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No drinking but punching is A-ok: Memorable Good Friday clashes over the years

One can only imagine what the sober supporters made of such wanton behaviour unfolding before their God-fearing eyes.

Rob Kearney feels the Good Friday love in 2010
Rob Kearney feels the Good Friday love in 2010
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

WHAT BETTER WAY to spend a day abstaining from alcohol than attending the local ball park, ice rink or playing fields to check out some feisty Good Friday action.

The fixtures calendar has often proved the saviour for fans dreading long weekends trapped in the bosom of their families.

Our only question is: How easy is it to tackle a Yorkie Easter egg with hardly any teeth left?

Here are the Top 5 Good Friday clashes – some proved holier than others:

The Good Friday Brawl: Montreal Canadiens vs. Quebec Nordiques

Canadians, brawling and ice hockey players go together like off-licence queues and Holy Thursday. The Canadiens from Montreal ran into the Nordiques from Quebec in the 1984 NHL Play-offs and carnage soon unfolded. The fighting exploded on the ice at the end of the second period and lasted almost 10 minutes.

More than 252 penalty minutes were handed out by exasperated officials and 10 players were ejected from the game. That did not stop a second bout of fisticuffs from rumbling off in the third period.

When the ice chips settled, the Canadiens’ Mario Tremblay had broken the nose of Peter Stastny from the Nordiques while Louis Sleigher punched Jean Hamel unconscious. Also, Montreal won 5-3. That’s it settled so.

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When Liverpool and Manchester United teamed up – for illicit cash

A British footballing scandal wasn’t the only result of Liverpool and Manchester United’s Good Friday clash of 1915. United, who were facing relegation that season, emerged 2-0 winners but questions soon arose when a large amount of ‘betting hand-bills’ were found to have a United 2-0 victory given at odds of 7-1.

George Anderson scored both goals but Liverpool players were accused of lacking effort and a second-half penalty miss added to the suspicions. The F.A investigated and found that seven players were guilty of collusion – they received lifetime playing bans. The encompassing pull of the First World War soon made such matters fade from the public consciousness.

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Some of the 1909 Manchester United team (pictured here) featured in the Good Friday clash. Credit: The FA Cup Annual/EMPICS Sport

A League (Scrap) of It’s Own: St Helen’s vs. Wigan

Wigan and St Helen’s have enjoyed a storied Super League rivalry and there is always a bit of needle going into their matches. Good Friday in 2004 was no different as a late, off the ball challenge sparked pandemonium and led to a 20-man brawl. The fact that none of the players were floored after receiving shuddering blows is only surpassed in the shock stakes by the continuation of the match.

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Hands were shaken at the final whistle and ice pack sales soared in the North of England that evening.

A very Good Friday for Leinster

Much of the talk before the Magners League clash in April 2010 was of bars opening to serve alcohol around Limerick before the match. When the whistle was blown at the end, it was the Munster fans that required a stiff drink.

Ronan O’Gara kicked all of the home team’s 15 points but Leinster edged the contest by a point when Rob Kearney dived over in the corner and Jonny Sexton slotted over with 15 minutes on the clock.

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A tradition on the pitch and in the clubhouse bar

The Barbarians rugby side had the fine, upstanding tradition of starting off annual Easter tours of Welsh club sides with a Good Friday game against Penarth. Baa Baa’s greats over the years included Gareth Edwards, David Campese and Willie John McBride, who took part in such long-standing and fiercely contested get-togethers.

The fixture was ceased after 1986 but came back for the 100-year anniversary of the Barbarians in 2001.

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