new frontiers (issue 7)

Excuses, Excuses

December 1891 and snow was falling as Burnley kicked off against a reluctant Blackburn who soon went 3 down. 2 Blackburn players fought with each other and were cautioned. Half time came and went. Burnley came back, Blackburn didn't. After a 25 minute break they reappeared, thawed out. Tempers rose and 2 Blackburn players were sent off, prompting the rest, bar the keeper, to walk off. He continued, "offside" he appealed, it was given. After a further period of time wasting, the referee had no option but to abandon the game.

Manchester City players suffered from sunstroke in their first game of the 1906-7 season which was played in a temperature of over 90 degrees fahrenheit, in the shade. 2 players retired at half time with sunstroke to join Jimmy Conlin, who had started with a handkerchief tied over his head. The team, 8 of who were making their debuts, and were 2-0 down, received a half time pep talk, "we'll have the sun on our backs this half, it will be the same for them; it will be easier getting to know 7 colleagues than 10". After 55 minutes Conlin returned to make a goal. 1-2. 3 more players retired and Arsenal eventually won 4-1.

Southern softies. October 1931, Blackpool played Chelsea on a cold, wet and very windy day, the pitch was very waterlogged. Less than half Blackpool's usual crowd turned up. Chelsea complained that the pitch was unfit. The groundstaff used pitchforks to make it fit. Against the wind, Chelsea were 3 down at half time. In the dressing room, a Chelsea player collapsed unconscious. His body temperature was dangerously low. 2 other Chelsea players, suffering from the cold, were late out for the second half. With 15 minutes to go, 2 Chelsea players left the field. 2 more limped off injured and Chelsea finished with only 6 men and a 4-0 defeat. On the same day, 5 players were treated for exposure and the referee collapsed from cold in the Blackburn v Sheffield United game. York City won 3-2 at Hull that day.

Bad light stopped play at Stockport in a 1946 war time cup game against Doncaster. After 90 minutes of the second leg, the scores were tied. 10 minutes extra time each way couldn't settle the matter. The teams played on, first goal wins. After 203 minutes, no more goals had been scored, the players were going down like nine pins, it was pitch black, it was the days before floodlights. The referee had no option but to abandon the game. Rovers won the replay a week later.

A few years later, Southampton played Bournemouth in an experimental floodlit exhibition game. It was a foggy night, Bournemouth played in all white. No one saw anything and the game was abandoned on the hour. The Daily Telegraph reported the floodlit soccer had no future.

In former times, it was a common practice to send a telegram to the star player from the opposing side informing him that the game was postponed. It worked more often than not as players failed to turn up and the game went ahead without them.


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