As the famous phrase goes: they think it’s all over… but it’s not yet, because the referee is scrabbling around on the floor searching for his false teeth.
A match is not over until the referee blows the final whistle. And that can be a problem when the referee is not still in possession of his original teeth – just ask anyone connected with Danish side Ebeltoft who was around in April 1960.
Referees need authority to do their job. They need to command respect from the players to make sure the game flows properly without descending into chaos. It’s presumably difficult to earn such respect when you’ve accidentally spat out your dentures while performing the most basic of tasks.
Imagine the scene. It’s Norager against Ebeltoft. Norager are leading 4-3 and there are just moments left in the match. The win appears assured when referee Henning Erikstrup puts his whistle to his lips. But then disaster strikes.
Erikstrup does not create much of a sound from his whistle because his teeth have flown out of his mouth and onto the turf. The Ebeltoft players weren’t to know so continued on their merry way towards the opponents’ goal.
Ebeltoft bag a last-gasp equaliser to make it 4-4. Wild celebrations follow. A well earned draw is theirs. Except it was all going to be taken away from them.
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Seemingly not embarrassed by his misfortune, Erikstrup brought further attention to his mishap by insisting that Ebeltoft’s goal didn't count, because he had intended to blow the final whistle beforehand. Norager were awarded a 4-3 win to much controversy.
Understandably miffed, Ebeltoft protested against the result. They took their case to the Danish Football Association to make sure their case was heard. But the Danish FA stuck by their dentally-challenged official, meaning Norager kept their extremely fortuitous win.
It seems that, instead of a fat lady singing, Danish football matches are not over until the referee in charge has his dentures firmly secured in his mouth.
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