Saturday, October 30, 2010


As a student I was quite partial to a drink. I'm British and it's part of our culture, part of our ascendancy into adulthood to dabble, dabble a bit more, then get absolutely splattered as often and as thoroughly as you possibly can. We would play pool in the early evening at The Broadfield over a "casual few pints", before heading downtown to the Royal for a couple more snifters and then onto the Leadmill to take in some live music, shake our bodies in an absurd fashion and drop three or four more pints of Becks. The next day we would recount all the highpoints, most of them involving a vain attempt at totalling our alcohol intake for the evening. Eight, nine, ten pints, was it. Was there a double vodka and lime in there too at one point? Dear me. Then a kebab and home to watch Match of the Day on the vcr with a bottle of homebrew and the light-fingered woman from the hairdressers. I was Adam Johnson's age and off the lead. It was fun, a lot of fun. Importantly I was flat broke, like many other students and here the comparison keels over, burps and dies a swift and painless death.

A glass of Becks yesterday

Adam Johnson is, what, twenty-one? Something like that. I am loathe to check, because it will make me feel both slightly odd and very old. He is also rich beyond his uncluttered Middlesbrough upbringing might be expected to have prepared him for. Like the tight, sharp German pils in my days, the cash is dribbling out of his ears.

The gnarled old chestnut of putting young men and big bucks together has been thrashed to bits over the years and we are all aware of the consequences. I would probably have been alongside Adam and Gareth and Joe, trying to impress the ladies and hanging out with the boys. But wait a minute. Did you say Gareth? What the hell's Gareth doing out on the bender with us? Shouldn't he be at home reading a book or something?

A bottle of rum last week
And here's the crux of it. We never quite leave this light-headed world of bubbles and fizz behind. It follows us into our thirties like a stooped man in a hood, and on again into middle age where we make even bigger fools of ourselves on slightly more expansive budgets and much smaller quantities of alcohol. We refine our intake to Chilean reds and G&Ts, but still drink enough of the stuff to anaesthetise a medium-sized antelope. Our relationship with alcohol is like that with our football team. Love, hate and oh go on then, let's run with it again.

How many times have I said to myself either "that's the last time I drink red wine, white wine, then red wine again. And certainly no Sambuca in the middle next time" or "that's the last time I waste my money going all the way to bloody London to see them cave in feebly to West Ham yet again". What happens ten days later? Caught drunk in the precincts of the borough of Fulham on the way to watch another 3-1 defeat with a bottle of Sambuca in my back pocket. So, we are addicted to both, right?

Thought you said you'd not be coming again...?

This is the marvellous world that Adam Johnson came flying into. Thanks to cash and modern schooling methods, our footballers are now able to take things onto a new plane of wastefulness and idiocy. A flight to St Andrews to play golf on your day off. A student party. A student party! Well, I remember full well our dos in a shaky Hastings Road bedsit attracting all sorts of night hawks and carnivorous party beasts, but not once did I find Simon Stainrod or Mel Sterland, what might have passed for Sheffield football gliterati in the 80s, stalking our kitchen hoovering up the cans of Wards and eating slices of salami with their hands. (Mind you I'm sure Mel would have been there if he'd known about it....).

With wealth comes untold possibilities. St Andrews is suddenly a viable alternative to the pitch and putt in Timperley, a quickie to see the Lakers is as commonplace as a bus ride down to the GMex to see the Masters Soccer Sixes used to be. We live in enlightened and wasteful times, times of excess and bravura, scoffing and gagging, nothing much impressing us unless I can trump it with some other monstrous overstatement. Pink fitted Hummer? Lamborghini that turns into a hovercraft? Jetski with a bar attached? Black and white pool table with your name on it?

Joe Hart prepares to go down the shops for a tin of peas

Brian Marwood, another man lost in the timewarp of the 80s, made a uniquely appropriate quote last week, (just after Joe Hart had tripped the light fantastic on a bar top in Magaluf and just before he sipped the magic student broth in central Scotland) -boy, these lads can get pissed absolutely anywhere- stated, “our foreign players have educated the other players. Kolo and Yaya [Toure] are Muslim. They don’t drink. I’m hoping young players look at that, and think they’ve played in the Champions League final and there’s a player with Spain in the World Cup [Silva]. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, rarely goes out. Maybe I should try a bit of that.’’
Maybe Gareth, Joe, Shay and Adam should try a bit too. If the performance at Wolves is anything to go by, the whole team should stick to mineral water


  1. He he. As a 40 year old ex studen, alcohol enthusist, City fan this made me laugh. Well said that man.


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