Referee Webb ‘Was Not To Blame!’ – Manchester City’s Mysteriously Abandoned Game

On 7th January 1956, with the score at 1-1 Manchester City’s cup tie with Blackpool was abandoned in the 56th minute after fog enveloped the ground. The game was an extraordinary one with City fans angry that it had ever started. In thick fog the referee H Webb (no not that one!) of Leeds said the game should go ahead because, although those in the stands could see little, he claimed he could see both ends of the pitch.

Blackpool kicked off to start the game but City were unable to see what was going on unless they were close up to the ball. Within 13 seconds Ernie Taylor, who later signed for Manchester United of course, scored without a single City man touching the ball (or even seeing it it seems). 

After 37 minutes the players left the field and it looked like the game would be abandoned but, to the shock of the City players (who seemed to want it abandoning according to some reports, though we all know how things can be incorrectly reported), the match restarted. 

A longer half-time than usual followed but still the game went on. After eight minutes City’s Jack Dyson was fouled in the area – although only the referee, Dyson and the man who committed the foul seemed to know this at the time. Dyson scored the resulting penalty and then a couple of minutes later referee H Webb abandoned the game (maybe it was that H Webb after all!).

Amazingly one newspaper photograph of the game did appear, but apart from that it seems the public didn’t see anything. A cartoon appeared in one ‘paper suggesting that fans only found out what happened when they went home and turned on their radios.

Four days later 42,517 attended Maine Road for a 2.15pm kick off on a Wednesday afternoon to see City win 2-1.

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