After three different pitch inspections in monsoon conditions, this qualifier in Warsaw was finally postponed
OK, that's all from me for this evening. Thanks for your time and your emails and hopefully I'll see you here tomorr ... actually, I won't, because I'm not due in. Well, somebody else will definitely be here to guide you through the afternoon's play, which is unlikely to be as exciting as this live blog of some men talking about weather.
The match will be played tomorrow afternoon at 4pm (UK time). Hats off to everyone involved in that decision, for making it so quickly. I thought it would take hours.
THE GAME IS OFF! POLAND v ENGLAND WILL NOT BE PLAYED TONIGHT!
"You can write off tonight's fixture," says Gabriel Clarke, saying that the delay is being caused by various men in blazers arguing over whether it will be rescheduled for tomorrow night, a date in November or some other time. "At the moment I think England are fairly confident that the game can be played tomorrow," he adds.
This is great: "My husband has explained the joke to me," writes Lyndsey from Morocco. "No offence taken." No announcement yet about this godforsaken match. Apparently England are happy to play it tomorrow, but Poland aren't.
This is splendid! The ref is back out, kicking a ball around, as if he expects the pitch to be in better nick after another 45 minutes rain than it was when he last tried. Oh to be in a bar in Morocco watching Spain against France with Lyndsey and her husband. It's 20 degrees in Marrakech today.
Some pre-announcement padding: "I'm indoors with the wife but we're not watching GBBO, she's whacked a recorded episode of True Blood on," writes James Barnes. "I'm keeping up to date with you, Barry. I kind of hope it does get played tonight, it might show UEFA up a bit and cause a bit of trouble for those in charge."
"I've gone to the pub to watch this as the other half was watching the great British bake off," writes Alec Cochrane. "Now I'll have to keep up the charade of a game having taken place to explain why I stayed here all night drinking."
"A few years back I played in a game where the referee had travelled so far that despite the fact that you could see the ongoing torrential rainfall streaming across the sloping pitch, there was no way he was letting the match not go ahead," writes Steve Gaw. "With passes going about two feet, balls falling out of the sky and stopping dead in puddles and everyone sopped in mud the whole affair was like taking part in an extreme washing detergent commercial. It also ended nil-nil. If this game takes place I am tempted to run home and watch it rather than have to imagine those 20 yard sliding tackes."
A Fantasy Football cheat and chutney maker writes: "My wife wants to watch Adrian Chiles et al but I'm clinging on to the Baking stuff," writes stand-up comedy's Ian Moore, whose amusing blog you can read here. "Out of interest has Ray Winstone been on to shout the odds on whether there'll be play or not?"
Rain update: I probably should have put a 'smiley face' or *smug Jimmy Carr face* emoticon after that comment to point out to the humourless and desperate to be offended that I was just joking with Lyndsey, shouldn't I? It's a sad state of affairs when you've reached a point that such a thought even crosses your mind.
Anyway, England's players have changed back into their tracksuits, trainers and preposterously over-sized headphones. Poland's, apparently, are still wandering around in their kit, desperately hopeful of playing a match.
A chippy email: "Hello, I'm disappointed by your reference to the Great British Bake Off and wives and girlfriends," writes Lyndsey. "I normally have to reserve these sorts of emails for ITV coverage but wouldn't expect that sort of lazy sexism from the Guardian. I'm following on my husband's phone from Morocco as the only bar we can find is showing France v Spain and that sort of generalist comment is just a bit disappointing."
Using your husband's phone to complain about what you perceive to be lazy sexism, Lyndsey? While it was very nice of him to let you borrow it, I think it would be kinder still if he let you have one of your own.
GOAL! Faroe Islands 1-2 Republic of Ireland (Hansen 68) Oh sweet baby Jesus and the angels. "It was the best move of the match too," says Paul Doyle. Follow his minute-by-minute report of Belgium v Scotland, the match he's supposed to be watching.
In defence of the Polish media officer: "I assume that the confusion in what she said is simply because of the language barrier," writes John Barry. "They probably expected there to be rain for the night, but not a downpour like they have gotten, which has flooded the pitch. One of the games at the Euros looked like it was going to be washed out, with thunder too, to make it more dramatic, but they managed to get the game on. So you never know."
You might be right, but the pitch is currently waterlogged, the rain is torrential, the roof of the stadium is not closed and there's nobody working on the pitch to try and drain it. How can they get a game on?
Adrian Bevington is refusing to play ball here: The FA communications director looks furious, but is refusing to cut loose and rip into Fifa and the Polish FA, which would at least provide some much-needed entertainment and give the increasingly desperate Adrian Chiles, Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate a much-needed controversy to talk about.
Down in the tunnel, it must be said, ITV's touchline prowler Gabriel Clarke is playing a blinder, asking the hard questions, ferreting around looking for information and fielding Adrian Chiles's relentless line of childish questioning about the stadium roof with a breezy bonhomie he almost certainly isn't feeling.
Conflicting reports coming from Warsaw: Some journalists in the stadium are reporting that there'll be another pitch inspection in 30 minutes, while others are saying the match is definitely off. I can't stress enough that there is zero chance of a football match being played on this pitch tonight. If you're reading this because your wife or girlfriend wanted to watch the Great British Bake-Off, don't hold a grudge.
The Mirror's Oliver Holt tweets: "Confusion in tunnel," he says. "England look worried ref will somehow try and play this. Feel bad for fans but total madness if he does."
One point of interest: I presumed I'd misheard her, but it seems I didn't. The Polish media officer who spoke earlier said "we were expecting heavy rain, but not expecting a downpour." Eh?
This is farcical: Fifa have told the gents in the press room that they will try to get this game on in the next 45 minutes to an hour. There isn't a snowball's chance in hell of this match being played - it's still lashing rain, one of the penalty areas is completely flooded and there's nobody making any effort to drain the pitch.
Do they want a riot? Presumably as a gag, the stadium PA man or woman is playing U2's Beautiful Day.
Not long now: The referee walks off the pitch, ignoring roy Hodgson as he does so. He marches down the tunnel and through a door. Hodgson, FA blazer Adrian Bevington and assorted others follow him. I'm not sure about you, but I can't contain my excitement.
Pitch inspection: The roof remains open, the rain is still lashing down and the referee has come out to throw a ball around, to see if it will bounce or roll. Why? It's quite obviously way worse now than the last time he checked. Every time he throws the ball and it splats into a puddle before stopping dead, he gets a hug round of applause from the crowd. "He's a clown," says ITV pundit Roy Keane, who points out that he was late coming out to check the pitch in the first place.
The Polish media officer speaks: She says they'll have a pitch inspection at 9pm (8pm our time) and decide whether or not to delay kick-off for an hour, to play it tomorrow or to play it some other time. She also says that the reason there's nobody out working on the pitch is because they have under-soil heating which can dry the pitch in half an hour, if required. Impressive, eh? Sadly, it seems that miracle-drier only works when the roof is shut and they can't shut the roof because there's too much rain. Ah, football. As toxic as you can be, I can never stay mad at you for long.
Umbrella watch: After all the of 'Wally with the brolly' Steve McClaren got from the media, it's amusing to see that nobody from the England backroom team has had the nerve to put up an umbrella to shelter them from the rain that's pouring down from the Warsaw sky. We'll know in five minutes whether or not the match will be played.
This from The Telegraph's Henry Winter in the Stadium: "Dave Watson #eng gk coach in penalty area, kicking puddles," he tweets. "Miracle if this goes ahead tonight. Too much surface water."
You can't blame the Polish FA for this: They couldn't possibly have been expected to see this one coming.
Roof news: As I mentioned previously, there is a retractable roof over the National Stadium in Warsaw. Apparently it can't be closed because - and I'm not making this up - "the rain is too heavy" for them to do so. Considering the torrential nature of the rain, the fact that not a single groundsman is out on the pitch drying to drain it and the audible whistling and jeering of the fans, I suspect there is no chance whatsoever of this match being played tonight. We'll know for definite in 15 minutes.
This from Dominic Fifield: "Roy Hodgson wading out into one of the penalty areas," tweets our man at National Stadium. "He just kicked a ball along the ground as hard as he could. It went about four yards."
According to Uefa rules: If the match doesn't go ahead in the National Stadium in Warsaw tonight, and I have to say it looks very, very unlikely, there's talk on ITV that it might be played tomorrow instead. THat ought to come as great news to all the England fans who are due to return home this evening or tomorrow morning.
It's lashing rain, the pitch is waterlogged in Warsaw, the roof of the stadium hasn't been closed and there aren't even a few fellows out there prodding the grass with forks. There'll be an announcement made at 8pm.
England's U-21s were pelted after Connor Wickham struck in injury time of the second leg of their Euro 2013 play-off to book a berth in next summer's finals in Israel.
Supporters encroached on the field, a brawl broke out and England's Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle. He reacted angrily by kicking away the ball and then reacted to fans making monkey noises as he left the pitch.
An enraged Steve Wigley, one of the England coaching staff, was also caught up in the trouble and had to be restrained after after being punched at least once in the face.
In a state of affairs that is bound to delight their many detractors, the England brass band will be absent for only the second time in 20 years after they were refused entry to tonight's World Cup qualifier.
Band members had their instruments impounded as they tried to enter the National Stadium. It repeats an unhappy experience at the opening game of Euro 2012 in Donetsk, when the band were also only allowed into the stadium once they had relinquished their instruments.
It is believed stadium authorities took tonight's decision because the Polish FA have refused to sanction a Polish band, and would be open to accusations of double standards if they allowed their English counterparts in.
"It is very frustrating," said band leader John Hemmingham. "We have travelled tens of thousands of miles following England and were looking forward to banging the drum for the Three Lions once more. It is massively disappointing to get such a bum note."
The time for talking is over: Well, nearly over. At the time of writing there's just under an hour left for talking. And there's been lots of talk. England midfielder Steven Gerrard has been talking about Patrick Vieria, while Poland captain Marcin Wasilewski been talking about how great Wayne Rooney is. Meanwhile on yesterday's episode of our Football Weekly podcast, James Richardson, myself and others managed to mug our way through 40 minutes or so of nonsense, despite having very little to talk about.
England team: Hart; Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Carrick, Cleverley; Rooney, Defoe.
Team news: Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson look likely to return to the England line-up after their spell out on the naughty step, while James Milner, Jermain Defoe and Joleon Lescott are also tipped to start after being rested against San Marino because they were each just one booking away from suspensions of their own. Theo Walcott (rib) misses out courtesy of that brutal challenge by San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini, while neither Chelsea pair Frank Lampard (calf) nor Ryan Bertrand (virus) boarded the plane to Warsaw.
As well as his skipper Jakub Blasczczykowski (ankle), Waldemar Fornalik will have to make do without Wojciech Szczesny (foot) and Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder), which means PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton. Central midfielder Eugen Polanski could also miss out, having left the squad prior to Friday's friendly win over South Africa for unspecified personal reasons.
Preview: Fifth in the international rankings take on 54th, but don't be gulled by the Fifa charts - both positions are laughable. As co-hosts, Poland went two years in the build-up to Euro 2012 without playing a competitive match, while often ponderous England would seem to be fortuitous in the extreme to be above teams such as the Netherlands, Uruguay and Italy. And France. And Brazil. While Poland, although no world-beaters, are surely better than Libya and the Cape Verde Islands.
Nevertheless, Roy Hodgson's side will be fairly hopeful of taking all three points from their hosts in Warsaw tonight, but would almost certainly leave reasonably satisfied with just one. This is England's first major test en route to the World Cup finals in Brazil the summer after next and their fans may learn much tonight from a team comprising grizzled veterans, former fringe players newly elevated to senior status and several wet-behind-the-ears international newbies.
With this being Hodgson's 11th match in charge of England, it's small wonder he concedes they're far from the finished article. "We're trying to get there," he told reporters in Warsaw yesterday. "We're on our way. Since the Euros, the Italy game was quite positive, Moldova was a good performance."
Poland are also a team in transition. Waldemar Fornalik has replaced Franciszek Smuda after an underwhelming Euro 2012 campaign in which the co-hosts drew two and lost one of their matches to finish bottom of Group A.
Indeed, arguably the most significant chapter of their summer endeavours involved team captain Jakub Błaszczykowski proving as selfish off the field as he occasionally does on it, by inappropriately blaming their exit in part on his inability to relax before the final group game. The reason for his restlessness and ennui? Not being furnished with enough free tickets to satisfy demand for his nearest and dearest by the Polish FA. Błaszczykowski kith and kin won't need to worry about not seeing him tonight, as the Borussia Dortmund winger misses out through injury.
Anderlecht defender Marcin Wasilewsk will take over the armband for the Poles this evening and in his pre-match press conference, suggested this is exactly the kind of test his country requires to chart their position on the lie of the land.
"Such a match against quality opposition is needed," he said. "It is similar to a game we had against Portugal a few years ago. Everyone thought we would lose but we won, and it gave us the spur we needed to go on and qualify for the European Championship."