It took less than 15 minutes for one of the wilder blasts of winter to put the FA Cup aspirations of Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur into deep freeze at the City Ground last night as an unforecast snowstorm forced their fifth-round tie to be abandoned.
The referee, Gary Willard, was left with little option but to call off the tie as the playing surface and the participants - Spurs dressed in all-white strip - rapidly became invisible. Willard described the conditions as the worst he had encountered as a match official.
No weather forecast had predicted anything more severe than "rather frequent snow showers" for the East Midlands area, and although light snow began falling in the minutes before kick-off the pitch was perfectly playable. A short time after the 8pm start, however, the snow intensified and, whipped up by strong winds, quickly turned into a blizzard.
The only matter of record was a booking for Jason Dozzell, the Spurs midfielder. Gerry Francis, the Tottenham manager, says he will ask if the booking has to stand. "If there had been a goal, it would not have counted," he said.
"It is very frustrating," he added. "We were up for the game and started very well, although we would have been much more disappointed if we had been in front."
"There was nothing else that the referee could do tonight," the Forest manager, Frank Clark, said. "I have not seen a snowstorm like it since I was a boy in the North-east."
The match is likely to be rescheduled for a week tomorrow, 28 February, the date originally earmarked for any replay.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Phillips; Stone, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Woan; K Campbell, Silenzi. Substitutes: Haaland, McGregor, Fettis (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Wilson; Fox, Dozzell, S Campbell, Rosenthal; Armstrong, Sheringham. Substitutes: Howells, Nethercott, Day (gk).
Referee: G Willard (Worthing).
Last night's results, page 23Reuse content