Tottenham have been involved in a number of postponements and abandoned games over the years. From our days on Tottenham Marshes through to 2012, a number of these matches carry a tale behind the decision. We start with the first game to be abandoned at our own White Hart Lane which fell on this day back in 1899.
The first game to be abandoned at White Hart Lane came on 21st October 1899, just a few weeks after the ground had been opened and Spurs were leading Bristol Rovers 1-0 in a Southern League game. when fog brought an end to the fixture after 55 minutes. Tottenham would go on to win the league that season and the rearranged game 5-1.
One of the more famous abandoned matches came in 1887. Royal Arsenal arrived late for the match and were trailing 2-1 when after 75 minutes they appealed to the referee for bad light and the game was stopped. That team (using three different names have been involved in three abandonment's with Spurs) Arsenal were the visitors in October 1940 and again were trailing, 3-2, when an air raid warning brought the game to an early end (47 minutes). When the all-clear was sounded Spurs suggested the game be re-started but the visitors declined.
That was one of three games lost to air raids that autumn. One at West Ham, we were 4-1 up and at home to Luton when we were winning 2-1.
Left - A pitch inspection at The Lane in 1952. The ref is in the hat on the left.
The early days saw a number of games stopped. The first on record is back in 1883 with Spurs still on the Marshes. We were leading 1-0 V Brownlow Rovers after 55 minutes when the ball burst and a replacement could not be found.
Bad light and heavy rain have also been the reason for several other games, including in 1954 and our only meeting with Accrington Stanley, when rain brought an end to the friendly after 52 minutes with the score 0-0.
Rain has stopped only one league game, Preston away in 1909 again it was 0-0 after 50 minutes. Fog has accounted for four fixtures 1911-1948. Strangely we were losing one and drawing the other three at the time.
Right - Halifax in 1955, see below, and the pitch is marked in blue.
Fog also affected the war time League South game in 1939 when we were 3-4 down to Southend (60 mins played) It also called a halt to the Youth Cup game at our training ground in 1965 when we were beating West Ham 2-1 (75 Mins) and in World War One the London Combination game with Portsmouth again we were winning 1-0 (15 mins)
The most recent games was in March 2012 when Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch at WHL in the FA Cup match and needed to be resuscitated on the pitch.
69-70 saw a prolonged fixture with Everton. The game was due to be played on November 29th but heavy snow caused a postponement, (left).
The game was started on December 17th but a failure at the local substation caused a floodlight failure and the game was stopped after 30 minutes with the score still 0-0.
It was re-arranged for the 7th January but Spurs were involved in a cup replay so the game finally was played on 11th March (three days before the return fixture). To add insult to injury Everton then won 0-1 and took the title. Incidentally the club printed three different programmes for the fixture.
February 1996 and in dreadful weather Spurs played a cup game at Nottingham Forest. Spurs in all white and using a white ball then saw the snow get worse as the pitch markings disappeared and after ten minutes the referee called for the ball to be changed to an orange one.
This lasted four minutes before he gave up and called the fixture off. The fans then had a nightmare journey back to London.
This game is featured in the top picture and above right. Tottenham boss Gerry Francis said ‘it had become impossible players would have gone down with pneumonia or become snowmen.’
Snow also caused the postponement of the game at Liverpool In January 2010. The pitch was playable but the police said the roads around the ground were dangerous. Oddly both this and the Forest game were due to be shown live on Sky TV.
Various games over the years have gone ahead when the snow stopped and the pitch was then marked out in blue rather than the customary white, including our cup game at Halifax in 1955.
Back in 1887 the Kettering Town match in the United League was stopped when one of their players broke his leg after 25 minutes with the score standing at 1-1.
November 1964 and the John White memorial game is delayed 24 hours because of the weather. As was our European tie with Manchester United the year before.
The 1907 cup campaign saw us draw 0-0 with Hull City at home. The replay five days later saw another 0-0. The game went to extra time and was still scoreless when ten minutes in bad light brought an early end. It was agreed the score should stand. The second replay , four days later, was by mutual agreement played at Tottenham with Spurs winning with the only goal.
Some people feel England should take a winter break, but we have had games cancelled from November to March because of the weather. March 1956 and snow also caused the FA Cup semi-final due to be played at Spurs to be postponed.
Some of the worse winters have caused problems. 1947/48 saw us play on December 27th (at Chesterfield) and on February 14th (at Doncaster). In the eight weeks in-between we played just three league games (two of those away). Although weirdly we managed three FA Cup games in the same period (two at home). Then in the (very cold) 1962-63 season after our 5-0 win on Boxing Day (Ipswich at home) until March 2nd we only played three games. Two of those in four days at home. The other was a win at Arsenal. That caused a massive pile up of fixtures and whilst we still won the European Cup Winners Cup that year we played our last fifteen games in fifty three days. Many fans at the time blaming this for our finishing second in the table.
A change of plan for a totally different reason came when the FA had planned on using WHL for a schoolboy international for the first visit to this country of Germany. The problem being the club had started to dig up the pitch at the time and the game was moved. A number of games, especially in the early years, were played over a shortened time normally due to fading light. Although it was only a few years ago the PL held a tournament in Hong Kong, at a time when the rain was expected, and this caused the Spurs games be played reduced in duration.
To finish two famous abandonment's. The first in 1904. Tottenham played Aston Villa in the cup at WHL. The ground was over crowded.
The fact that some of the gates were left locked in the open position did not help! The crowd spilled over onto the pitch, (left).
Try as they may they had trouble clearing the playing area simply due to there being no where for them to go. The FA ordered the game to be replayed at Villa where we won.
The other game takes us back to 24th April 1900 and the game at the then named Woolwich Arsenal. The home side were 2-1 up when after 75 minutes the ref called a halt to ‘bad language.’ Above press cutting from the time describing the crowds behaviour.
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