Seven of the strangest football match call-offs

John Collins and Billy Dodds kick off in Talllinn, only for the match to be abandoned after just three seconds. Picture: AllSport
John Collins and Billy Dodds kick off in Talllinn, only for the match to be abandoned after just three seconds. Picture: AllSport
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With nine matches postponed on Saturday across Scotland, including the games involving Hearts, Hibs, Celtic and Rangers, we take a look at some of the strangest reasons for matches to be called off or abandoned

Frome Town v Chippenham Town, September 2015, match postponed

Reason: Clash with town cheese festival

Outcome: Match postponed and brought forward to Friday night

This FA Cup match between the two non-league teams was moved to a Friday night kick-off - to avoid clashing with the Frome Cheese Show being held on the Saturday.

The rescheduled FA Cup 1st Round qualifier ended all square, with Chippenham winning the replay 1-0.

Claypole v Victoriano Arenas, March 2011, match abandoned

Reason: Mass brawl and 36 red cards

Outcome: Match abandoned

Derbies can often be high-octane occasions, with tempers likely to fray at any moment.

But spare a thought for the referee in charge of this fifth-tier Argentina derby, who sent off all 22 players on the pitch, as well as 14 other substitutes and coaches.

Victoriano manager Domingo Sganga was quoted as saying: “They wanted to kill me”, while opposite number Sergio Micielli said the referee was ‘confused’.

Some fans also got involved in the mass brawl, with the match eventually - and unsurprisingly - being abandoned.

Incredibly, just over a year later, another referee sent off 36 in a junior league match in Paraguay, after a mass brawl erupted after both sides were reduced to ten men in the closing stages of the game.

Sheffield United v West Bromwich Albion, March 2002, match abandoned

Reason: One team reduced to six players

Outcome: West Brom awarded victory

Now dubbed the ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’, an extraordinary sequence of events led to this game being abandoned.

United ‘keeper Simon Tracey was red-carded for handling the ball outside the box after just nine minutes, with Blades boss Neil Warnock subbing off an outfield player in order to send on the substitute goalie.

Later on in the match, Warnock made his second and third substitutions. One of them, George Santos, was sent off on 65 minutes for a foul on West Brom’s Andy Johnson, with the third sub, Patrick Suffo, joining him for an early bath after being red-carded for his part in the enusing melee after Santos’ ordering off.

With United down to eight players and no remaining substitutes, Michael Brown limped off after 80 minutes with an injury, while Robert Ullathorne followed suit just two minutes later.

Referee Eddie Wolstenholme abandoned the match with the Blades reduced to six players, fewer than the regulation minimum of seven, and West Brom leading 3-0.

Sheffield United were fined £10,000 and the result stood, amid accusations from West Brom boss Gary Megson that Warnock had ‘faked’ the injuries to try and end the game prematurely (Warnock was cleared in a post-match probe of any wrongdoing).

Estonia v Scotland, October 1996, match abandoned

Reason: Estonia refused to turn up

Outcome: Game abandoned and replayed at neutral venue

Surely one of the most bizarre reasons for a match to be andoned, this World Cup qualifier between Estonia and Scotland had been scheduled for a 6.45pm kick-off in Tallinn.

But Scotland, who trained at the Kadrioru stadium the day before, complained about the temporary floodlights not being up to scratch.

The match was then brought forward to 3pm after FIFA agreed with Scotland, but Estonia simply refused to turn up, citing a TV contract and problems getting to the ground.

John Collins and Billy Dodds kicked off, and match referee Miroslav Radoman called the game off after three seconds.

Inverness Thistle v Falkirk, January 1979, match postponed

Reason: Ongoing inclement weather

Outcome: Match eventually played at 30th attempt

Some readers may well remember this farcical Scottish Cup match from January 1979, which holds the record for the number of call-offs due to ongoing poor weather.

The second round tie eventually went ahead on February 22nd 1979 after 29 postponements from the original fixture date of January 6th.

Falkirk won 4-0 once the match was finally played.

Stenhousemuir v Rangers, December 2013, match postponed

Reason: Unsafe stand

Outcome: Match postponed and replayed at later date

Stenhousemuir brought in a temporary stand to house the extra spectators, such was demand for this Scottish League One fixture due to be televised on BT Sport.

However, gale-force winds damaged the roof on the temporary stand and the match was postponed for safety reasons.

Just over a year earlier, another Rangers match was postponed after an error saw more tickets sold than the capacity allowed at Elgin City’s Borough Briggs ground.

Torquay v Portsmouth, August 1999, match postponed

Reason: Total eclipse of the sun

Outcome: Match postponed and played six days later

Saving the most bizarre until last, this Worthington Cup (there’s a blast from the past) clash was postponed shortly before kick-off, as the cops feared a lack of manpower would not allow them to police both the match and the influx of visitors expected in the area to witness the first total eclipse of the sun visible in Britain since 1927.

Despite having plenty of time (72 years in fact) to ensure the fixture didn’t clash with the eclipse, the inevitable happened and the game was postponed and replayed the following week.