This year, we’ve been robbed of one of the great Premier League traditions.
You know the one we mean. The side who are bottom of the table cancel their Christmas party. ‘They don’t deserve it!’ your da screams in the Facebook comments section.
In truth, it’s probably for the best that teams won’t be getting in the festive spirit this year.
In a bygone era of no smartphones, only the grapevine was blessed with rumours about what really went on behind the scenes at football clubs’ annual nights out.
Since then, there has been horror story after horror story.
Let’s have a reminisce about some of the best ones.
7. Steven Caulker’s mysterious trip to the hospital
A night at the Ship Inn pub in Wandsworth sounds lovely, unless you’re Steven Caulker at QPR’s 2014 party.
Caulker ended up being taken to hospital – though the club insisted he hadn’t been in a scrap and had simply fallen over and hit his head (we’ve all been there). Per the London Evening Standard, however, witnesses reported an altercation after a woman spilled a drink on Rio Ferdinand. Joey Barton, believe it or not, acted as peacemaker.
6. There’s always one, and it’s usually Neil Lennon (2001 AND 2002)
Neil Lennon isn’t having a great time at Celtic this season, but even being 13 points behind Rangers is more respectable than his behaviour in 2001. The Hoops’ future gaffer fell over and hit his head on the kerb. The following year, Celtic held their night out in Newcastle.
According to the Mirror, there was an ‘incident’ with a group of photographers who turned up and Lennon, Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren were taken into police custody before being released.
5. Yobbery in Yorkshire (2001)
In 2001, Leeds players took to the city centre dressed in army uniforms with toy guns. All fun and games, of course, until a sneaky photographer tried to take a photo of Robbie Fowler sleeping in a car at the end of the night.
A scuffle resulted in Fowler, who was worth £11m at the time, being arrested. Per the BBC, chairman Peter Risdale insisted his striker was the “innocent party” and he was released without charge, but it wasn’t a great look for the club.
4. A very different Jamie Carragher (1998)
Imagine a young Jamie Carragher, dressed as the Hunchback of Notre Dame (not an image we can really get out of our heads either) spraying a stripper with whipped cream. Per The Sun, it fell to Paul Ince to tell the defender to “put her down”.
3. Robbie Keane’s secret night out (2009)
The marriage of the words ‘Tottenham’ and ‘bottle’ took on new meaning in 2009 when Harry Redknapp brazenly told reporters his players wouldn’t take the “liberty” of having a secret night out after he’d gone full Boris and cancelled Christmas.
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane pleaded his innocence over organising a £2000-per-player whip-round for a private jet to *Dublin* of all places and a massive day drinking session.
2. Joey Barton playing with fire (2004)
No, really?! Who’d have thought? Barton wasn’t the mature, well-rounded individual he is today back in 2004 and apparently spent the night boasting about his wages. But worse was to come when he and Jamie Tandy were caught playing with fire – quite literally.
In his autobiography, Barton recalled accidentally poking the 18-year-old on the eyelid with a cigar. “I was a bit p****d and he’d just tried to set me on fire,” he wrote.
“There was an ashtray on the table. Thankfully that was attached to the table. So I grabbed Danny Mills’ cigar that was in it the ashtray and went to stub it out on the back of his neck.
“But he clocked that something was going on, and turned around to see what was happening and I got him on the eyelid. It’s bad I know, I was drunk and angry after the f***ing idiot had set my shirt on fire.”
1. Fergie bans Xmas (2007)
Arguably the most notorious of the lot, as it led to Sir Alex Ferguson banning Christmas parties for good. The Mirror cite a Rio Ferdinand organised knees-up in 2007 which included Wayne Rooney inadvertently chatting up a journalist and telling her: “I’m dressed like Justin Timberlake tonight.” Worst of all, there was reputedly an orgy with players overheard shrieking like “hyenas”.