(Clockwise from left): A snake catcher at Blacktown, the MCG scoreboard fire, a storm at the Sydney Derby and lights out at the Gabba. Pictures: AFL Photos

FROM snakes and storms to unexpected fires, football matches have been interrupted for all sorts of unusual reasons in the AFL over recent times.

Sydney's AAMI Community Series clash against Brisbane was delayed on Thursday night after a power outage at Blacktown, with a snake then also needing to be removed from the playing surface.


It was just the latest of a series of weird reasons games have been interrupted.

Check out some of the best below.

'The scoreboard is on fire'

In one of the most famous incidents, the scoreboard at the MCG caught fire before Richmond's clash against Carlton in round 22, 1999. Flames 20 metres high engulfed the scoreboard, forcing fans out of the stands, with the blaze destroying 20 per cent of the scoreboard in remarkable scenes.


Lights out at the Gabba

It was a wild Friday night in Brisbane when the Lions met Melbourne in round two last year. With the Lions surging towards victory and holding a 40-point advantage midway through the final quarter, power to the whole stadium was cut, pitching the players into darkness and the stadium into chaos. When they returned 38 minutes later to play the match out, the tide completely turned with Melbourne kicking five unanswered goals to give the hosts a scare, but it wasn't enough as Brisbane held on to win by 11 points.


The Waverley blackout

In one of the most bizarre nights, Waverley Park was plunged into darkness during St Kilda's clash against Essendon in round 10, 1996. Late in the third quarter, the lights went out, and the contest descended into anarchy. Fans jumped the fence and ran onto the oval, fires were lit on the ground and in seating areas and point posts were ripped out. The clubs returned on Tuesday to complete the game, with Bombers star James Hird a controversial late inclusion after missing the game on Saturday due to a broken finger. Essendon won by 22 points.


Lightning brings Sydney Derby to a halt

Debris had to be cleared from the what is now Giants Stadium surface and play was delayed by 25 minutes after lightning struck the ground in an action-packed start to Greater Western Sydney's match against the Swans in round one, 2014. Following some intense lightning and thunder from midway through the opening term, the heavens then opened and torrential rain fell. The two teams made it through to quarter-time, with the Swans leading by 13 points in Lance Franklin's club debut, before the decision was made to keep the teams in the changerooms until the storm had cleared. The Giants ended up winning by 32 points.


'Divine intervention' sparks Eagles' surge

Melbourne survived a lightning break and a late West Coast charge at a wild Optus Stadium in round 21, 2021, rising to the top of the ladder with a nine-point win that locked in the club's first finals double chance in more than 20 years. On a bizarre night that saw play halted for 29 minutes in the final term because of severe weather, the Demons conceded the last four goals of the game to nearly squander a match they had in their control. They held on against a rampaging and desperate Eagles team to win 10.12 (72) to 9.9 (63) and secure their highest ladder finish at the end of a home and away season since 2000, when they placed third and went on to make the Grand Final. The ladder leaders had appeared to be cruising to victory when play was halted six minutes into the final term because of approaching severe weather, with both teams retreating to their changerooms for almost 30 minutes. The Eagles then emerged a different team, booting four goals in a 19-minute run that cut a 33-point margin down to nine points with just under 90 seconds to play. Adam Simpson hoped the lightning break proved to be the "divine intervention" that sparked his team's faltering season, but the Eagles missed the finals that year.


Snake in the grass

Greater Western Sydney's AFLW clash against Richmond in September last year was delayed after a snake was spotted on the ground at Blacktown International Sportspark. The round three encounter started at 1.35pm AEST, a delay of 30 minutes, after the red-bellied black snake located by a snake catcher.

Curse of the Lions? Power outage, snake halt game

A power outage delayed the start of Thursday night's AAMI Community Series contest between Sydney and Brisbane in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Lions' match against Melbourne at the Gabba last year. Players from both teams had completed their warm-ups and with just minutes before the scheduled opening bounce at 7.10pm AEDT, all the floodlights surrounding Blacktown International Sportspark went out. Players immediately retreated to their respective dressing rooms while they waited for the power to return, while officials from both clubs looked bemusedly skyward. The lights eventually came back on and play got underway at 7.40pm AEDT, 30 minutes behind schedule. The light failure wasn't the only bit of drama before Thursday night's game, with a baby red-bellied black snake needing to be removed from the playing surface by a snake catcher.


False alarm triggers evacuation

A false and evacuation order triggered by a small fire in a food outlet caused dramatic scenes during the Collingwood-Adelaide clash at the MCG in March 2022. Less than one minute into the second quarter, a message was played over the stadium's loudspeakers instructing all patrons to immediately leave the venue. Umpires stopped the match and players gathered in team huddles in the middle of the ground as confused fans began heading for the exits. A few minutes later, a second message was played to clarify it was a false alarm.


Massive downpour causes delay

The 2014 pre-season match between the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda had a delayed start after a massive downpour that flooded GMHBA Stadium. Geelong received 50mm of rain in an hour just before 6pm AEDT which flooded the ground and the stadium. However, the playing surface cleared up significantly and after officials pushed remaining water to the boundary line, the match started at 7.40pm AEDT, 30 minutes behind schedule. The delay was due to the Bulldogs' rooms being flooded, rather than the state of the ground.