Not as long a piece as normal today because I am recalling a game that lasted nowhere near as long as normal – I’m pretty sure I am right in saying that the City v Millwall match on 4 November 1967 is the only home match that has been abandoned due to bad weather since I started watching the club and I’m also fairly certain that we haven’t had an away game abandoned in that time either.
There is no record of this game now in any of the books I have that traces the club’s history and so I will have to rely entirely on my pretty sketchy memories of the occasion. The first thing is to say that what I can recall of that day centres more on what happened after it than what happened out on the pitch. I can recall that, after a pretty dry morning, it started absolutely emptying down as I was making my way to the ground and that the rain got so bad that, around twenty five minutes into the game, the referee decided that play couldn’t continue. I seem to remember that there was general confusion as to what had happened for a few minutes after the ref led the teams off and that people were not too happy once the penny dropped as to what had happened.
The only memory I have of the actual play now is how Ronnie Bird’s normal trick of knocking the ball past the full back and then trying to beat him for pace was nowhere near as effective as usual because, increasingly, the ball just would not roll across the waterlogged pitch – I have a suspicion that officials are much more prepared to call things off these days than they were and so I don’t doubt that the ref on the day only made the decision he did because conditions had got farcical.
The funny thing is that whenever I have discussed this game in the past, I have said that it was played on bonfire night because, as an eleven year old at the time, I can remember my main concern throughout that very wet afternoon was that we wouldn’t be able to watch my dad let off the fireworks we had bought later in the day (as it turned out, the rain stopped as quickly as it had arrived and he was able to squelch his way around our back garden letting off Roman Candles, Rockets and Catharine Wheels to his heart’s content!) .
On the face of it, with the match being played the day before bonfire night, it would seem my memory is awry, but I reckon an explanation can be found in the way that attitudes towards the Sabbath were so much different then than they are now. It might come as a surprise to anyone who wasn’t around at that time to learn that Sunday’s were very much the day of rest back in those days. As I remember it, there were no shops open, no sport played and religious programmes galore on the telly – therefore I think there was every chance that when 5 November fell on a Sunday, families used to put their firework displays back or forward a day.
Things began to change as far as Sunday’s went in the early 70’s – I can remember weekly drives to shops in Neville Street and somewhere in Rhiwbina because they had taken the revolutionary step of actually opening for business on a Sunday while the late Brian Clark became the first player to score a goal in a Football League game played on a Sunday when he netted for Millwall in the 73/74 campaign (a couple of weeks later, City’s first ever scheduled Sunday match, with Crystal Palace, was called off because the Ninian Park pitch was unplayable and the match had to be rescheduled for the end of the season when Tony Villars’ great goal kept us up at Palace’s expense).
As for the abandoned Millwall match, it was replayed on a Tuesday night about a month later – my recollection is that people who were at the first match got some sort of discount on the admission price and the game ended 2-2 with John Toshack and Bobby Brown scoring our goals.
4 November 1967
Cardiff City 0 Millwall 0 (match abandoned in the first half – no team or attendance details I’m afraid)