Abandoned Games



It is generally a rare occurrence when a football match is abandoned, for the most part it is weather related but on occasion other factors come in to play. Nothing is more frustrating when you are winning a game then go onto lose the rearranged match. Below isn’t an exhaustive list of Motherwell games which have fell foul of such incidents but a small selection that have occured.

Motherwell vs Falkirk, 24th December 1966

Christmas Eve at Fir Park and the Steelmen were beating Falkirk 3-1, one set of lights at the Southern end of the ground failed but the referee decided to carry on with the game. It was a Saturday fixture, as the game progressed and the early evening set in it was around the 72nd minute mark that the linesman on the Main Stand side signalled to the referee and after a brief consultation it was decided that the match would be abandoned.

Frustratingly when the rearranged fixture came around in April, the Bairns managed to win the game 1-2.

St Johnstone vs Motherwell, 21st November 1992

It seems that its always cold or rainy in Perth when Motherwell visit, with 6000 odd in attendance a sudden blizzard hit McDiarmid Park. 0-0 at half time the ground staffs efforts to clear the snow from the pitch proved to be fruitless as no sooner had the cleared the lines they were covered again.

As an announcement was made to the fans who had braved the weather, it then dawned on the Lanarkshire contingent that a truly horrible journey back home awaited. More misery was compounded only three days later as the Saints won the rearranged fixture 0-2.

Falkirk vs Motherwell, 31st January 1995

The ‘Well drew Premier League rivals Falkirk out the hat for the Third Round in the Scottish Cup, the tie seemed cursed from the get go as the original match was postponed due to snow. The rearranged tie took place at Brockville on a Tuesday night and as the game reached the 57th minute mark the stadium was plunged into darkness as the floodlights failed.

As the crowd hung around for 20 minutes, they were finally put out of their misery when the game was abandoned. The Bairns staff created hastily made vouchers for fans to re-enter the ground when the rescheduled match would take place. A few cheeky fans of course used their printers to make duplicate copies and a bumper away support on the 6th February would see Motherwell advance 2-0. 

Season 1999/00 saw two abandonments and on both occasions Motherwell were winning 1-0 at half time when the decisions were taken by the match officials.

Motherwell vs Hearts, 20th September 1999

A Monday night fixture live on SKY TV brought a feisty encounter as the Jambos visited Fir Park. The game had started amidst a torrential downpour, Shaun Teale managed to convert from the spot on the 24th minute after Hearts defender Steven Pressley fouled John Spencer, ‘Well of course went in at the break with the 1-0 advantage.

As both sides enjoyed the half time break, match official John Rowbotham appeared with a ball and started to make an attempt to dribble the ball around the pitch. As both sides started to reappear he made the decision to abandon the match. 

It later transpired that Hearts’ chief executive Chris Robinson had visited Rowbotham in the referees room at half time to make a protest and complain about the safety of his players. Motherwell chairman John Boyle was particularly miffed at the decision stating:

What distresses me is that the Hearts chief executive went into the referee’s room at half-time to make a protest and I think that’s out of order,I would have preferred it if the referee had made his decision completely impartially as we understand protests were made in advance of it.

SKY TV approached Rowbotham for comment after the match but he refused.

Not to worry though as in the rearranged fixture Motherwell won 2-1 with Pat Nevin snatching a 94th minute winner.

Arbroath vs Motherwell, 29th January 2000

As the Scottish Cup rolled around in January 2000, the club were drawn out of the hat to face Arbroath. The whole of Scotland would fall foul to the blustery weather, Celtic’s game at Parkhead against Inverness Caledonian Thistle was called off due to the conditions causing damage to the stadium, the rearranged fixture of course would provide one of the biggest shocks in the competitions history as the team from the Highlands would win the tie 1-3 and the famous headline “Super Caley go ballistic Celtic are atrocious” was coined.

At Gayfield however referee Mike McCurry decided to play the game, high winds were whipping in from the North Sea, ‘Well’s opener from Derek Townsley came from a wind assisted free kick and the side went in at half time leading. Quite bizarrely however no announcement was made about the game being abandoned until the ground staff started removing the nets and corner flags. The rearranged fixture took place three days later and finished 1-1 meaning a replay in Lanarkshire was required.

The replay wouldn’t take place until the 19th of February as pitch problems at Fir Park played havoc and caused a number of postponements, thankfully however the Steelmen negotiated their way through a tricky tie winning 2-0 with Don Goodman and Lee McCulloch scoring.

Motherwell vs Hibernian, 2nd December 2011

Back during the 1994/95 season the league tried a Friday night football experiment as a match at Fir Park between Motherwell and Hibernian was shown on SKY TV, the match itself was a dull affair finishing 0-0 and the idea pretty much died a death as it didn’t captive as much as expected. The idea was relaunched during the 2011/12 season and funnily enough for Motherwell their first opponent was Hibernian at Fir Park.

The game was shown on live tv again, a crowd of 6,741 were in attendance with a good following coming through from Edinburgh, the ticket prices were slashed to entice more supporters along to the game. The Hibees had just appointed a new manager in the shape of Pat Fenlon and Motherwell were giving Stephen Hughes his first start in his second spell since re-joining the club.

The match itself was a pretty forgettable affair for the Steelmen as Hibs certainly enjoyed the new manager bounce as they dominated much of the match taking a 1-0 lead on the 16th minute through Garry O’Connor, it remained this way until half time. As it transpired their had been a small electrical fire in one of the floodlights at the South Stand end just before half time which resulted in the game being abandoned. The match officials delayed the start of the second half, as they couldn’t get reassurance that it was going to be safe it was decided the game couldn’t continue.

The rearranged fixture provided an exciting affair in February, a bigger crowd of 8,065 were in attendance as the Steelmen ran out 4-3 winners. In the interests of fairness perhaps Hibs were up 0-1 at half time, but six goals followed in the second half as Michael Higdon netted a hat trick which include two penalties and a stunning over head kick.

Motherwell vs Dundee United, 6th October 2012

Perhaps falls into the category of strange abandoned games if such a thing exists. A cold but bright day in early October saw Motherwell face off against Dundee United. Fans filed into Fir Park, players done their warm ups, managers done their pre match interviews but minutes before kick off smoke started billowing from a generator at the side of the Main Stand and as it transpired their was a major power cut in the area, it was decided to abandon the match. Chief Executive Leanne Dempster did state if the game had kicked off before this happened they would have taken the decision to proceed with the match.

Due to some fans taking advantage of vouchers being distributed for re-entry to the rearranged fixture Motherwell eventually introduced vouchers which were given to pay at the gate fans for each match which they could use if a match would suffer a similar fate in future.

Dundee United won the rearrange fixture on the 7th November 0-1 thanks to a late Johnny Russell goal.

Aberdeen vs Motherwell, 13th December 2016

Perhaps the less said about this whole situation the better, the original tie in December 2016 was only 6 minutes in when Pittodrie was plunged into darkness. Aberdeen had been running a generator at their stadium due to a power problem in the area. After almost 20 minutes of trying to fix the problem the lighting was restored and as play resumed the stadium once again plunged into darkness as the generator tripped. The game was abandoned.

The rearranged tie took place on the 15th February 2017 and the men from Lanarkshire crashed to a dismal 7-2 defeat. Ryan Bowman after a long wait managed to score his first goal for the club and veteran Stephen Pearson also got on the scoresheet for what would be his last ever goal in claret and amber as he would hang up his boots at the end of the campaign.

Kilmarnock vs Motherwell, 27th February 2019

0-0 at half time against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in a midweek fixture in February 2019 was abandoned due to fog which started to form just before half time. Despite the visibility being extremely poor referee John Beaton decided to kick off the second half but shortly after he decided to stop the game and call it quits. Both sides replayed the game only a matter of days later as both clubs weren’t in action due to Scottish Cup fixtures being played that weekend, the match finished 0-0. Their was some controversy in the re-entry to the new game as Killie decided to charge fans who had originally paid to enter despite having distributed vouchers to those in attendance, they offered cut priced tickets at a fiver but it was only Kilmarnock season ticket holders who were allowed free entry. Motherwell stepped up and offered to pay the tickets to all fans who went to the original fixture.