Leicester and Southampton had very different expectations once they met at Filbert Street on 15 October 1983. Leicester were rooted to rock bottom of the table, without a win in their first eight matches. In contrast, Southampton were second within the table and knew a victory could take them top.
It didn’t quite end up like that. In fact, both teams would go away empty handed after the match was abandoned with just 22 minutes played. Heavy rainfall left the playing surface resembling a paddy in places, as players and officials struggled to deal with the conditions.
The game, which was captured on Match of the Day for posterity, started off relatively sedately. But with the rain lashing down and therefore the wind learning , the action soon began to combat a comedic slant. With the ball starting to stick within the puddles forming on the pitch, playing football became a challenge.
A torrential downpour during the sport proved an excessive amount of for the already saturated surface, because the mere task of dribbling and spending became a farce. Referee Robert Nixon halted proceedings to debate things with one among his assistants, before deciding to hold on regardless. Cheers might be heard among the gang of but 9,000 at Filbert Street, as play restarted. Yet, with John Motson describing the pitch as “virtually unplayable”, chances of the match finishing looked slim.
Players tried to require the pitch out of the equation by going aerial, although it didn’t work. Kevin MacDonald’s backpass to keeper Mark Wallington was thumped so hard it almost went out for a corner. MacDonald later found himself struggling to dribble the ball through the shallow end, before releasing Gary Lineker. He and Mark Wright slid towards the advertising boards like tobogganists, with every slip, mistake, failed pass and dribble and splash furiously “waheyed” by the amused spectators. agen judi bola terbaik https://www.judibolaterbaik.co
The part of the comedy was Steve Lynex performing the breaststroke after being fouled by Steve Moran. “A little swimming gesture by Steve Lynex as he fell, as if to point that’s the sole thanks to get through,” said Motson. “It’s all something of a lottery,” he added, because the show continued.
All goodies need to come to an end, though. After Lineker twice did not take the ball with him in quick succession, and players thrashed around at the ball hopelessly, Nixon had seen enough. “The referee has had to bring it to an end, and admittedly I’m unsurprised ,” said Motson.
Nixon, Milne, and McMenemy later appeared on the pitch to debate the prospect of resuming the match. But, with rain continuing to fall, the outlook seemed bleak. Groundstaff prodded forks into the surface during a desperate plan to drain a number of the water. it had been a reasonably pointless act.
Milne didn’t look happy as he left the pitch and he let loose his frustration after the abandonment. “We could have cleared the bottom given time,” he complained. His wasn’t the sole dissenting voice. Groundsman Steve Welch was adamant that Nixon had made an error , saying the playing surface was fit by 3.55pm. Maybe Milne and Welch were sensing the prospect of a rare win for Leicester on a pitch that levelled the playing field.
At least the referee had one supporter in Jimmy Hill. “It was clear there was no alternative aside from to abandon the sport ,” said the presenter on Match of the Day. Leicester won the rematch at the top of November as they rotated their season and eventually avoided relegation. Southampton finished as runners-up to Liverpool within the league and also suffered the agony of losing an FA Cup semi-final to Everton.
Southampton played 51 matches during the 1983-84 season, but it’s those 22 minutes at Filbert Street that stick in my memory. Football are often a touch too serious sometimes , with insufficient room for a couple of “waheys” and levity within the crowd. Leicester v Southampton in October 1983 made for entertaining viewing and reduced professional footballers to the extent of the paying spectators, proving that the game can occasionally give us a refreshing break from the norm.