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Silly season: 5 football Christmas parties which ended badly

We revisit a couple of team nights out which turned soured.

The Liverpool players (including Steve Staunton, far right, back row) dress up for their night out in 1990.
The Liverpool players (including Steve Staunton, far right, back row) dress up for their night out in 1990.
Image: Phil O'Brien/EMPICS Sport

SHANE LONG AND his West Brom team-mates were in Dublin earlier this month to sample a taste of the city’s nightlife.

The annual Christmas party, which the majority of professional football clubs allow their players, is traditionally one of those rare nights when the team let their hair down as a group.

However, they have occasionally ended disastrously and must prove a nervy time for managers.

Below, we revisit some of the more memorable ones:

Robbie and Spurs pay a visit to Coppers

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The trip to Coppers effectively spelt the end of Keane’s Spurs career. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/Press Association Images

In 2009, then club captain Robbie Keane arranged a one-night stay in the Irish capital – behind manager Harry Redknapp’s back.

Having told the Spurs boss that they were heading off on a golfing trip, Keane brought the lads to Dublin’s popular nightclub Copper Face Jack’s, and paid the price for it.

He was promptly stripped of the captaincy and found himself shipped out to Celtic a couple of months later.

Clearly not a fan of Christmas parties, Redknapp said: “They’re nothing but aggravation. Everyone’s waiting for you to trip up, or go out and be acting silly.

”If they tell me they’re having a Christmas party I’ll tell them they’re not having one.”

Joey Barton: Role model

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Barton is no stranger to controversy. Credit: PAUL THOMAS/AP/Press Association Images

Dressed as Jimmy Savile in a yellow shell-suit and white wig, Joey Barton was handed a £60,000 fine by Manchester City after stabbing a cigar out in the face of youth team player Jamie Tandy at the club’s fancy-dress do in 2004. Charming.

Hoops trio spend a night in the slammer

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Petta spent the night in a cell with two of his team-mates. Credit: EMPICS s9n20

Celtic travelled to Newcastle for a night on the Toon in 2002, which resulted in three of their players sleeping in a cell.

Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren were arrested outside Buffalo Joe’s nightclub, along with Neil Lennon who was later released, and were held in custody until the following morning after a photographer reported his camera stolen.

Hammers get hammered

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Ruddock during his West Ham days. Credit: Steve White/EMPICS Sport

Neil Ruddock and Trevor Sinclair were both charged for damaging the car of a teenage beauty therapist in 2004 but we prefer the story of Hayden Foxe from three years before that

The Australian international ran up a bill of £2,000 at London’s Sugar Reef club before deciding there was no need to make his way to the men’s room and urinating on the bar.

Stay classy, Millwall

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Sadlier (right) with former Millwall team-mate Tim Cahill. Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Having been forced to retire earlier that year, former Millwall striker Richie Sadlier returned to his last professional club Millwall that December for the gettogether. During what he described as an “uncomfortable” experience, a local nightclub was hired out one Tuesday afternoon.

After a strip show kicked off proceedings, the younger players were sent to a local shopping centre to invite along as many attractive women as they could find for later that evening.

The previous year, things didn’t run quite as smoothly as one of the coaches was bottled and the club physio had a gun pulled on him. It later transpired that the aggressor in both incidents was a pimp for some of the performing dancers.

Listen to Richie discussing the topic on last night’s Off The Ball here. Also worth reading, The Secret Footballer’s take on the football Christmas party.

Originally published December 2012

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Ben Blake

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