Saturday, October 29, 2011

29 October 1975 - If Anyone Should Be Able To Play In The Fog, It's England

On 29 October 1975, Czechoslovakia and England met in a European qualifier that lasted only 17 minutes before a heavy fog forced its cancellation. And they weren't even playing in London.

At the time, the two sides were first and second in their qualification group. England were on top with seven points from four matches (wins were worth two points), while the Czechs were three points back with a game in hand. They had already played once, with England winning 3-0 at Wembley.

Czechoslovakia hosted the return fixture at the Tehelne polé stadium in Brataslava. But a heavy fog rolled in and impaired visibility so badly that referee Alberto Michelotti had no choice but halt the proceedings after only 17 minutes. It was only the second time in England's history that they had to abandon a match (the first was 1953 when rain stopped a friendly against Argentina).

The match was scoreless when Michelotti called it off, so they restarted from scratch the next day. The Czechs won 2-1, handing England their first loss under manager Don Revie. It proved to be a decisive result, as Czechoslovakia went on to qualify from the group, finishing one point ahead of England, then proceeded to win the tournament.

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