The winter of 1962-3 was unique for Bolton Wanderers. They didn’t concede a point or a single goal – and never lost a match.
But they didn’t win any either. In fact they failed to play at all from December 8th to February 16th.
Bolton were frozen out – quite literally. And they weren’t the only ones.
The fierce winter played havoc with the sports programme as well as causing widespread disruption across the North West.
Manchester United were so desperate for a friendly that they flew to Ireland to take on fellow First Division Club Coventry City.
United manager Matt Busby and his counterpart Jimmy Hill swapped presents after the 2-2 draw played at Glenmalure Park, the home of Shamrock Rovers.
Both teams were grateful to be able to train away from the snow and ice that had gripped the mainland.
The winter, also known as the Big Freeze of 1963, was the coldest England had known since 1684. Lakes and rivers froze over – and even the sea turned to ice in some coastal areas.
Heavy snow fell over the Christmas period, particularly on Boxing Day, bringing the first blast of cold air that would linger until March.
A blizzard swept across England and Wales on December 29th and 30th, driven by gale force easterly winds. Snow drifts were 20 feet deep.
Roads and railways were blocked and planes were grounded. Towns and villages were cut off and left without electricity as powerlines were brought down.
Snow lay six inches deep in Manchester city centre and nine inches deep in Wythenshawe.
There was no let-up in January with an average temperature of -2.1C. The sea froze a mile out from shore in Kent and freezing fog swept the North West.
Three-foot icicles hung from roof gutters as temperature plummeted to -19.4C before more blizzards struck in February.
March 6th was the first morning of the year without any frost in Britain. The remaining snow finally started to disappear and sport caught up with a long backlog of fixtures.
The winter of 1959 brought its fair share of snow to Manchester too. But it provided the thrill of a lifetime for children from St Luke’s Primary School.
Each child had been saving threepence a week for the chance to enjoy a picnic in the snow – proper snow that hadn’t turned black in the soot and grime of the city centre.
They had a wonderful time sledging and snowballing as our picture proves – although they look grateful for the hot drinks handed round by teacher Miss Ethel Parkinson!
Manchester City played what many regard as the greatest game on ice when they trounced Tottenham 4-1 at Maine Road in December 1967.
City captain Tony Book remembered an old trick he’d learnt playing non-league football in icy conditions. It involved filing the leather off boot studs to expose the nail underneath.
The dodge worked a treat. ‘City moved like Olympic skaters while we looked like clowns on a skid patch,’ said one bemused Spurs player.
City’s confidence surged in the cold and they went on to win the league with 58 points – two points ahead of local rivals United.
More snow fell in January 1984 when City took on Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Our photo shows the players kicking up snow and ice jostling for the ball. No gloves though!
The Division Two clash ended in a 2-1 win for Blackburn. City just missed out on promotion finishing fourth with 70 points.
United striker Mark Hughes was almost covered in snow as he battled for the ball against Southampton at the Dell in March 1986.
The Red Devils lost the Division One match 0-1 and eventually finished fourth in the league under manager Ron Atkinson.
Finally, even Granada TV’s long-running soap Coronation Street has fallen victim to the wintry weather.
There were no problems in 1963 when the interior set kept the cast safe and warm, but filming had to be cancelled in March last year when heavy snow swept the outside set.
For once the fake snow traditionally applied to the Rovers Return was for real!