We are now immersed in that period of the football calendar where the weather often takes its toll on the match list, with postponements particularly frequent in the lower leagues.
The elements have already claimed a Premier League clash this season. Burnley’s home game against Tottenham was called off last month due to a blizzard caused by Storm Arwen leaving Turf Moor blanketed in snow.
Unfortunately, in these times, the COVID pandemic seems to be the source of a multitude of cancellations, weather aside.
Over the years, however, there have been some truly bizarre reasons the games had to be postponed – or abandoned – each of which had nothing to do with inclement weather (or a global pandemic).
We’ve looked at the more unique ones below.
8 games that were postponed for bizarre reasons
1. Missing goal posts (Teignmouth Vs Crediton United, Aug 2018)
An early season Division 1 East South West Peninsula game was called off in 2018 when hosts Teignmouth realized their the newly ordered goal posts were not going to arrive in time for assembly.
We’re guessing full-size goal posts aren’t exactly that sort of thing you can pick up on Amazon Prime, but that was a pretty big oversight. Accepting that there was no prospect of staging the game as planned, Teignmouth informed his opposition of the issue.
Crediton, however, was also unable to host the game on his home ground, due to a function booked in advance, resulting in the postponement.
2.36 red cards in one match (Claypole Vs Victoriano Arenas, March 2011)
The laws of the game state that a match must be abandoned if one of the teams is reduced to six players. In this insane encounter in Argentina’s fifth tier, referee Damian Rubino sent off all members of both teams – and their respective coaching teams.
Rubino had previously given a red card in the first half of the volatile encounter, but dismissed everyone involved in the game after a scuffle broke out in the second half.
As part of his post-match report, Rubino confirmed that all 36 parties had received their marching orders, forcing the match to be abandoned – and producing a record that will surely never be broken.
3. A solar eclipse (Torquay Vs Portsmouth, June 1999)
Thousands of people flocked to Devon on June 28, 1999 to witness the first total solar eclipse in 72 years. This – as might be expected – was seen as a more historic event than the League Cup game scheduled that night between Torquay and Portsmouth.
Largely understaffed, local police had no choice but to recruit all staff to handle the crowds gathered to witness the eclipse. Football was postponed for security reasons due to a lack of police presence in Plainmoor.
Reaction to the 2021/22 Champions League round of 16 draw (via The Football Terrace)
4. Confrontation with a Cheese Show (Frome Town Vs Chippenham Town, September 2015)
A match needing to be rescheduled due to a solar eclipse is one thing, but a cheesy show causing a scheduled match to move would usually be another.
It turns out that the Frome Cheese Show is quite a big deal, attracting more than 10 times the attendance of the local football team.
Considering the numbers involved, the FA Cup tie never had the chance to occupy its Saturday afternoon time slot with the city besieged by 20,000 dairy lovers.
5. The home team does not show up (Estonia v Scotland, October 1996)
Estonia were far from satisfied when FIFA ordered them to bring their World Cup qualifying game forward nearly four hours against Scotland over concerns over the quality of the floodlights at Tallinn’s Kadrioru Stadium .
Upset at the loss of income that would result from going from a 6:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. kick-off, the hosts decided to protest by not showing up at the revised start time.
This did not prevent the referee from starting the match as planned, however. The match started – without Estonia being present – and was abandoned after a total of three seconds.
The moral victory ultimately belonged to Estonia, as they got a goalless draw in the revamped match.
6. Relegated by an influenza epidemic (Blackburn Vs Middlesborough, December 1996)
This is something you wouldn’t see today – for a number of reasons.
On the eve of their Premier League trip to Blackburn, Bryan Robson’s Middlesborough side were wiped out by a wave of flu sweeping through the locker rooms.
In total, Boro had just 17 players under contract who were in good health, many of whom were academy prospects, three of whom were goalkeepers.
Technically, Robson could have fielded a team, even if they had no realistic chance. The Teesiders, however, decided they weren’t able to complete the game.
In 1996, however, you couldn’t just send an email to let the Premier League know about the situation. While other forms of communication were obviously available at the time, Middlesborough failed to officially notify the administrators that they would not be showing up at Ewood Park.
The Premier League weren’t impressed with any of this, ending up fining Middlesborough £ 50,000 for his no-show. But above all, they were also docked at three Premier League points – a punishment which saw them relegated at the end of the campaign.
7. The owner runs around the field with a gun (PAOK Vs AEK Athens, March 2018)
No one likes to see their team have a late goal ruled out.
However, PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis terrifiedly crossed the line when he stormed into the playing area with a gun to protest the decision.
Under these circumstances, the match referee was absolutely right to abandon the match immediately after the incident – which then saw the entire Greek league suspended for a period of three weeks.
Savvidis was fined € 100,000 and a three-year stadium ban for his actions.
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8. Visiting players brawl with home fans (Mossley Vs Lower Breck, Aug 2021)
We previously looked at an Argentina derby that was scrapped due to fights between the two groups of players, but earlier this year an FA Cup prelims match was put on hold due to physical altercations involving clashes between players and supporters.
In scenes described by a journalist as “the most extraordinary that I have witnessed in over 40 years in non-league football”, The Lower Breck players ended up battling with home fans after going 2-0 in the game.
Some players from the visiting team even ended up on the terraces after their goalkeeper was allegedly hit by a drink thrown by the crowd.
Once the situation was under control, the manager decided to abandon the competition for safety reasons, with only a few minutes remaining.