The Art of Coarse Football

Fireworks, red card and a sneaky sub turn Hearts friendly into farce

• Dinamo fans ejected from Hearts friendly in Lancashire
• Visiting captain refuses to walk after red card

Dinamo Bucharest fans

Dinamo Bucharest fans throw fireworks onto the pitch in the friendly against Hearts. Photograph: YouTube

At first glance, a Sunday afternoon pre-season meeting of Heart of Midlothian and Dinamo Bucharest in the Lancashire village of Leigh is not worthy of much attention. It certainly was not notable enough to draw a crowd of more than 300.

Yet this was to prove a bizarre precursor to the domestic season, largely owing to the antics of the Romanian team and a handful of their supporters. An exorbitant £10 entry fee was more than returned in drama.

The element of farce surrounding the fixture began before a ball was kicked. The venue was switched a few hundred yards – and kick-off moved back half an hour – because of a rutted pitch at Leigh Harriers’ athletics ground. Shot put damage was cited.

Dinamo Bucharest fans throw fireworks onto the pitchAt half-time, half a dozen vociferous Dinamo supporters – who had earlier unfurled banners – were removed from the Leigh Sports Village by stewards after a beer can and fire crackers were thrown on to the pitch. They watched the remainder of the friendly through the perimeter fence, which they sporadically attempted to scale. No police officers appeared at the venue.

Hearts’ Scott Robinson had departed the scene in an ambulance with a suspected broken leg, which was later discovered not to be so serious, before moments of high farce early in the second period.

After a corner was awarded to the Edinburgh side, Dinamo’s captain Laurentiu Rus reacted with such fury that he ran at full pace for 15 yards and pushed the referee. A red card followed; as did the Dinamo player’s blunt refusal to leave the field.

When he did, Dinamo simply threw on an extra player to return the match to its original 11 v 11 format, without the referee noticing. After several minutes of confusion regarding which player had snuck on and consultation between the match officials and the respective management teams, Dimano’s No35 was ordered back to the dugout.

“We were happy for them to put someone else on but the ref wasn’t happy,” said the Hearts’ head coach Robbie Neilson.

A glance back to recent history shows Dinamo have previous for wayward behaviour in a friendly game. Their discipline clearly has not improved much during the intervening two years.

Hearts, who led 2-1 at the interval, won the encounter by the same score. They will have quieter afternoons during the months ahead.