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The Top 10 footballing ghosts

From Anne Boleyn at Upton Park to the gypsy responsible for all the Gills’ woes, there’s no escaping these spooky spirits of football yore

1. Footsteps in the dark at Highbury

Arsenal’s old home, Highbury, was home to two spooks. One was the spectre of a horse that died during the North Bank's construction and neighed at games.
The second was legendary gaffer Herbert Chapman, whose footsteps could be heard pacing the corridors.
It still appeals to paranormal sleuths: a Ouija board session conducted by radio station Resonance FM at the ground - now flats - claimed to contact numerous dead fans. And even they could see the need for a gritty midfielder, Arsene.

the-ship

2. Pool's angry admiral

Lord Nelson is said to haunt Bloomfield Road’s boardroom, thanks to it being constructed from wood taken from his ship, HMS Foudroyant. “Sailing folk take exception to anything on their ships being touched,” explained Blackpool’s stadium manager John Turner in 1996 after a series of peculiar events, including alarms being mysteriously set off. “My labrador Stella only has to enter the room and she starts howling.” Quite literally barking.


3. Fred's icy comeback

Veteran fans at Boundary Park, home of Oldham, swear the presence of a Latics loyalist named Fred, who died in the '60s, can still be sensed on the terraces. It may be a poltergeist sending a chill up the spine, or maybe it’s the fact that, being located 155m above sea level in Lancashire, the ground is the coldest in the Football League and nicknamed Ice Station Zebra. Either way, wear a scarf.

mad-player4. Monky business at Bisham Abbey

Wondering why England are rubbish? Perhaps the fact that Bisham Abbey, used by the Three Lions for get- togethers, was once cursed by monks and is “the most haunted house in Berkshire” has something to do with it? In the 16th century Lady Elizabeth Roby locked her son in a room then forgot about him, leading to his death. Her ghost now slips out of a portrait in the Great Hall and stalks the manor sorrowfully, trying to wash blood from her hands. Enough to drive any England boss doolally and call up Carlton Palmer.

5. Carlos' phantom tale

You’ve got to think quickly when you’re running naked through Peru and the cops appear - and Inti Gas midfielder Carlos Flores did just that when he was nicked for a butt-naked dash through Ayacucho in December 2009. Flores claimed he was “being chased by a ghost,” but later admitted that he’d been “engaging with dirty ladies”. Flores, who had problems with cocaine, added: “I didn't want my wife to be suspicious, but she didn’t believe me.” Funny, that.

6. Anne the Hammer

Anne Boleyn’s ghost is a restless soul: her headless apparition has been seen at the Tower of London, Blickling Hall in Norfolk and Hever Castle in Kent. Henry VIII’s troublesome second missus was also said to appear before West Ham games in the '70s - and if she did, they were nailed on to win the next day. The Boleyn Ground, so named because Anne once lived nearby, is also haunted by one of her maids, who died in childbirth.

7. Kansas' jovial jock

Kansas State University’s Memorial Stadium is used for soccer and American football, but talk to any local and they’ll inform you of resident apparition Nick. The spirit of a young athlete who died on the track in the ’50s, he’s dedicated his afterlife to causing mayhem around campus, such as hiding theatrical props and setting off levitating fire extinguishers. Students, eh?

8. Gillingham's gypsy

An unnamed presence has menaced Priestfield Stadium in Gillingham since the ’40s, when a club employee’s car ran over a gypsy girl Paranoia reached such levels that a priest was brought in to exorcise the demon in 1992 - resulting in three straight home wins. Gills fans are still happy to blame the paranormal whenever the side play badly. Which is a lot.

9. Tragedy of Thomson

One of Celtic Park’s saddest tales was the death of goalie John Thomson in 1931, who accidentally collided with Rangers forward Sam English during an Old Firm game and died later that evening. Just 5ft 9in but incredibly agile, Thomson’s memory lives on through a haunting Bhoys song, still sung to this day: “Between your posts/There stands a ghost/ Johnny Thomson is his name.”

10. Spirit of Stafford

In 1964, students from the Stafford University of Technology won money on the football pools with the help of a spirit guide called George.
The group used their Ouija-summoned pal to predict Division One results. After scooping £30 and £2 on consecutive weeks, they attracted press attention - upon which George mysteriously withdrew his tips. "After that, the only spirits we used were in the pub,’’ grumbled group member Steve Dodgeon. Should have got yourself an octopus, mate.

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