Footballers' kicks won't be in Wan Chai

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am


In the good old days - or were they the bad? - celebrity footballers drank and caroused as much as the fans who adored them. And they didn't mind who knew it.

Things have changed. If players aren't seeking out private clubs and VIP rooms to let their hair down, they're getting super-injunctions to keep their misadventures out of the press.

So this week, as Premier League clubs Chelsea, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers compete in the Barclay's Asia Trophy at Hong Kong Stadium, it's unlikely you'll find Fernando Torres or John Terry ensconced in a Wan Chai hot spot. Quite a contrast from days gone by when Hong Kong was synonymous with footballer high jinks.

The litany of misbehaviour is legend. After a night on the town, Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour was arrested following an altercation with a taxi driver in Wan Chai during a club tour here in 1995. Then there was Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne's infamous 'dentist's chair' incident at the now defunct China Jump nightclub - when he was strapped in and force-fed Drambuie and tequila, making headlines around the world.

And who could forget Chelsea's visit in 1999, when high-profile players ended up brawling in a Wan Chai club after one of their players groped the girlfriend of a local triad boss?

Further back, in 1978, West Bromwich Albion's pioneering end-of-season trip included a photo opportunity at the Great Wall. For player John Trewick, it was all too much. 'Once you've seen one wall, you've seen them all,' he said.

The British tabloids later named him the 'Great Wally of China'.

We're willing to bet our house there will be no wallies this time round.