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Grant Holt: The Wrestler

Toe Poke
 By Chris Wright

Weird football projectiles: Pigs, wine, celery, tennis balls, fruit and a Vespa

Football has a long and chequered past when it comes to the hurling of projectiles, with all manner of miscellany finding its way from the terraces down on to the pitch.

Here we examine the odder entries in the pantheon which, thanks to Danish fans, now includes dead rats. Yuck.

1. Plastic pigs

Saturday's League One tie between Coventry City and Charlton had to be suspended for several minutes while staff cleared hundreds of little plastic pigs from the pitch.

The metaphorical toys were hurled forth by both sets of fans in protest over their respective "greedy" ownership regimes, and not for the first time either.

2. Pig's head

The preserved pig's head was used in an exhibition entitled 'Cult Scene Stadium'
The famous pig's head from the 2004 Clasico.

Arguably the most infamous projectile in footballing folklore is the severed swine head that was lobbed in Luis Figo's general direction shortly after his defection from Barcelona to rivals Real Madrid in the early 2000's.

The pickled head is now enshrined in a museum of Barcelona memorabilia.

3. Red wine

One arrest was made during Manchester United's 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates back in November of 2014 for what might just be the most Arsenal-like instance of football violence ever recorded.

Indeed, police duly confirmed that the flashpoint came while United were celebrating their opening goal, which angered one Gooner in the stands to the point that he tipped his glass of Beaujolais into the dugout.

"The wine splashed some of the United personnel who were understandably not happy," reported the Guardian at the time.

4. One sandal

Play was momentarily held up during the 2014 Sudamericana Cup semifinal between eternal rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate when the referee noticed a stray item of clothing strewn on the pitch.

Indeed, ref Silvio Trucco was forced to personally remove one solitary sandal from the playing surface after it was hurled from the terraces in a fit of righteous indignation.

5. Celery

Back in his Arsenal days, Cesc Fabregas was subjected to an unprovoked, vegetable-based attack from Chelsea fans during a derby clash between the two sides.

The Spanish midfielder was clearly baffled by the projectile of choice, and quite right too.

6. Bottles, coins and fruit

A Swedish top flight game had to be abandoned entirely in 2013 when the players were bombarded with a variety of missiles, including fruit.

The game between Djurgarden and Mjallby was called off shortly before half-time when home fans began pelting away players with anything they had to hand.

The problems arose when Djurgarden midfielder Yussif Chibsah went down in the middle of the pitch clutching his face and, while the home side eased off expecting the ball to be put out of play, Mjallby capitalised to score the opening goal of the game.

As the visiting players celebrated, a volley of empty cider bottles and coins began raining down from the stands.

Mjallby midfielder Gbenga Arokoyo then hit the deck after being struck in the ribs by a projectile which, after the footage was reviewed, was later discovered to be a pear.

7. Tennis balls (and satsumas)

In an attempt to disrupt the match in protest against their owners, Blackpool fans tossed hundreds of tennis balls and satsumas onto the pitch during a Championship tie against Burnley in 2013-14.

The players and grounds staff then spent several minutes clearing the detritus before the game was allowed to continue.

Indeed, tennis balls were also the weapon of choice for fans of FC Basel and FC Luzern in 2010, who protested their match being switched to an early kick-off (to accommodate a televised tennis match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic) by showering the pitch in fuzzy yellow spheres.

8. A live chicken

Unhappy with their club's owners, poultry magnates Venkys, a Blackburn fan released a live chicken (draped in a Rovers flag) onto the pitch during their side's game against Wigan in 2012.

The match was disrupted for a few minutes, much to the amusement of several players, though thankfully Rovers managed to escape any punishment.

9. Vespa scooter

Having supposedly stolen it from an Atalanta fan outside the stadium during a prematch brawl, an intrepid group of Inter Ultras torched a moped in the upper tiers of the San Siro during a match in 2001.

Then, to add the finishing touch to their pantomime of rampant vandalism, the group hoisted the scooter over the hoarding and sent it crashing down into the tier below, which was thankfully empty at the time.

The four fans were quickly identified and banned for life, while Inter were fined 30 million lire (around £10,000) and also banned from their own stadium for the final two games of the season.

Chris covers the funny side of the game for ESPN FC in the Toe Poke blog.


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