Norwich City A-Z: P is for pubs, as our alternative series enters dangerous territory
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Our alternative Norwich City A-Z has taken us into dangerous territory. Head of sport Chris Lakey treads carefully in the legal minefield that is P for pubs... and other misdemeanours.
A book, a set of golf clubs, a betting slip and a gun. Whodunnit?
This is not quite Cluedo, but there was trouble in store for the footballers connected with those four things – Iwan Roberts, Craig Bellamy, Kyle Lafferty and Sebastien Bassong.
Our ‘P for pub’ may be a little misleading: It was to be for pubs and other misdemeanours, a story of players who got into trouble with the law. It’s only when you start researching some of the stories and then study the laws of libel that you realise that’s dark territory. Best not go there. Anyway, this is a nice friendly series so best stick with stuff that’s raised the eyebrows of the football and moral arbiters.
Iwan’s book, All I Want For Christmas, is a fine read, full of funny anecdotes and great memories of a great career. It also contains reference to one Kevin Muscat, an Australian footballer well-known for his liberal interpretation of the rules and laws of the game. It was Muscat, playing for Wolves who crunched into Craig Bellamy, then with City, during a game in 200, causing some serious damage to his knee. In his book, the big man recalled a game a year later.
“About a year later we were playing our old friends Wolves at Carrow Road and I stamped on his back, right in front of the ‘Snakepit’, the corner of Carrow Road between the Barclay and the City stands where lots of our most vociferous fans sit,2 he wrote.
“They loved it. The ball came over the top, he was stretching for it, I gave him a little nudge and we both went down. The ref gave a free-kick. As I got up, I thought ‘Right pay back time!’ So I ‘lost my balance’ and trod on his back. Fourteen stone through eight studs, you do the maths. He was in agony, but the ref didn’t see it so I got away with it. Of course, I pulled him up and said ‘sorry mate, sorry mate’, but he knew. He knows what he did to Bellamy and, to be fair to him, after the game it was all forgotten.”
That earned Roberts a three-match ban. You suspect that wasn’t too bad a deal...
Anyway, on to the golf clubs and Bellers is involved again, this time during his days at Liverpool. It was 2007, ahead of the Reds’ Champions League tie against Barcelona when a night out escalated into a drunken row and the Welshman ended up whacking John Arne Riise with a golf club.
“I just whacked him across the backside with the club. You couldn’t really call it a swing,” wrote Bellers in his autobiography.
Moving swiftly on we come to Kyle Lafferty and his love of a bet which became an addiction and two years ago cost him a £23,000 fine after accepting a betting charge. Lafferty – who was a Norwich player at the time – has since had treatment and spoken openly about his addiction. It’s a long journey - we wish him luck.
The gun – a replica - belonged to former City defender Sebastien Bassong who ill-advisedly posed for a pictures with it. It didn’t look great, he was fined by Chris Hughton and apologised.
There have been numerous other examples of bad boys footballers - speeding fines have become far too commonplace, although few are up there with Carlo Nash, the former keeper who was caught doing 140mph on the A11.
And there are plenty of ‘stories’ about drunken players falling down nightclub stairs, lighting cigars with £20 notes and punching the lights out of a young team-mate who was getting on their nerves.
Was there a fight on the team bus after a 6-0 defeat at Fulham, was player X having an affair with the wife of Player Y (and, quite possibly, Z as well)?
We’ve all heard the stories - not all of us know what’s true and what isn’t...