The 10 most bizarre football pitch invasions of all time
10. The anti-Ryanair protester
Forget the carefree black cat that recently interrupted Everton’s match against Wolves. The man who handcuffed himself to the goalposts carrying a laminated mask of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s face remains Goodison Park’s most bizarre pitch invasion.
In 2012, John Foley disrupted Everton’s then-goalless draw against Manchester City for five minutes in a protest against his daughter’s apparent unfair dismissal from the budget airline. Foley, who had previously pulled a similar stunt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival, was later banned from all sporting events for three years.
9. The jilted boyfriend
The FA Cup may be renowned for its romance, but it can’t work miracles. In 2016, jilted boyfriend John Dynes gatecrashed the third-round tie between non-league Eastleigh and Bolton Wanderers in a desperate bid to win back the love of his life. Sporting a grey top emblazoned with “dreams come true,” the 51-year-old intended to somehow impress his ex by running onto the pitch and scoring in the Bolton area.
Unfortunately this cast-iron foolproof plan backfired when Dynes slipped on his backside in the six-yard area and was immediately arrested.
8. The parachutist
Not every pitch invasion is meticulously planned. In 2013, a Conference Premier game between Salisbury City and Chester was delayed by a parachutist forced to make a very public emergency landing.
The uninvited guest, apparently an experienced skydiver partaking in a charity event, didn’t appear too embarrassed by his unusual entrance to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium. In fact, he spent several minutes high-fiving some of the 900-strong crowd before being escorted from the ground.
7. The weasel
Cows, ducks, and even the odd kangaroo have all served as unlikely pitch invaders over the years. But perhaps the most unusual animal gatecrasher is the pine marten who suddenly appeared during a Swiss League encounter between FC Thun and FC Zurich in 2013. The weasel-like creature caused chaos when he wandered onto the pitch, evaded capture for five minutes and bit defender Loris Benito, who briefly managed to pick him up.
In the end, it was left to Zurich keeper David Da Costa, wisely armed with a pair of gloves, to bring the nippy creature’s antics to an end.
6. The gun-toting club owner
Football club owners are often accused of not caring enough about action on the field. But the problem with Ivan Savvidis is that he cared just a little too much.
Indeed, the PAOK president sent the opposing AEK Athens players fleeing for the tunnel in 2018 when he stormed onto the pitch to protest a late disallowed goal. With a holstered pistol.
Savvidis didn’t just automatically forfeit the match with his gun-toting behaviour – his side was also docked another three points, the national team was threatened with a ban by FIFA and the Greek Super League was suspended for two weeks.
5. The pitch invasion that wasn’t
Benjamin Mendy was just seconds away from being rugby tackled to the ground by a pair of overzealous and not-particularly-observant stewards following his side’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool earlier this year.
The injured defender simply ran onto the pitch after the final whistle blew to celebrate with the rest of his team-mates. But sporting a garish orange bomber jacket, ripped white jeans and a black woolly hat, Mendy was briefly mistaken for an unusually dressed pitch invader.
After recognising their mistake in the nick of time, the two stewards tried to style it out by pretending they were just going for a post-match jog.
4. The man on crutches
The security at Australia’s Central Coast Stadium is obviously a little more lax than the Etihad Stadium’s.
Whereas Manchester City’s stewards were ready to apprehend a speedy professional footballer at a moment’s notice, staff at Central Coast Mariners’ ground appeared to be completely oblivious when a man with an apparent broken leg sauntered onto the pitch. Donning a moon boot and pair of crutches, as well as an Aussie cricket shirt, the man in question headed straight for the goalmouth area that opposing Sydney FC fans were sitting behind.
There he goaded them for nearly a minute before finally being escorted away by sluggish officials.
3. The paid streaker
Streakers are 10-a-penny when it comes to the football pitch invasion.
But there was something different about the one that gatecrashed Rijnsburgse Boys’ encounter with AFC in 2018 – she was a professional adult entertainer paid for by the home fans to bare all and distract their opponents during the Dutch third-tier game.
Wearing nothing but shoes, knee-length socks and an abundance of tattoos, the blonde named Foxy reportedly entered the field through a fence gap waving a Rijnsburgse flag. Unsurprisingly, this bizarre tactic didn’t exactly have the desired effect – AFC still ran out 6-2 winners.
2. The tennis ball deluge
Throwing tennis balls onto the pitch has become a surprisingly common form of protest over the last decade. In 2016 Borussia Dortmund fans did so to show their dismay at rising ticket prices. Two years previously, Blackpool supporters revolted against the disastrous running of their beloved club by lobbing a mix of balls and tangerines from the stands.
But perhaps the most impressive, and relevant, tennis ball deluge appeared courtesy of the Swiss League in 2010. Fans of FC Basel were so enraged at a national TV network moving their kick-off time to accommodate a Roger Federer match that they threw enough balls on the pitch to suspend play for 40 whole minutes.
1. Jimmy Jump
We could dedicate this entire list to the antics of football’s most famous and most irksome pitch invader.
Jimmy Jump first made a name for himself at Euro 2004 when he threw a Barcelona flag at Luis Figo to protest the midfielder’s move to Real Madrid four years before. He then got political at the following Euros when he interrupted the Germany-Turkey match wearing a T-shirt inscribed with “Tibet is not China”.
The man born Jaume Marquet i Cot has also disrupted games in the Hungarian and Spanish domestic leagues, the Champions League and the World Cup, most notably attempting (and failing) to place a traditional Catalonian hat on the Jules Rimet trophy before the 2010 final.