Lists

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

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Peru 0, Nazis 1

Eight decades on, the events of a 1936 Berlin Olympics quarter-final remain a source of controversy in Peru. Their opponents were Austria, who had the backing of homeboy Adolf Hitler and the Nazis since Germany had been knocked out a day earlier. Peru came from 2-0 down and, despite having three goals disallowed, led 4-2 going into the final minute of extra time. Then came a pitch invasion, which led to an Austrian player being injured and the abandonment of the game.

Peru, who had five black players in their team, claimed the pitch invasion was a Nazi conspiracy to prevent them from winning. The Austrians, somewhat stretching credulity, claimed the pitch invaders were Peruvian fans. Reports in Peru later claimed that the referee had abandoned the game because he had suddenly noticed the pitch was the wrong size.

Whatever the given reason, a replay was ordered but Peru went home in protest, and Austria went on to win the silver medal. The events prompted widespread anti-German sentiment in the country, with Peruvians refusing to load goods on to German ships.

The ex-factor

Stevenage's triumph over Newcastle in 2011 was one of the FA Cup's great feelgood moments. At least it was until a member of the winning team was floored by a right hook from one of Stevenage's fans.

Initially there was bafflement about why a fan would do such a thing during what was otherwise a good-natured victorious pitch invasion. Later it emerged that Scott Laird, the player who had been punched, was the ex-boyfriend of the supporter's current girlfriend. The fan was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.

I'll take this one, Christian

We all know Christian Eriksen, Tottenham maestro, Denmark's shining light, born in Middelfart. It would seem unlikely, then, that a hotel receptionist who'd just had eight pints would be able to take a better free-kick than him. West Ham fan Jordan Dunn was a little worse for wear when he decided to invade the Upton Park pitch on the opening day of the season against Spurs, just as Eriksen was lining up a free-kick.

The fan escaped the stewards for long enough to race forward, dink the ball over the wall and force West Ham keeper Adrian into a save. Once the pitch invader departed, Eriksen stepped up to take the free-kick for real... and fired it over the bar. Hammers supporters had a whip-round to pay the fan's fine. It's doubtful that they also sprung for some extra set-piece coaching for Eriksen.

When United had the Power 

Minutes before kick-off at the Olympiastadion in 2001, a formidable Manchester United side were lining up for a pre-match photo, ready for a Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. They looked particularly imposing on this occasion, almost as if they had 12 men. United legends side by side – Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Wes Brown and... wait a minute, who's that guy?

In a stunt that had been two years in the planning, unemployed labourer and United fan Karl Power – titular topic of Black Grape’s single Fat Neck – had blagged his way onto the pitch in full kit, complete with 'Cantona 7' on the back. As Power lined up next to an unsuspecting Andy Cole, Gary Neville tried to point out the interloper. "Shut up you grass, Eric sent me!" Power replied, and the photographers snapped away.

The kick that started a war

Political tensions were rising in Yugoslavia when Red Star Belgrade travelled to fierce rivals Dinamo Zagreb for a crucial league match in May 1990. Fights broke out between the two sets of fans outside the Maksimir Stadium before kick-off and things got worse when the game started, eventually resulting in Zagreb supporters storming the pitch. As riot cops battled to push them back, Dinamo captain Zvonimir Boban aimed a flying kick at a police officer.

Boban in action... and playing football

Boban in action... and playing football

It has since been described as “the kick that started a war”, although the Croatian War of Independence did not officially start for another 10 months. Boban was banned for six months, ruling him out of the 1990 World Cup, but would later go on to star for AC Milan and Croatia.