Boiler suits, rugby bees, Batman, Nazis and civil war: Football’s weirdest pitch invasions

It’s May, which means opportunist fans get to leg it onto the hallowed turf in celebration. Chris Flanagan looks back at the game’s most irrational irruptions… 

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Bundes boilers

FC Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach have never been the best of friends but the Rhine derby took an unlikely turn in February, in what could have been confused for the first sign of the apocalypse.

Outbreak: Gladbach's glade invaded by creepy Koln crusaders

Outbreak: Gladbach's glade invaded by creepy Koln crusaders

As Mönchengladbach celebrated a Bundesliga win given to them by a late Granit Xhaka goal, hordes of Köln fans dressed in sinister white boiler suits started to maraud across the pitch. Thankfully they weren’t responding to some sort of terrible chemical accident threatening human existence, but were merely up for a bit of mischief and were chased off the pitch by riot police.

How (not) to shoot

A photographer is one of life's artists, determined to capture the moment with the perfect picture, forever seeking a unique angle that no one else thought to find.

Seeing that a penalty was about to be taken during a women's match in Russia, one official photographer decided there was no better way to document the moment than to charge into the middle of the pitch and set up his tripod, ready for the spot-kick. After all, why wouldn't he be allowed to do that? Unfortunately, he had overstepped the mark – by about 30 yards – and the frustrated artist was swiftly sent off by the referee.

Thank goodness you're here, Batman

Things can escalate quickly in League Two. "All I wanted to do was applaud the fans who were in their fancy dress and doing the conga," said a slightly perplexed Jimmy Bell. “Instead I had Fred Flintstone, Batman and Robin jumping out of the crowd to help me."

Accrington had just lost an end-of-season fixture at Crewe Alexandra and assistant boss Bell was applauding the visiting fans when he was inexplicably mistaken for a pitch invader by stewards and wrestled to the ground. Thankfully before anyone could say 'Holy Accrington Stanley assistant manager', fancy-dress supporters had invaded the pitch and rushed to Bell's aid. Good work, Batman.

Alarmed Bell: The Accy assistant found himself collared

Alarmed Bell: The Accy assistant found himself collared

That must have stung

Burnley mascot Bertie Bee has been no stranger to controversy over the years, having been locked in the Turf Moor jail two years ago when he was sent from the touchline for offering his glasses to a linesman. But Bertie's greatest sting operation came in a Lancashire derby against Preston in 2000.

A streaker ran on to the pitch and managed to evade the chasing stewards – only to be to sent flying through the air by the perfect rugby tackle from Bertie Bee, who puzzlingly appears to have human feet. "I played rugby league for about 15 years," Bertie buzzed. “I just thought to myself I’m going to have to take him out. It was my biggest moment, but the streaker’s smallest moment.”

Jumping the Gunn 

There is no more dramatic show of disgust than the hurling of the season ticket, although most fans like to get at least some of their money's worth before they do it. Not so at Norwich, where two fans got precisely 22 minutes of football for their £350 season tickets in 2009, before charging across the pitch and throwing them at beleaguered manager Bryan Gunn.

By then Norwich were already 4-0 down at home to Colchester in their first game in League One. The game finished 7-1 and Gunn was promptly sacked. Luckily the two fans didn't miss much in the other 22 home games that season... apart from 16 wins and 47 goals as Paul Lambert – hired from Colchester, having passed the audition – led Norwich to the title.