With the return of the Premier League, Liverpool and Chelsea doing battle in the Super Cup, the Carabao Cup kicking off, security dogs patrolling Mesut Ozil’s home and swirling transfer rumours across the continent, this week has thrown up plenty of talking points in the world of football.
But among all that action, one topic of discussion has superseded all others: the humble pitch invasion.
In the past few days, two separate incidents have hit the headlines for very different reasons. One happened in the suburbs of Manchester, the other in the heart of Istanbul, but they both shared one distinct trait: what unfolded on the pitch was nothing short of ludicrous.
Both moments immediately jumped into our top five farcical pitch invasions list (What? You don’t have one?). So, without further ado, let’s see where they rank among the rest. Listening to the Benny Hill theme whilst watching these isn’t compulsory, but highly recommended…
5. West Ham vs Tottenham (2014)
Top marks all round for this lad, who not only managed to outpace the stewards as he ran the length of Upton Park, but also demonstrated remarkable stamina and composure to chip in a very decent free-kick on his left peg.
It was certainly a better attempt than what Christian Eriksen mustered moments later.
4. Birmingham vs Aston Villa (2017)
There’s nothing quite like watching a good old fashioned pitch chase, and this is right up there with the best of them. Right from the off the Brummie charges like he’s entering a WWE ring, before fooling the first steward with a couple of neat shimmies. That steward wisely didn’t bother giving pursuit, almost as if he prophetically knew what was about to happen.
After making his way to the other end of the pitch, the invader darts across the penalty area, drawing two stewards in and showboating away from them with a backwards jig. Cue a man wearing hi-vis and definitely-not-suitable footwear going for a vintage tumble, much to the delight of the crowd.
3. Luxembourg vs Russia (2013)
This World Cup qualifier momentarily came to a halt when one supporter decided to take centre stage, somehow finding the narrow gap between two burly baying security guards.
He then proceeds to have the thought that most invaders tend to have – “Errr… what the f*ck do I do now?” – before opting to slide into the net head first.
After a display of such neat footwork and pace, we wouldn’t be surprised if Fabio Capello is asking the UEFA official if he can come on for Russia.
2. Liverpool vs Chelsea (2019)
Just days after signing for the club as a backup stopper, Adrian was thrown into the deep end in the UEFA Super Cup. He made himself a hero by saving the decisive spot-kick during the penalty shootout, but the celebrations turned sour when a pitch invader attempted to join the keeper in his celebrations.
He failed. Epically.
As Liverpool gaffer Jurgen Klopp explained: “A supporter jumped over something, was chased by some security guys, slipped and kicked his ankle. Crazy.” Adrian’s injury at the hands of the pitch invader means the Reds could be forced to field veteran Andy Lonergan at the weekend.
1. Salford City vs Leeds (2019)
During their Carabao Cup clash earlier this week, one Salford local jumped at his chance to, er, jump over the advertising hoardings and make a name for himself.
After neatly dribbling past Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, the supporter gives himself an open goal to tap the ball into. This is the moment he dreamt about, the day he could tell his grandkids about: “I scored at Moor Lane!”
But no, he royally cocked it up in style – swinging, missing, slipping, climbing back up and then making a diving header in vain as a steward prods the ball away.
Farcical scenes that he won’t want to watch back any time soon. But everyone else will.