Friday, November 06, 2009

Another case of footballers making the news for the wrong reason

So, recently, English Premier League footballer Marlon King went and got himself banged up for 18-months for a sex assault. It's not the first time he has been in trouble with the law either.

This is yet another, albeit more extreme than usual, example of the kind of story that crops up every now and again in the newspapers, as footballers seem to be as much on the front pages for being involved either as the perpetrator or the victim of a fracas in the early hours as they are on the back pages for scoring goals.

Even though he intends to appeal, King is clearly a troubled person, but, when considering some of the slightly more trivial cases, I suppose it must be hard to go out on the town if you’re a footballer. I’ve had the occasional night out with groups of players and, sure, it’s nice to walk straight to the front of the queue and to be looked after by proprietors, but there are downsides too. There are inevitably supporters who want to sing your name or bend your ear about tactics when all you want to do is hang out with your mates, and then there are the opposition fans who, fuelled by too much booze, want to tell you exactly what they think of you. And if you’re Stephen Gerrard, a bit of a row about the music in a club ends up with you appearing in court.

I suppose the simple solution is that if footballers don’t want unwelcome attention, they shouldn’t go to places where they are most likely to get it. Harry Redknapp even went so far as to ban his Tottenham players from nightclubs after another King, this time Ledley, ended up in the local police station after a few too many. “I don't want players going out to nightclubs, getting drunk and misbehaving,” Redknapp said. “If you look at the problems, they nearly all come when people get drunk. I don't understand it; they're so well paid, so well looked after.” I think Redknapp echoed the opinions of millions of hard-working football fans with that vox-pop. Oh, and, incidentally, the alleged quote from Ledley King when he found himself dishevelled in a police station in the early hours of the morning was: "Boss man, boss man, I don't deserve to be here - I'm rich." Classic.

Footballers are young and vivacious, so telling them not to go clubbing is futile, but it does seem to be a very British thing to drink your bodyweight after a game. I remember hearing a story about an Arsenal party where the English players were throwing booze down their necks while the foreign stars like Henry sat in the corner nursing their orange juices and wondering why their team mates were abusing their bodies so badly. It’s not often you see hammered overseas players being snapped by the paps as they stagger out of nightclubs having just been involved in a dust up. Can you imagine Tierry Henry downing pints or doing shots of tequila in a dentist chair?

Of course, it’s none of our business how and where players unwind but, if having to miss out on going to a few of the rowdier clubs in town is the price they pay for all the other rewards being a footballer brings, then it doesn’t seem like a bad deal to me.

And, as far as Marlon King goes, the depressing thing is that another club will snap him up with no questions asked when he gets out. Okay, if he does his time then he is perfectly entitled to get back to playing football, but it just seems unfair that the likes of him and Joey Barton, yes, this Joey Barton, the one who is always in trouble, can live the wonderful lives of footballers and bank the pay-cheques.

No comments: