When Footballers’ Xmas Parties Go Wrong - Feat. Celtic, Chelsea & Man Utd

Footballers behaving badly.
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Footballers behaving badly.

A Christmas party is a great way for a football team to bond with each other before the busy festive fixture period, but all that good cheer can be undone with just one unsavoury incident that hits the headlines.

The days of a football club Christmas party consisting of a few pints of bitter and cheese and pineapple cocktail sticks are long gone. Money is now no object for the modern footballer Yuletide bash and with the press and wannabe-WAGs swarming around the players like flies round brandy butter, it's no surprise that things can get flammable.

Here are some of the worst/best examples of footballers behaving badly at Christmas time.

7. Chelsea

If Vinnie Jones is selected as your Christmas party planner then you know that it's unlikely to be a sophisticated soiree with interesting canapés.

When the Smokin' Aces 2: Assasins' Ball star was put in charge of the Chelsea Christmas bash in 1994, he organised a lock-in at a West London pub. It might all sound pretty traditional but this was a drinking session with a difference, because when it came to the party games, Jones didn't have pool or darts in mind.

Instead the Chelsea players indulged in some dwarf tossing. "The idea was to pick up a dwarf and hurl him as far as you could," said the former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino. "I had a go, but I can't remember how I did. They were heavier than I expected."

6. Celtic

The 2001 Celtic Christmas party resulted in the future club manager Neil Lennon, giving an accidental Glasgow kiss to the pavement after celebrating a little too hard.

The following year Celtic decided to get out of the glare of the Glasgow paparazzi and very wisely decided that Newcastle and it’s Bigg Market would be the perfect location for the sedate atmosphere they craved.

Unfortunately before the night was through Lennon was arrested, along with Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren, as the police investigated the theft of a press photographer's camera. Lennon was swiftly released, but the other three Celtic stars spent the night behind bars.

5. West Ham

The Hammers' cockney knees up got a bit out of hand in 1998, when Trevor Sinclair and Neil Ruddock were arrested for damaging a Mini that was being driven by a 19-year old beauty therapist.

So it was no wonder hat the then West Ham manager Glenn Roeder sent his team out with a group of minders for their Christmas party in 2001 and even went to the trouble of alerting the police about the event, in an effort to curb his players' mischief.

Yet Roeder's efforts didn't stop Hayden Foxe urinating on the bar of the VIP area of the Sugar Reef club in London, in an incident which gave a new meaning to the often-used phrase, 'West Ham's leaky defence'.

4. Leicester City

There is only ever room for one nasty little git at any football Christmas party, so Leicester City were asking for trouble in 2002 when they had both Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage in attendance.

Wise proved once again that his surname in no way described his character, when he decided to give Savage a Christmas present of a teddy bear wearing a Leicester shirt, impaled on a sex toy. Wise was reported to have presented the gift with the words: "Take this, because you're the only prick in a Leicester shirt at the moment."

Savage responded with all the maturity that we've come to expect from him, as he smeared chocolate on Wise's street urchin face, prompting little Dennis to make some crude sexual remarks about Savage's then girlfriend. At that point the Wildean witticisms were put to one side, as the pair sorted things out with some good old-fashioned fisticuffs.

3. Liverpool

The Liverpool fancy dress party is as much a part of Christmas tradition as Cliff Richard releasing awful singles and being force-fed brussels sprouts.

Sometimes the costumes have crossed the border into the area of bad taste, such as the occasion when Robbie Fowler dressed up as Saddam Hussein at a time when the Iraqi dictator was awaiting execution.

Worse still was when David 'Buggsy' Burrows thought that it would be a great laugh to attend the party as an SS officer. This would clearly be insensitive in any context, but was made worse for the fact that the Liverpool squad at the time contained the Israeli international Ronny Rosenthal.

At least Steve McMahon showed some sense when he expressed horror as a mystery guest turned up at Liverpool's shindig dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume. "You can't come in like that," said McMahon, "John Barnes is in there." The visitor whipped off his hood and said: "No, he's in here". As jokes by John Barnes go, it was almost as funny as his managerial career.

2. Manchester City 

Joey Barton had more to celebrate than most during the Christmas of 2004, as he had just signed a new £27,000 a week contract with Manchester City.

At the City fancy dress party, Barton had attended dressed as Jimmy Saville and was having a great time burning holes in the other player's costumes with a cigar. A youth player named Jamie Tandy decided to get in on the joke and tried to burn a hole in Barton's clothes using a cigarette lighter and no doubt expected the jovial midfielder to be able to see the funny side of the gag being reversed.

What Tandy didn't expect was that Barton would react by stubbing out the lit cigar on his eyelids. Barton was fined £60,000 by the club and was later sued by Tandy for £65,000.

1. Manchester United

Ryan Giggs almost had a punch up with Roy Carroll in 2002, but that was nothing compared to the events of 2007.

A 15-hour marathon drinking session organised by Rio Ferdinand, saw the Manchester United squad take in a burlesque show at a casino and visit a pub owned by Vera Duckworth before arriving at the Great John Street Hotel, where they were joined by 80 hand-picked women.

The evening ended on a decidedly un-festive note as Johnny Evans was arrested on suspicion of rape. No charges were ever brought against him, but the incident nevertheless ensured that Manchester United's Christmas parties would never be quite so wild again.

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