Or perhaps the wrong place of birth. If you’ve ever wondered why so many English football clubs’ Christmas parties seem to end with police activity or embarrassing headlines, 22 year veteran goalkeeper David James, currently ensconced as Bristol City’s #1, cites “an ingrained drinking culture” (“at one club I played for there would be a gathering of half a dozen or more players for a mad drinking session every week…week after week”). I don’t know about you, but all this talk is making me thirsty! From Friday’s Guardian ;
English managers, on the whole, tend to be great advocates of team bonding through alcohol consumption. I recall one of my managers actually yelling at the foreign players who didn’t go out and get drunk because, he said, they were being disloyal to the rest of the team. Another used to routinely go on a boozy night out – with the chairman and the coaching staff – the night before a game. I had a huge argument about it at the time because I felt strongly that a manager should also follow the abstinence rule – after all, how was he going to steer the dressing room if he was struggling with a hangover the next day? It seemed clear to me that it should be one rule for everyone involved in getting a result for the team.
The increase in foreign players in the English game has certainly made a difference to attitudes over here, but that’s not to say that foreign players don’t get drunk. There are a few who like the English mentality, but generally speaking I find that they are significantly less enthusiastic about alcohol and going out to clubs.
It does amuse me, though, that we seem to need these teetotal rules in English football, while in Europe having a glass of wine before a game is seen as civilised. I remember Steve McManaman describing how the whole Real Madrid team would sit down for a meal and enjoy a glass of wine together the night before a match. If English players did that there would be mayhem. In our culture, drinking to excess – drunkenness – always seems to be the end result.