NEAR POST – CHRISTMAS PARTY HIGH-JINKS

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Where’s Barry?

Due to the ubiquity of camera phones and social media, plus the Press lying in wait to pap snap any footballer who even suggests being the worse for wear by shutting his eyes, football club Christmas parties are now quiet, sober affairs, if the parties take place at all.

They weren’t always like that though, with the “win or lose we’ll have some booze” culture of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and even the post-EPL 90s and 2000s, “throwing up” many examples of having too much Christmas spirit.

Whereas journalist’s knew which side their Christmas Pudding was brandy buttered on in the 60s and 70s and collaborated with football clubs to keep the worst player excesses out of the papers, come the 80s every tabloid journalist was looking for the next high-profile footballer faux pas and was willing and able to splash it across the front page quicker than a pissed-up player could splash sick on a bouncer’s shoes.

Here are some of the worst cases of Football Club Christmas party “high jinks”.

Foxe gets his tail out and makes a splash

It’s fair to say that flame-haired defender Hayden Foxe didn’t really make a huge impression on the pitch during his time in English football, but the Australian certainly entertained at the 2001 West Ham Christmas Party!

After running up a reported £2000 drinks bill in the VIP area of the Sugar Loaf club in London, Foxe thought he would liven up proceedings further by climbing on the bar and unleashing a killer dance routine, one that culminated in him pissing on the bar. Unsurprisingly, he and the rest of the Hammers party were asked to leave soon afterwards.

Scroogey Redknapp

Harry Redknapp quite cheerfully accepted accusations of being a Scrooge at Christmas when he was manager at Spurs. For Harry, Christmas and Christmas parties just didn’t exist, as he thinks alcohol is harmful for injured players, and he claimed that most of the Spurs players wouldn’t even be interested if a Christmas party was suggested anyway.

Redknapp is still scarred by the Tottenham secret Christmas bash in 2009, when he thought that the players were having a golf day. Instead, they splashed out £2,000 a man in a Dublin bar and nightclub!

Tottenham’s Giovani Dos Santos was also pap snapped being dragged into a taxi by bouncers after throwing up outside the Taman Gang Club in Marble Arch on the club’s 2008 Christmas do.

Last December, with Harry at QPR, he cancelled the Rangers’ planned Christmas party because they just didn’t deserve to have one due to performing so poorly. “I’m not a fan of Christmas parties and we’ve got nothing to celebrate,” he said.

Current QPR player Joey Barton also has previous involving Christmas parties, fancy dress and lit cigars, so his moratorium on parties is probably for the best.

Redknapp isn’t alone in this. Sir Alex Ferguson always reserved the right to ban Manchester United’s festivities at the eleventh hour, because of the events of the infamous 2007 Manchester United Christmas Party. A 15-hour drinking marathon culminated in orgies at a Manchester hotel and allegations of rape were made, although no charges were ever brought.

However, Andre Villas-Boas is the anti-Scrooge, as he said that Tottenham’s players should have had two or even three nights out!

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Copping a feel at the Christmas Party

In December 2012, West Ham’s Andy Carroll was accused of assaulting a photographer on the club’s festive jaunt to Dublin.

The not very Christmassy Carroll had been accused of gouging and attempting to bite Paddy Cummins, as he photographed the player leaving a Dublin nightclub.

Carroll’s team-mates all vouched for him when he was questioned by club officials about the incident, however. The players insisted that the striker was provoked, and that he wasn’t aggressive towards the photographer.

Celtic try to keep it low-key

Celtic thought that they could keep things low-key and avoid bad press by having their Christmas party in another city at the Sizzlers steakhouse in Glasgow, but the evening climaxed with Neil Lennon passing out on the pavement and smashing his head on the kerb on the way down.

In 2002, they could get away with more if they left Glasgow so went to Newcastle instead, in what a spokeswoman confirmed was “an effort to avoid attention”. However, the party of well-oiled Bhoys washed-up at the glamorous-sounding Buffalo Joe’s American themed bar in Gateshead, only to be met by a gaggle of waiting photographers. One ‘incident’ later, and four of them – Neil Lennon, Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren – were spending the rest of the night in police cells.

Babes in the hood

David O’Leary’s team of ‘babes’ were less than angelic on and off the pitch.

December 2001 saw a Wild West-themed fancy dress pub crawl for the Christmas Party, involving 10 solid hours of banter and boozing. What could go possibly wrong? Everything, which is why the club appointed five security guards to follow the 30 or so players around the city of Leeds in an attempt to babysit the young starlets and prevent trouble.

Despite being chaperoned, Robbie Fowler still managed to wind up in the Millgarth police cells after an altercation with photographer Ben Lack ended up in Lack’s camera being hurled to the unforgiving concrete of a garage forecourt.

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I’m the Stig

Former cult player for my team Bolton Wanderers, midfielder Stig Tofting, had his AGF Arhus career quickly curtailed after he punched out four team-mates at the team’s Christmas party. Why? Because they’d torn Tofting’s shirt.

Stig looked more like a Rugby League player than a footballer, so I assume that some “Dutch courage” had been partaken of when they decided to mess with his attire.

Roy Carroll at Christmas

Another Christmas Carroll – Roy this time – as he and Ryan Giggs had to be forcibly separated after the pair was seen going “nose to nose and swearing at each other”. A bystander was quoted as saying:

“It was all pretty nasty but they didn’t actually come to blows. I think drink had played its part.”

One not-so Wise man and an ignoble Savage

Invite Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage to a party and you’re asking for trouble.

The atmosphere at Leicester’s 2001 Christmas bash took a scatological and violent turn for the worse when Wise gave Savage a teddy bear impaled on a dildo and reportedly told him:

“Take this, because you’re the only prick in a Leicester shirt at the moment.”

Savage retaliated by smearing chocolate on Wise’s face and mocking his relationship with old Wimbledon pal Dave Bassett.

Violence ensued.

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