been cancelled amidst a bomb scare inside the stadium. Pandemonium ensued as the Premier League’s bigwigs frantically checked the rule books to see what the protocol was for two matches which should have taken place at the same, that no longer could.
As it happened, City eased past a hapless Swansea and took the final place in the top four and the now inconsequential United match was rearranged and played out two days later.
More embarrassingly than missing out on Champions League football for the red side of Manchester, it was later discovered that the mysterious package which was originally thought to have been a life threatening explosive, was actually a training device accidentally left behind by a bomb defusal team practicing what to do in the event of a bomb scare days before. Whoops.