Photobombs, streaks & pitch invasions. Do you remember any of these?
Europe’s football stars weren’t the only people to step onto the turf at some of the stadiums during this year’s UEFA European Championship tournament. So who were Euro 2016’s pitch invaders – and who else has made a name for themselves by storming onto a sports field in the past?
Photobombs and Junior Pitch Invaders – Euro 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo’s face was a picture when a cheeky ball boy tried to photobomb the Portuguese team while their team shot was being taken before their semi-final tie with Wales. The youngster capitalised on his proximity to the Real Madrid forward by persuading him to take a selfie with him too.
Pitch invaders were also responsible for landing the Welsh team in hot water with UEFA during the competition – although the culprits were some of the players’ children, who joined them after their historic wins over Northern Ireland and Belgium.
Gareth Bale’s three year old daughter, Alba Violet, charmed the crowd when she ran on to celebrate with her Dad after the Dragons’ 1 – 0 victory against Northern Ireland, while other players’ children, including Neil Taylor’s daughter and son, Madison and Marley, also made on-pitch appearances to the delight of the Euro crowd.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) was given a warning after the team’s 3 -1 quarter-final win against Belgium and tournament director, Martin Kallen, made some stern comments to the press about the Dragons’ behaviour, saying “It is a European Championship, not a family party”.
Famous Sports Field Fan Invasions
Pitch invasions, of course, are far from new. One of the most famous incidents in British football took place at Wembley in 1977, after Scotland beat England by 2 – 1. When the final whistle sounded, the Tartan Army charged onto the pitch, stealing pieces of turf to take home as trophies and tearing the goal posts down.
In April 1999, cricket fans watching the fifth in a series of seven one-day internationals between the West Indies and Australia in Georgetown, Guyana, didn’t even wait until the match had ended before flooding onto the field. They invaded the pitch twice, the second time just before the final over, when they stole the stumps. The police had to force them back beyond the ropes, and replacement stumps had to be found, so that the players could conclude the match.
Infamous Imposters and Celebrated Streakers
Some individuals have even made names for themselves by their uninvited on-pitch activities – and the Euro 2016 ball boy that amused Cristiano Ronaldo so much wasn’t the first person to try and sneak into an official team photo.
Karl Power, a notorious prankster with a long history of making unscheduled appearances at major sporting events, managed to make his way onto the pitch and line up with Manchester United for their photos before their Champions League match against Bayern Munich back in 2001.
A few months later, Power walked out onto the field at Headingley during an Ashes test match, masquerading as a batsman for the English team. He also appeared on the podium at the 2002 British Grand Prix and played a game of tennis on Wimbledon’s Centre Court before a Tim Henman match.
Another famous Brit, Mark Roberts, is known for a different reason – but again it’s not for winning sports trophies. Before his “retirement” in 2013, the Liverpudlian completed 519 streaks, many of them taking place during well-known sports tournaments. Over the course of his two decade-long “career”, Roberts stripped off at some unlikely events, including the 2003 World Synchronised Swimming Championships, the 1996 Grand National, Wimbledon and even the 2003 Pamplona Bull Run.
Winged and Four-Legged Pitch Invasions
It’s not only humans who have been snapped by the press on the field during matches either. In February 2012, a stray tabby cat, which had been seen by staff at Anfield regularly over the years, shot onto the pitch during Liverpool’s Premier League tie against Spurs and headed into Tottenham’s penalty area.
Just a few months later, disgruntled Blackburn Rovers fans let a chicken loose during a Premier League match against Wigan Athletic, a game Blackburn lost, securing their relegation in the process. The act was a protest against the club’s owners, Venkys, a poultry processing company. Blackburn fans also let chickens onto the pitch in matches against Burnley in 2013 and 2014.