Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Chickens, eagles and hand grenades: Weird things seen on a football pitch

A chicken walks across the pitch during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic at Ewood Park on May 7, 2012. The chicken was smuggled into the ground in protest at Blackburn's owners Venky's, an Indian company that specialises in chicken meat processing.
During a drab 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Tottenham in February, a cat entered the field of play.
Man in handcuffs
During Everton's televised Premier League match with Manchester City in January, a spectator came on to the Goodison Park pitch and handcuffed himself to Joe Hart's goalpost. After some delay, the handcuffs were broken and the intruder (reportedly protesting about Ryanair) was led away.
Last year, an owl fell on to the pitch during a Columbian championship match between Atletico Juniors and Deportiva Pereira. Keen to get on with things, Pereira defender Luis Moreno kicked the Atletico mascot off the pitch. Spectators were horrified and Moreno was banned for two games and fined approximately £340.
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Following a goal for Real Sociedad in La Liga, the players celebrated by running to the side of the pitch and jumping into a car. Goalscorer Antoine Griezmann then pretended to drive the vehichle in a shamefully blatant marketing ploy. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
In 1996, the term 'fox in the box' became rather more literal when a fox came on to the Parkhead pitch during an Old Firm game.
Beach ball
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina must have been left thinking life's a beach after a shot from Sunderland's Darren Bent collided with a stray beach ball, confounding the goalie and ending up in the back of the net. To make matters worse for Liverpool supporters, the ball was thrown on to the pitch by one of their own fans.
Both Crystal Palace and Benfica sport an eagle as their mascot, and will at times produce one of the feathered predators and allow it to fly around the stadium before kick-off.
Eric Cantona impersonator
Manchester United players were somewhat surprised to see Eric Cantona joining in a team photo in 2001, especially considering the Frenchman had retired four years earlier. Somehow an impersonator (far left) had got on to the pitch during their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich, and joined in for the pre-match photos.
Pig head
When Luis Figo moved from Barcelona to Real Madrid, the Catalonia fans were furious. So when the Portuguese player return to the Nou Camp with his new team, the home fans threw a pig head onto the pitch. Point made.
Fans of Omonia had a nickname for Apoel fans: 'the orange rabbits'. To make that clear, one supporter went to the trouble of spraying a rabbit with orange paint before letting it loose on the pitch. Who knew Cypriot football could be interesting?
Angry with their president (who owned a bakery), Hajduk Split fans threw donuts onto the pitch.
Hand grenade
During a London derby between Brentford and Millwall at Griffin Park in 1964, a hand grenade was tossed onto the pitch. Brentford goalkeeper Chic Brodie calmly picked it up, before inspecting it and tossing it into the goal net. It was later analysed and found to be a dummy.
Tennis balls
Fans of Basel and Luzern were incensed when their Swiss Super League match had been rescheduled. The game was brought forward by Swiss TV so as not to coincide with Roger Federer's tennis match with Novak Djokovic. To make their point they delayed the game by 40 minutes by hurling tennis balls on to the pitch.
During a routine Manchester United victory over West Ham in 2010, a mouse was spotted zipping across the Old Trafford turf.
An Everton European tie was marred in 2008 when a supporter of their opponents Brann threw a billiard ball on to the pitch.
Iron rod
In 1989 an Ajax fan threw an iron rod at the keeper of Austria Wien, an incident that saw the Dutch team banned from European competition for a year.
During Arsenal's Champions League semi-final against Villareal in 2006, a squirrel entered the field of play.
Season ticket
A disgruntled Middlesbrough supporter was so infuriated with his team's display, he jumped across the barriers, stormed up to their then manager Steve McClaren, and threw his season ticket down on the pitch.
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More animals - this time a chicken. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
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More inflatable fun - and again the victims' own fans were to blame as Manchester City supporters hurled balloons into their own penalty area at the start of the game. A Sheffield United cross deflected gently off two balloons, leaving left-back Michael Ball with an air kick and Luke Shelton with an easy tap-in as City went out of the FA Cup. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
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Hot air balloon
Amateur footballers were dealing with a bigger balloon all together when one of the hot air variety came crashing to the ground. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
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England's game with Algeria at the 2010 World Cup was so boring, that perhaps the most memorable part of the match occurred when the camera man spotted a bird sitting atop the goal net. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
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During England's quarter-final with Brazil at the 1962 World Cup there was a pitch invasion of the canine variety. A few minutes into the match a stray dog came onto the field, and proved even harder to tackle than Pele. After escaping the advances of Brazilian goalkeeper Gilmar and then Garrincha, Jimmy Greaves stepped in. The England striker got down on all fours before wrestling the dog to the ground and handing it over to the officials. But during the incident, the dog urinated all over Greaves and he was forced to play the rest of the match smelling of dog wee. Legend has it that Brazil star Garrincha found the incident so amusing, he later adopted the dog. You can watch the footage by clicking here.
Serbian outfit Obilic Belgrade hired a baby Tiger to be their mascot and let it loose on the pitch.
Liverpool supporters goaded their city rivals Everton by throwing socks onto the pitch in 2009. Rather than unwanted Christmas presents, Liverpool supporters were having a dig at the Toffee's proposed move to Kirkby on the outskirts of Liverpool - a mainly working class area where residents are sometimes derided as 'sock-robbers'. This is a rather cruel reference to the way that burglars from the area allegedly put socks over their hands to avoid leaving behind finger-prints.
And to round up our collection of bizarre things seen on a football pitch we come to an old favourite, the streaker. Taking ones clothes off and running around naked in front of thousands of people isn't as popular as it used to be. Shame.

Monday night's Premier League match between Blackburn and Wigan was interrupted when a fan released a chicken onto the pitch.

^^Click 'More Pictures' to launch gallery^^

The disgruntled Blackburn supporter was protesting against club owners Venky's, an Indian company that specialises in chicken meat processing.

Here, we take a look at some other strange things seen on a football pitch.

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