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Apr 11, 2013

Missile crisis

After a match in Sweden was abandoned when Mjallby players were pelted with beer bottles and fruit, we pick out a selection of missiles thrown from the stands.

Bomb threat (1965)

Brentford goalkeeper Chic Brodie had to contend with remarkable misfortune. He was struck on the knee by a stone from the crowd at Carlisle in 1964; he injured his back when he clung onto a crossbar only for it to collapse against Lincoln in 1970; and his professional career was brought to an early end in 1971 when he collided with a small dog in a defeat to Colchester and shattered his kneecap.

In November 1965, during Brentford's 2-1 defeat at home to Millwall, he also found himself confronted by a hand grenade.

After a spectacular 50-yard goal from Millwall inside forward Hugh Curran, an away fan celebrated by throwing the offending item into the goalmouth. Brodie rather casually looked at it, picked it up and tossed it behind the goal, where it was collected by a policeman, who - unsure if it was live - put it in his raincoat and asked a groundsman for a bucket of sand to dispose of it. Another officer present then ruled that it was a dud.

"I didn't know the heavy object thrown was a grenade," Brodie explained in the Daily Express. "I've never seen one. What troubled me was the bobbins with two-inch screws in them which were being thrown."

Millwall goalkeeper Alex Stepney - who was beaten up by a fan that day as well as being pelted with a piece of iron and bottles - had been unaware of the drama. "If I had seen it, I would have run straight out of the ground," he said.

Cushioning the blow (1968)

The 1968 Olympic final between Bulgaria and Hungary in Mexico resulted in FIFA publicly censuring all three countries involved.

Bulgaria had seen three players cautioned - and Hungary one - before the match had even started due to a brawl in the tunnel, and one of those Bulgarians, Tzevan Dimtriov, was sent off for a 43rd-minute foul. Another of that trio, captain Kiril Ivkov, was then dismissed for disputing the decision with Mexican referee Diego de Leo, and Atanas Christov was given his marching orders when he registered his protest by drop-kicking the ball at De Leo. The 73,000 predominantly neutral fans at the Azteca Stadium, unhappy at seeing Bulgaria go down to eight men, then made their feelings known as they threw cushions at the officials.

When Hungary's Istvan Juhasz, who had been booked before the kick-off, was sent off for a late foul, another wave of cushions followed - "hurled with such ferocity you began to think that British hooligans were not really bad chaps," the Daily Express suggested - and ultimately forced the officials to run for shelter.

Hungary won 4-1, while Christov was banned from football for a year, after a match that left serious doubts about the future of Olympic football.

Snow joke (1979)

It required the help of 100 volunteers to sweep the pitch clear of snow when Third Division side Sheffield Wednesday hosted Arsenal in the FA Cup in January 1979, but their efforts did not extend to clearing the stands.

And so the Owls fans, seeing their team 1-0 down at half-time, began launching a torrent of snowballs at Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings, as well as Pat Rice and Willie Young, causing a delay to the second half. "I spoke to Jennings, Rice and Young and their attitude was superb," referee Tony Read said afterwards. "They were just keen to get on with the game."

Wednesday went on to draw the game 1-1 before eventually bowing out of the competition after the tie was replayed a fourth time.

Newcastle fuel the fires (1980)

As hooliganism ran rampant in the English game, a group associated with Newcastle attacked a group of West Ham supporters during a 0-0 draw at St James' Park by throwing a petrol bomb in their direction. Three people suffered burns, and one was taken to hospital, though no serious damage was done.

"We were being bombarded with coins and bricks from a Newcastle mob," one of the victims told the Daily Mirror. "Suddenly my friend pushed me in the back. There was a massive flash and my trousers were burning. If he hadn't pushed me, I probably would have caught the thing in my face."

Rocks in Mars bar wrappers (1988)

When Tottenham visited St James' Park in the opening match of the 1988-89 season, they included among their number two former Newcastle heroes in Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle. Gascoigne, making his first return to the ground, was memorably pelted with Mars bars, having acknowledged his weakness for chocolate.

Waddle, who had left in 1985, faced a similar bombardment, but with the chocolate replaced by pieces of concrete. "I didn't mind the Mars bars, but when I realised there were pieces of rock inside the Mars bar wrappers, it became a bit more serious," Waddle said.

Referee David Scott added: "I picked up two pieces of rock or stone in that corner of the ground. One of the pieces was as big as a fist. Waddle was facing a hail of coins, Mars bars and rocks."

Barred from Europe (1989)

During a time when Dutch hooliganism was growing in infamy, Ajax made worldwide headlines as a teenaged supporter threw an iron bar onto the field and struck Austria Vienna goalkeeper Franz Wohlfahrt during a UEFA Cup first-round tie.

The incident occurred 14 minutes into extra-time in the second leg at the De Meer Stadion in Amsterdam, with Ajax trailing 2-1, and led the referee to abandon the match and award the visitors a 3-0 win.

"There were all kinds of bits of metal around me," Wohlfahrt later told AD Sportwereld. "I wanted to throw the ball to a team-mate and then I felt it hit me and went down - not through pain but through fear. As I lay there, there were still plenty of things being thrown onto the pitch."

Ajax were banned from Europe for a year.

Trouble scooter (2001)

As concerns grew about escalating fan violence in Italian football, a group of Inter ultras managed to take the debate to new heights: towards the end of a 3-0 victory over Atalanta at San Siro, they smuggled in a scooter, set it ablaze, and threw it from an upper stand to an empty section of the ground below.

The scooter was thought to have been stolen from an Atalanta fan during a pre-match fight and then brought into the stadium during the final 15 minutes of the game when the gates were opened, as usual, to facilitate the flow of spectators out of the ground. "It was an incident that gives us cause to think about changing the way we man the gates," Milan superintendent Enzo Boncoraglio acknowledged.

Four Inter ultras were quickly identified and banned for life, while the club was fined 30 million lire (around £10,000) and banned from the San Siro for the final two games of the season.

Pig sick (2002)

In 2000, when Luis Figo made the move from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid, it was deemed the ultimate betrayal. Two years later, the fans' fury was laid bare in one of the most memorable moments in Clasico history.

Figo was given responsibility for taking corners in the fixture for the first time since his move, and the Camp Nou responded by raining down an array of objects, including a whiskey bottle. However, the enduring image, now as then, was the pig's head thrown from the stands. The events of that day, and the build-up, are detailed in a previous Rewind article.

Humble pie (2004)

Events got a bit tasty during Hibernian's 2-2 draw with Celtic at Easter Road, with the home fans left outraged when the visitors, having fallen behind to a Bobo Balde own goal, equalised through Juninho, who had appeared to be in an offside position.

Assistant referee Francis Andrews had raised his flag in the build-up to the goal but, after discussions with referee Mike McCurry, it was decided that Hibs' Guillaume Beuzelin had played the Brazilian in and thus the goal was allowed to stand. One supporter, outraged at the decision, threw his meat pie at Andrews. "The SFA is intolerant of that kind of behaviour, as is this club," Hibs managing director Rod Petrie said in The Scotsman.

Having a ball (2010)

FC Basel and FC Luzern saw their Swiss Super League match shifted to a lunchtime kick-off in order that it could be shown on television before the Swiss Indoors tennis final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

A few seconds into the game, fans threw dozens of tennis balls onto the field at the Sportanlage Gersag stadium by way of protest, leading to a delay in proceedings as they were cleared from the field. Once removed, the fans then launched a second wave of tennis balls onto the pitch, forcing a second delay. The referee then issued a warning to the fans that any further delays would be met with the cancellation of the game, and the protest stopped.

Luzern's head of security was unhappy that Basel had not prevented the protest, which had been discussed on fan forums for weeks, but the visiting club's coach, Rolf Fringer, said it was "amusing" and "original". He added on joggeli.ch: "It's definitely better than throwing firebombs."

Explosive action (2012)

During an Asian Champions League quarter-final clash between Iranian side Sepahan and Saudi Arabia's Al-Ahly, the play was interrupted when a supporter threw a small explosive towards the assistant referee.

Sepahan midfielder Adel Kolahkaj had picked up the item and casually thrown it off the pitch only for it to explode upon contact with the ground, leading the players to leave the field and the match to be halted.

It was established that the item was a firecracker - and not, as widely reported, a grenade - and the game was resumed after a five-minute break, ending in a 0-0 draw.

The AFC later fined Sepahan $30,000.

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