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ABANDONED MATCHES

To date we have only had 16 Football League games that have been abandoned and replayed at a later date whilst one more - the 0-0 at the Bradford City fire game on May 11th 1985 - was sensibly allowed to stand.

Fog has been the cause of three abandonments, the first being our home game versus Rotherham Town on December 1st 1894. It was foggy when the game kicked off and City took the lead in the first minute. The fog gradually got worse and just before half-time the referee Mr Hines called the teams together and said that owing to the state of the weather the game would continue but instead of a League match it was now going to be a friendly! Rotherham equalised and despite only playing 40 minutes in the first half the game was finally abandoned after 25 minutes of the second half.

A trip to Oxford United's Manor Ground in November 1982 fell victim after 64 minutes. It was goalless at the time and Oxford won the rearranged match 1-0 and our last game to date to be abandoned was at half-time on February 1st 1992 because of fog. This time it was at Sincil Bank with York City the unlucky visitors. The score was again 0-0 and the rearranged match finished the same.

Action from the Imps' home game against York City in February 1992. This game was our last Football League game to date to be abandoned.

Snow has caused problems on two occasions with Grimsby Town feeling hard done by in March 1900 as the match at Sincil Bank was called off after 65 minutes with them leading 2-0. The replayed game was the final one of the season ended 1-1. Strangely the second game to fall foul of snow was also in March, this time in 1958. Cardiff City were leading 3-0 at half-time when the game was abandoned. It too was replayed as the final match of the season and City triumphed 3-1 for a sixth successive win and thus completed the great escape from relegation.

One cause that should never happen again is bad light, a problem solved by the introduction of floodlights in the 1950s and 1960s. Before then though it did cause problems and three games fell victim. A trip to Glossop in November 1907 ended after 65 minutes as heavy rain and clouds caused problems. City were losing 1-0 and two players who were making their debuts never got another Football League game for us. Percy Hayden and Herbert Rothwell were the unlucky players and we lost the re-arranged game 3-1. The game at Oldham Athletic in November 1909 lasted 81 minutes before the light became too bad. City were 4-2 down and fared no better in January 1910 when we lost 6-1. Stockport County were the visitors to Sincil Bank for a Monday evening game in September 1929 but the light failed after 80 minutes with the score 1-1. County lost 1-0 when it was played the following April.

Waterlogged pitches remain a problem to this day with City making several aborted trips in the recent past but only two games have started and then been abandoned. A trip to Hull City in February 1915 lasted 54 minutes and was goalless before the referee gave up. We lost 6-1 when it was played whilst 10 years later in January 1925 we were drawing 1-1 here with Nelson after 70 minutes when the game ended. City won the re-arranged match 2-1.

Just 952 were present at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham in April 1927 to see 71 minutes of football played in a bitterly cold driving wind, heavy rain and hail. The Lincolnshire Echo report mentions the Wrexham players wore two shirts each and had a complete change of kit at half-time, a luxury denied to the Imps. Players on both sides appealed to the referee (Mr Fogg!) to abandon the match before half-time but even after the Imps' Alf Hale had been taken from the field unconscious, Alf Bassnett carried off with acute cramp and Tom Maidment and Joe Robson had left the field it was only when the Wrexham player Gordon Gunson was on the verge of collapse that the referee abandoned the game. The home side led 2-0 at the time. All the City players had recovered and played the following week except for Harry Andrews who missed the game with a heavy cold! The crowd had swelled to 1,838 for the replayed game that ended 1-1.

Thick mud caused the half-time abandonment at Rochdale in December 1929 with the score all square, one apiece. In the rearranged game Rochdale's Tommy Tippett scored a hat-trick but still ended up a loser as we won 4-3!

Bad light should no longer cause problems but floodlight failure can. City have recently played matches under low powered lights at Gillingham (versus Brighton & Hove Albion) and Leyton Orient but only a match at Crewe Alexandra in October 1966 has failed to finish. The Imps led 1-0 when the game was called off after 37 minutes but we lost 3-0 in April at the second attempt.

Percy Freeman in the thick of things during the abandoned home game against Crystal Palace in December 1976.

It was 10 years before we suffered another Football League abandonment and then two came along in the space of a month! Firstly Crystal Palace were leading 1-0 at Sincil Bank in December 1976 when a frozen pitch brought an early end after 61 minutes (we won 3-2 when it was replayed) whilst the same reason brought a premature end to our trip to York City's Bootham Crescent later that month. It was 1-1 after 54 minutes and the teams drew 2-2 the following February.

Five years after the Bradford game City were again the opponents on a day when tragedy struck as another game against York City came to an abrupt halt. On September 8th 1990 York player David Longhurst collapsed on the pitch just before half-time. He was stretchered off after a lengthy delay and the final few minutes of the first half completed with the score 0-0. The game was then abandoned at half-time and shortly afterwards it was confirmed that the player had died. In the same way that City remembers Bill Stacey and Jim West, the victims at Bradford, one stand at York City carries David Longhurst's name on it. We lost 1-0 there later in the season.

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