I’m sure you’ve always wondered what is the most bizarre thing to have been thrown onto a football pitch is. Well, you curious little soul, it looks like you’ve come to the right place. Here’s my top ten.
10. Sunderland vs Liverpool. 2009. Beach Ball.
I’ll start off with a relatively recent one. At the start of the 2009/10 Premier League season, Liverpool, under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez, travelled to the North East to play Sunderland. Darren Bent’s incisive through ball was well finished by a beach ball with only five minutes played. The beach ball had (hilariously) been thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan. The score stayed at 1-0 for the remaining 85 minutes, and put, according to BBC Sport, “question marks over Liverpool’s title credentials”. Guess it wasn’t that recent then.
9. Newcastle United vs West Ham United. 1988. Mars Bars.
Paul Gascoigne once said in an interview in his early days at Newcastle that he had a particular love for Mars Bars. So, during his last appearance for his boyhood club, Gazza was showered with Mars Bars from the home fans. And what did everyone’s favourite prankster do? He ate one. Whole.
8. Newcastle United vs Grimsby Town. 1992. Pie.
Staying with the Newcastle United theme, we come to Micky Quinn. In a match between Newcastle United and Grimsby Town in March 1992, a Newcastle fan (what are they like, eh?) threw a pie in the direction of Micky ‘Concrete Boots’ Quinn. Quinn promptly picked it up and ate it.
7. Chelsea vs Arsenal. 2007. Celery.
Celery has long since been synonymous with Chelsea Football Club, but it was in fact Gillingham who first adopted the celery theme at their club. As the story goes, celery used to grow on the pitch at Gillingham’s Priesfield Stadium. In 2007, Chelsea played Arsenal in the Carling Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Some Chelsea fans got a bit excited and decided to toss salad at Arsenal players, which led to celery being banned from Stamford Bridge and, I would imagine cup finals, for the forseeable future.
6. FC Luzern vs FC Basel. 2010. Tennis Balls.
This one is all Roger Federer’s fault. The tennis guy? Yeah him. Let me explain.
FC Luzern and FC Basel were battling it out at the top of the table and were due to meet on Saturday the 6th November 2010. Billed as the biggest game of the Swiss League season, it was due to be broadcast all over Switzerland during a prime time slot.
At the same time, Federer had beaten Andy Roddick in the semi-final of the 2010 Swiss Indoors to set up a final with Novak Djokovic on, yep, you’ve guessed it, November 6th. The Swiss TV people (I apologise, but I know nothing about Swiss television) decided to move the football match to an earlier time the following day because the tennis was deemed more important. Irate Swiss fans (they exist?) from both teams decided to throw a copious amout of tennis balls onto the pitch as soon as the game kicked off. Just as the first wave was cleared and play was ready to resume, the fans launched a second ‘volley’ (I am instantly sorry) of tennis balls to delay the game even further. The game eventually kicked off and with the score at 1-0 to Luzern in the dying seconds, Basel got a 93rd minute equaliser earning them a highly credible draw away to their closest rivals. And to make things even better, Roger Federer, a Basel fan, won his match too.
5. Chile vs New Zealand. 2002. Car Door.
Towards the end of the World Cup warm-up game between Chile and New Zealand, a Chilean fan ran onto the pitch wielding a car door. He ran amuck for approximately three minutes exhibiting his prize to anyone that would listen. Eventually, he, and his door, were dragged off and cuffed. Before the game was restarted an announcement was put out to the crowd urging Chilean supporters “do not bring car parts into the pitch”. South America, ladies and gentlemen.
4. Club América vs Sao Cãetano. 2004. Wheelbarrow.
South America has a tendency to be a little bit mad when it comes to football. During the quarter final of the 2004 Copa Libatadores between Sao Cãetano and Club America, a red card was given to the mercurial Cuauhtémoc Blanco for lashing out at a Sao Cãetano player. After he left the pitch, it all kicked off between the two sets of players, leading to Blanco rushing out of the dressing room to get involved. The Club América fans took this as their cue to also get involved. What ensued can only be described as biblical. All sorts of debris rained down upon the police, including a couple of wheelbarrows. How on earth do you smuggle that in your purse?
3. Barcelona vs Real Madrid. 2002. Pig’s Head.
Possibly the most defining moment of the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Luis Figo had made the controversial move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, and the abuse he recieved was unrelenting. He didn’t take the corners in his first season back, and was injured in his second season, so his third season was was the first time he had reached the corners of the Nou Camp pitch in a white shirt. Midway through the second half, Madrid won a corner. Amid a shower of flying objects, it took Figo almost two minutes to take it. His inswinger nearly went in, but was tipped over by the Barcelona goalkeeper, Roberto Bonano. Another corner. Figo strolled over to take it from the other side. He slowed to pick up the debris to clear a run up for his corner kick, even faking an ironic swig at a bottle of cola that had landed by his feet. Every time he began his run up, a missile would land, and he would have to pick it up. Stop, pick it up, start again. Eventually the referee suspended the game, and during the 16 minutes the game was held up for, someone spotted a pig’s head had been thrown. Madrid full back Michel Salgado said after the game, “A pig’s head! How the hell did someone bring a pig’s head in? It was probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, but then that’s the clásico.” Yes it is, Michel, yes it is.
2. Millwall vs Brentford. 1965. Hand Grenade.
Coming in a number two is the most dangerous item on our list which is coincidentally the the oldest. Millwall played Brentford on November the 6th 1965, and after Hugh Curran had scored the equalising goal in Millwall’s 2-1 win, a Millwall supporter threw a grenade into the Brentford penalty area. Chic Brodie, the Brentford goalkeeper, picked it up, inspected it, then casually tossed it into the goal net. Fortunately, it was later found to be a harmless dummy. The following day the Sunday papers went to town with the headlines such as ”Handgrenade Shames Football” and “Soccer Marches to War”.
1. Inter Milan vs Atalanta. 2001. Moped.
Perhaps the least inconspicuous item on our list. A motherfucking moped. The story goes that Inter fans stole the moped from an Atalanta fan, then snuck it into the stadium. They attempted to light it on fire, and after failing tried to throw it down from the Upper Section of the San Siro with the intention of the scooter reaching the pitch. I obviously see no fault in that brilliantly devised plan, but I do have two questions for the Vespa-loving Inter fans. 1. How do you get a moped into a football stadium? I’m pretty sure it won’t fit through the turnstiles. And 2. While carrying the moped all the way to the top of the stadium, did you ever question how you’ve come to be in a position where you’re carrying a stolen moped up the stairs of the San Siro? Now, I’ve never been to the San Siro, but I’ve been told it’s a 15 minute walk to reach the Upper Section and it’s extremely tiring, even for fit people. Truly bizarre.