The Day Saddam Hussein Kept Chelsea FC Waiting

One of the very first known photographs of Stamford Bridge, taken during Chelsea’s Division Two match against West Bromwich in 1905

One of the very first known photographs of Stamford Bridge, taken during Chelsea’s Division Two match against West Bromwich in 1905


Pat Nevin recounted how a football match was delayed because the VIP guest hadn’t turned up yet. For an whole hour. In 110 degrees.

Chelsea played Iraq National X1 on 4th March, 1986 in Baghdad. The match attracted an official attendance of 15,000.

Nevin recounted,

We went to the game, we turned up. But the VIP guest hadn’t turned up. So, the entire crowd which was thirty thousand, all the players, all sides waited. Referees, everyone, waited for the VIP guest for an hour.

On being asked who was this tweezle, Nevin reveals,

Well if it had been Nelson Mandela, I would have been delighted, it wasn’t. It was Saddam Hussein.

The match ended in 1-1. And Chelsea won on penalties.

Here is the video of the original talk show:

Here is a highlights video of the match (bad quality):

In case you are curious, here is the starting XI from the day:
Niedzwicki, Lee (Dublin), Rougvie (Millar), Pates, McLaughlin, Bumstead, McAllister (Nevin), Wood, Dixon, Speedie (Jasper), Murphy