Watch hapless parachutist miss the pitch

VIDEO It was perhaps the strangest reason ever for a football match to be held up - an Army parachutist stuck on a roof.

Jonathan Barnes

IT was perhaps the strangest reason ever for a football match to be held up.

Ipswich Town's game at Burnley on Saturday started about 50 minutes late after an Army parachutist, due to land on the pitch, missed his target and landed on the top of a stand at the Turf Moor stadium.

Seven members of the Parachute Regiment's elite Red Devils display team performed the routine before the game.

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But while six made the drop successfully, a gust of wind caused one to miss and landed on the roof of the Cricket Field Stand, where the Ipswich fans were sitting.

He was unhurt, aside from a few cuts and bruises after his foot broke a section of the stand roof, but had no way of getting down.

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Stadium bosses decided to delay the game until he was rescued - but it took longer than anyone could have thought.

Firefighters had difficulty getting access to the stand because their way was blocked by cars parked near the stadium - and also had problems finding a ladder long enough to reach him on his 70ft perch.

Eventually the game got under way after fire crews said the Para was not in any danger - and it was 35 minutes into the match before he was finally brought down.

Burnley fire crew manager Roy Edwards said: "The hold-up was because we had to find people from the ground who had left their cars on the cricket field area so we could get up with the aerial ladder platform to bring him down."

But the parachutist apparently didn't make the most of his bird's eye view of the football - fans said he appeared to be watching the cricket on the adjoining pitch.

The serviceman, known only as Ben, was checked over by medical staff when he came down, but turned down the offer of a hospital check-up.

Officials at the ground said the parachutist had been caught out by a freak gust of wind as he came into land, but no one from the Red Devils team was available to comment on the incident.

Ipswich finally won the game 3-0, finishing almost an hour later than the rest of the day's games.

Derek Davis, the EADT's football correspondent, said: “I've seen matches delayed for all kinds of reasons in my time, but this is a first.

“It was a bit blustery but they must have known what the conditions were - and the other six managed to land safely although only one got into the centre circle. We all reckon he'll be off the team and back with the normal regiment now.”

See the video of the parachutist's unlucky landing

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