Samuel (Sam) Bartman was Charlton Athletic’s goalkeeper for 22 years, and he featured in every game until 1956 when he retired. Sam played 623 games for Charlton Athletic… Charlton Athletic relied on Sam so much that, at one the games against Newcastle United in the semi-final in 1947, Sam played while suffering from food poisoning. The medical team had to put a poultice on his stomach to subdue the pain.
Bartman is popular for taking part in the game against Chelsea on Christmas day at Stamford Bridge in 1937. That game was played in cold weather, with some fog building up before the game.
By the time the game started the fog had built up considerably at the stadium. It is reported that the fog began to thicken rapidly at the far end, travelling past Chelsea’s goalkeeper (Vic Woodley) and moving toward Sam’s goalposts. This fog was so thick that it became difficult for Sam to see past the centerline. Due to the wind and the noise from fans, Sam could hardly hear the shouting from his fellow players and coach as well as the whistle from the referee.
Due to the poor visibility, the referee stopped the game, few minutes from the start time, and restarted it after the fog cleared slightly, however he stopped the game again and according to Sam’s autobiography the game went silent but Sam remained at his post, peering into the thickening fog from the edge of the penalty area. And he wondered why the play was not coming his way.
At this time, it is suspect that Sam believed that Charlton Athletic was busy scoring against Chelsea especially since they were already ahead by the time the referee restarted the game. After standing in the goal post for approximately 15 minutes, where he was busy running from one corner of his 18-area box to another. In his autobiography, he said a figure appeared from the thick fog… where he really thought finally action is coming towards him, only to realize that the person coming towards him is actually a police officer.
The Police office shouted to Sam, “What on earth are you doing here?” he gasped. “The game was stopped a quarter of an hour ago. The stadium’s completely empty”. Sam was very surprised that the whole game ended, and no one came to fetch him or inform him that the game was over.