10 Odd Football Stories

10 odd football stories that you may not know about.

Lieutenant Commander Tommy Woodroffe was the BBC radio commentator at the 1938 FA Cup Final. As time ticked down, Woodroffe famously said: "If there's a goal now, I'll eat my hat." It just so happened that a goal came and he did eat his hat. If you thought that was a strange tale then read on to find out 10 more odd football stories.

1. Who ate all the pies?

Have you ever wondered what the answer to that 'terrace chant' is? Well, football fans of the 1890's and early 1900's would have been united in their answer of William 'Fatty' Foulke. The infamous goalkeeper played for Chelsea, Bradford City and England and stood at over six foot tall and weighed a mighty 25 stone. Foulke was larger than life. He had the ability to punch a ball from his own area to over the half way line (further than many can kick it!), he was also well-known for picking opposition players up off the ground. In one match, while playing for Bradford City against Accrington Stanley, there was concern that Foulke's jersey clashed with the colour of his opponents - when no replacement could be found a bed-sheet was found from a local house and Foulke wrapped himself in and got on with the match. During a match while he played for Chelsea, Foulke decided to swing from the crossbar. His mighty weight brought the crossbar crashing down, injuring the keeper - it took six men to carry him off the field. Another incident while at Chelsea happened off the field. When Foulke arrived first to the breakfast table before an important match he decided to wait it out for the rest of his team-mates. When they didn't arrive quickly, Foulkes ate everything on the table himself. Is it any wonder he was nicknamed 'Fatty'!

2. I name you...

Some fans support their team with great gusto, others take it a step too far. One such man, who showed dedication beyond the normal fan, was a Mr O'Sullivan who was a staunch Liverpool supporter. When Liverpool won the FA Cup in 1965, Mr O'Sullivan decided to christen his newly born daughter with the names of all the Liverpool players. The poor girl was christened: Paula, St John, Lawrence, Lawler, Byrne, Strong, Yates, Stevenson, Callaghan, Hunt, Milne, Smith, Thompson, Shankley, Bennett, Paisley, O'Sullivan. Rumors that she grew up to be a Everton fan are as yet unconfirmed!

3. Who says Christmas should be spent at home?

In days gone by, it was not unknown for football matches to be played on Christmas day. The players in those days were probably not too happy about having to 'work' on such a holiday - all apart from Tommy Lawton and Len Shackleton! On Christmas day, 1940, both Lawton and Shackleton managed to cram in two games of football before the turkey was stuffed. Shackleton appeared for Bradford Park Avenue in the morning, before playing for Bradford City in the afternoon. Lawton played for Everton against Liverpool in the morning, before turning out for Tranmere in the afternoon. Perhaps their wives cooking wasn't up to much.

4. Stan the man!

They say that one man does not maketh a team. Try telling that to the money-makers of Stoke. Stanley Matthews had played for Blackpool for 15 years before re-signing to previous club Stoke for a fee of £2,800 (a lot of money back then!). Stoke made that money back, and some, from Matthew's first game back whn a total of 35,975 fans passed through the turnstiles to see the return of their hero. In the previous home game, Stoke had a crowd of only 8,000. Just from having Matthews in the team, an extra 27, 565 fans paid money.

5. Blame the ref

What defines a dirty game? Number of players booked may be a good indication. Things may have got a bit out of hand though in November 1969 when Tongham Youth Club lined up to play Hawley. All 22 players were booked by the referee, but the madness didn't stop there. One of the linesmen was also shown the yellow card!

6. Indoor football - waterlogged pitch

The Guiness sixes (an indoor football tournament) was once held at the Dundonald Ice Bowl, Belfast. Don't worry, the football players weren't expected to wear ice-skates to play in, instead, a thick carpet was laid over the ice. All of that was fine until some 'bright-spark' decided to switch off the compressor that was keeping the ice solid. The organisers were left with a decision to make, either switch on the compressor and cancel the tournament for a frozen pitch or get the mops out. They managed to get most of the water off the pitch but not all. Viewers of BBC Northern Ireland were treated to the sight of football players sliding through the odd puddle of water  and at an indoor game too!

7. You're booked - No, you're booked

What is the strangest incident that a yellow card has been flashed for? Probably the one in this video;

The referee had obviously dropped his yellow card earlier on in the game and it was finally found by Paul Gascoigne. Being the 'cheeky-chappy' that he is, Gascoigne couldn't resist 'booking' the ref before handing it back. The referee did not have a sense of humour and promptly booked the player!

8. Put a cork in it

Or indeed take the cork out and carry it around with you everywhere. George Young, famed ex-Rangers and Scotland defender, helped break the Ibrox club's Scottish Cup jinx when he led the team to victory in 1948 against Greenock Morton. Young was first to 'pop' open the Champagne and decided to keep the cork, he carried it around with him everywhere he went after that as a lucky charm. Because of this, Young was given the nickname 'Corky'.

9. Oxford or Cambridge?

There are not too many people who can claim honours from both Oxford and Cambridge but one such person was Ron Atkinson. Not from the University's though - Atkinson, as a player, helped Oxford climb from the fourth division to the second division; as a manager, Atkinson helped Cambridge win the third division.

10. I see dead people

In years gone by, FA Cup ties were played over two legs. Such was the case in season 1945-46 when Barnsley had to play Newcastle at home after losing 4-2 away from home. The match ws scheduled as a mid-week fixture, which usually meant low crowds. Because it was such a big match for Barnsley, local employers anticipated a lot of people might 'call in sick'. With that in mind, local collieries posted notices informing employees: "In order that the management may have knowledge of numbers to be absent on Wednesday afternoon, will thoe whose relatives are to be buried on the day please apply by Tuesday for permission to attend." It was a clever attempt to try and get round the problem - too clever by far, as it appeared that there was going to be somewhere in the region of 27,000 funerals that day! The game itself was certainly not a 'funeral' as Barnsley overturned the deficit with a 3-0 victory - happiest 'funeral' any of those people ever attended.

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Dione Morrison
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Posted on Apr 20, 2010