Keith Curle looks back at Battle of Bramall Lane 20 years on – the only English game ever abandoned for lack of players

FORMER England worldwide Keith Curle has carried out greater than most in the game – however there may be one notorious match that he was concerned in that stands out greater than most.

The ex defender was captain of Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United when a Championship game towards West Brom precisely 20 years in the past was known as to a halt after it descended into chaos.

 Keith Curle, centre, was captain of Sheffield United during the Battle of Bramall Lane
Keith Curle, centre, was captain of Sheffield United throughout the Battle of Bramall LaneCredit: Trevor Smith

It nonetheless stays the only skilled match in English soccer historical past to be abandoned as a result of one group didn’t have sufficient players to proceed.

Reflecting on a bit of soccer folklore, Curle instructed Sun Sport beforehand mentioned: “When you look back on it now, it’s surreal. It was farcical.

“In the dressing room after there was just sheer disbelief about what had happened.”

Widely often known as the ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’, United hosted high-flying Baggies who had been pushing for promotion underneath boss Gary Megson.

Megson had beforehand managed fierce rivals Sheffield Wednesday whereas there was historical past between Sheffield United’s Georges Santos and West Brom’s Andrew Johnson.

The season prior, then-Nottingham Forest participant Johnson had clashed with Santos leaving him with a fractured cheekbone during which he refused to apologise.

Warnock’s aspect had been off to a disastrous begin when keeper Simon Tracey was despatched off in the ninth minute for a deliberate handball.

It acquired worse 9 minutes later when Scott Dobie fired the guests forward to arrange an extended afternoon for the Blades.

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With 63 minutes gone, McInnes smashed residence a terrific strike to offer Albion a 2-0 lead.

Warnock responded immediately by bringing on Santos and ahead Patrick Suffo.

It proved to be the catalyst to mayhem and Santos immediately noticed a possibility for revenge – flying right into a horror problem on Johnson leaving him in agony on the turf.

Curle mentioned of the deal with: “Looking back on it now it was horrendous. It was troublesome to place into phrases as a result of there was apparent pent up frustration and resentment from Georges.

“If you know Georges he’s not like that, that’s not him as a person. He obviously felt that the injury caused to him was done with malice. The melee that happened afterwards was mindless.”

 Georges Santos lunged in with a horrendous tackle on Johnson
Georges Santos lunged in with a horrendous deal with on Johnson
 The incident sparked a huge melee on the field
The incident sparked an enormous melee on the areaCredit: PA:Press Association

A straight purple adopted and it sparked an enormous brawl amongst each units of players that resulted in Suffo head-butting McInnes.

Suffo was additionally handed his marching orders leaving United with simply eight males.

Curle recollects: “The game became farcical. It became a game of damage limitation.”

Minutes later it was three when Dobie had his second.

West Brom might have gone on to attain a boatload if it wasn’t for what occurred subsequent.

Michael Brown walked off the area with harm earlier than Rob Ullathorne apparently pulled his hamstring.

Sheffield United had been down to 6 and referee Eddie Wolstenholme had no alternative however to desert the game on 82 minutes.

Curle provides: “The referee said Ullathorne had to stay on. They were both injuries. Ullathorne got cramp and did his hamstring, Michael Brown tried to be substituted earlier but we didn’t have any subs left, so for fear of injury he just walked off.”

 Sheffield United were reduced to eight men before two more came off injured
Sheffield United had been diminished to eight males earlier than two extra got here off injuredCredit: PA:Press Association
 It remains the only game to be abandoned over a lack of players
It stays the only game to be abandoned over a lack of playersCredit: PA:Press Association
 Curle disputed claims that Warnock asked him to get more men off the field
Curle disputed claims that Warnock requested him to get extra males off the area

Megson was completely fuming with their behaviour and mentioned after the game: “Everybody’s heard it; everybody knows what was going on.”

Curle, who was fortunate to not see purple for an obvious punch on McInnes, nonetheless disputes Megson’s declare to this present day.

He additionally laughed off strategies {that a} touchline dialog with Warnock at 3-0 was a ploy to have the game abandoned.

Curle added: “I nonetheless get talked about in the game. Quite a bit ask if it was calculated. Was it arrange? No. Was it arrange for Warnock to carry Georges on to get revenge? No.

“They acquired lip-reading consultants to try to decide up the dialog I had with Neil. There was a debate about what Neil had mentioned to me, whether or not I instructed to get one other man despatched off or get one other man off the pitch? It was nowhere close to the case.

“I can’t remember what Warnock said. In no way shape or form was it to get the game abandoned.”

The victory was awarded to West Brom whereas Sheffield United had been fined £10,000, Suffo £3,000 with each he and Santos awarded six-game bans.

 Megson accused Warnock of deliberately getting the game abandoned
Megson accused Warnock of intentionally getting the game abandonedCredit: Getty Images – Getty

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