Christmas bashes offer players a rare chance to enjoy some merriment ahead of the busy festive period. But, as is often the case, there’s always someone who take things a little too far.
Featuring sex, booze, and the world’s most inappropriate Secret Santa, these are 11 of the most infamous Christmas parties in Premier League history…
Quite what possessed manager Glenn Hoddle to put Vinnie Jones in charge of planning Chelsea’s Christmas party in 1994 is anyone’s guess, but the shindig certainly lived up to the midfield hardman’s Crazy Gang persona.
Jones pulled out all the stops with a boozy lock-in at a west London pub that featured a unique party game: dwarf tossing. “The idea was to pick up a dwarf and hurl him as far as you could,” team-mate Tony Cascarino later recalled. “I had a go, but I can’t remember how I did. They were heavier than I expected.”
Within six months of the party, Jones had left Chelsea for a return to Wimbledon. Purely coincidental, of course.
The Newcastle squad of 1998/99 took ‘lad bantz’ to a disturbing new level when it came to handing out presents at their Christmas get-together that season.
Midfielder Didi Hamann was the not-so-proud recipient of a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, while defender Alessandro Pistone was handed a sheep’s heart, in a jokey jibe at his apparent lack of commitment on the pitch.
“I’m sure it was a joke,” Pistone said. “The others had some really funny presents too: Temuri Ketsbaia got a hairbrush and Duncan Ferguson a prison shirt.”
West Ham, 1998
Hammers duo Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock and Trevor Sinclair landed themselves in a whole heap of trouble after a ‘70s-themed Christmas bash out in Essex. Having been turfed out after last orders, the pair allegedly took their frustrations out on a parked Mini Cooper belonging to a local beauty therapist. Wing mirrors and all were ripped off as general mayhem ensued.
Razor was charged with affray over the incident, while Sinclair was accused of criminal damage. However, conflicting evidence ultimately led to Ruddock being acquitted of the charge, though Sinclair was less fortunate – he was slapped with a £250 fine and forced to pay £225 in compensation.
With the club already in the spotlight following an unsavoury incident involving Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate outside a nightclub, the Leeds hierarchy pulled out all the stops to try to ensure the team Christmas party went off without a hitch.
David O’Leary held a face-to-face meeting with the entire squad before the festivities began to remind them of their responsibilities, while chairman Peter Ridsdale hired a team of security guards to accompany the players during an army-themed bar crawl across the city.
It didn’t work. Returning in a taxi to his hotel room for the night, Robbie Fowler got in a scuffle with a photographer after the latter tried to take a picture of him asleep in the cab. A camera was allegedly damaged, and Fowler soon found himself arrested – though he was later released without charge.
The presence of both Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage in Leicester’s ranks was always a recipe for disaster, and that proved to be the case at the Foxes’ 2001 Christmas party.
The tipping point came when Wise presented Savage with the Secret Santa gift of a teddy bear in a Leicester shirt with a sex toy attached to it, and a message reading: “You’re the only p**** in a Leicester shirt.”
Oddly enough, Savage didn’t take too kindly to the present and a scuffle ensued. Manager Dave Bassett later played down the incident. “The players bought each other presents and there was a bit of mickey taking which was a bit pornographic,” Bassett said. “But that’s the way it is. When I was a player the same sort of thing used to happen at parties. It’s a bit of good-hearted mickey-taking.”