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Caught cold?

ESPN staff
January 2, 2014
Manchester United beat Leicester in the FA Cup final in 1963 © Getty Images
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I have heard that between Boxing Day 1962 and March 1963 there was no major sport because of severe cold and snow. How did the football leagues catch up? asked Mel from Derby

The 1962-63 winter was a bad one, and sport was hard-hit - undersoil heating was still in its infancy, although Everton had installed it in 1958) - so the majority of sports arenas were frozen solid, or under snow.

Norwich City apparently used flame-throwers to melt the snow at Carrow Road … and ended up flooding the pitch. Halifax Town gave up, and turned their ground into an ice rink.

In the Football League, Barnsley were the hardest hit - they played only two league games between December 22 and March 12. And in the FA Cup, the third round (the big one where the top-division clubs enter for the first time) took more than two months to complete.

Still, by playing frequently once the snow had melted, the season finished just about on time - Manchester United beat Leicester City in the FA Cup final on May 25.

Actually the 1946-47 winter - another famously cold one - was worse for football: that season didn't finish until mid-June. It was a similar story in 1962-63 in rugby league, a winter sport back then: Wigan played no league games at all in January or February 1963, and their season eventually also finished at the end of May.

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