Snow stops play
How bad weather has affected English football in the past.
Football pitches all over the country, and at all levels of the game, have suffered from frozen or waterlogged conditions since the middle of December. Most of this weekend's League fixtures have been cancelled and it could well stay icy for a few more days.
There has never been a season to compare with 1962-63 for postponed and abandoned matches. A spell of very severe weather, with pitches everywhere permanently covered in snow and ice, lasted for about six weeks.
The first signs of what became known as ‘The Big Freeze’ were seen just before Christmas and before the thaw had finally set in more than 400 League and Cup matches had been either called off or aborted.
It got so bad that one Football League club, Halifax Town, was reduced to hiring out its pitch as an ice rink!
The FA Cup’s Third Round was due to be played on 5 January but only three out of the 32 scheduled ties were played – Plymouth Argyle v West Bromwich Albion (1-5), Preston North End v Sunderland (1-4) and Tranmere Rovers v Chelsea (2-2). The round took an astonishing 66 days to complete and one tie, Lincoln City v Coventry City, was postponed 15 times. The Cup Final had to be put back to 25 May.
Has there ever been a complete FA Cup wipeout? Well yes, the entire programme was cancelled on 8 February 1969. But on that day only eight Fifth Round ties were due to be played.
The worst day for League postponements also came during that ‘Big Freeze’. On 9 February 1963 there were 57 matches off in England and Scotland. In all, only seven Football League fixtures escaped the winter’s icy grip, while the Scottish League programme was cancelled in its entirety.
Other weather-hit days:-
12 January and 2 February 1963 – 40 out of 44 Football League games off
1 January 1979 – 43 out of 46 Football League games off
17 January 1987 – 37 out of 45 Football League games off
8-9 February 1991 – 40 out of 44 Football League games off
27 January 1996 – 44 League and Cup matches in England and Scotland off
Football people are watching the forecasts with interest…