When Leeds United went two mid-season months without a game, caught in the 'big freeze' with Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Rotherham United
In 2022, Premier League and Championship clubs knew for a long time their season would be on hold for six and four weeks respectively for the World Cup in Qatar.
But when Leeds lost 2-1 at Sunderland's Roker Park on December 22, 1962, there was no way they could have known it would be March 2, 1963 before they played again.
Sheffield United played twice in that time and First Division neighbours Wednesday squeezed in three away games as snow and ice wrecked the fixture list.
In Division Two, Huddersfield played once, at Grimsby Town, and Rotherham United three times, though probably wished they had not. They lost them all.
But Leeds got it worst, resulting in a fixture pile-up which made an already difficult season even harder. It only hardened Don Revie's side.
Their 1962-63 began with the return of the Gentle Giant, buying John Charles from Juventus for £53,000. Such was the excitement they even got away with raising ticket prices, but it only supported the theory you should never go back.
After just three goals in 11 games, Leeds at least made a £17,000 profit by selling Charles to Roma. Whilst Charles’ transfer request was eventually granted, an unsettled Billy Bremner’s was not when Revie warned: "If he goes, I go."
The Charles sale was important as later that month Leeds announced a £72,259 trading loss, stretching their overdraft to almost £70,000.
Still, the board allowed Revie to reinvest some of the money – £18,000 on Rotherham’s Don Weston, who scored a hat-trick on his debut but only added four more that season, £1,500 for winger Tommy Henderson and £7,000 on goalkeeper Brian Williamson.
At a time when clubs were far more dependent on gate receipts, losing two months to the weather was a disaster. Directors Harry Reynolds, Manny Cussins and Albert Morris loaned money to keep the club going, and the overdraft increased.
There was a footballing cost too, Leeds emerging from hibernation 13th in Division Two. The pent-up frustration saw them restart with a 3-1 win over Derby County.
Next came the club's first FA Cup run since 1952, completed in 13 days.
After 12 postponements, Leeds hosted Stoke City on a quagmire in round three on March 6. Bobby Collins scored first, to the delight of The Yorkshire Post's Eric Stanger.
"It was fitting," he wrote, "for Collins strode the battlefield like a pocket Napoleon, guiding his troops hither and thither with long passes to either wing or with shrewd lobs over the bogged-down Stoke defence."
After Paul Reaney doubled the lead, Stoke took the mud out of the equation with long balls, Keith Bebbington pulling a goal back. Grenville Hair, the only player who had won an FA Cup tie with Leeds, called his second career goal – "my gladdest moment in football."
The left-back added: "It was all compensation for those last 10 Cup years. There's been many a joke about them in the town, but it wasn't fun to be a player, I can tell you."
Goals from Jim Storrie and Albert Johanneson saw off Middlesbrough in round four to set up a game at Nottingham Forest three days later.
The First Division side out-thought Leeds, starving the forwards of service by keeping Collins under wraps and Johanneson out wide, to win 3-0.
Perhaps energised by the introduction of teenagers Reaney, Norman Hunter, Gary Sprake, Mick Addy, Barrie Wright, Jimmy Greenhoff and Peter Lorimer that season, the April 30 game at Chelsea was a top-of-the-table clash, with Leeds only four points and three places behind with two games in hand.
Despite drawing at Stamford Bridge Leeds ran out of steam, losing consecutive games to Middlesbrough, Huddersfield and Southampton to finish fifth but important foundations had been laid. They would go up as champions in 1964, followed by back-to-back second-places finishes in Division One.
The Terriers started their league campaign unbeaten in 13 games, but they too got caught in the cold.
They lost six of their 20 post-big freeze games – one more than in the 22 before – and suffered a 5-0 FA Cup defeat to eventual winners Manchester United with former striker Denis Law scoring a hat-trick.
The win over Leeds kept faint promotion hopes alive, but defeats to Portsmouth and Cardiff City saw them finish level on points with their West Yorkshire rivals.
Twelfth at Christmas, a winning streak which accounted for Liverpool, Manchester United, Leyton Orient, Bolton Wanderers and the Blades and only ended on the final day, saw Sheffield Wednesday finish sixth in Division One, just like the season before and the one after.
Across the City, United were a place above on Christmas Day, and nudged up another one in the final standings, to finish 10th.