Sportsmen and drink: Top five drunken misdemeanours

By Rhys Hayward

andrew flintoff

Even in today’s age of uber-professionalism, sportsmen and drink are a frequently potent mix, as Welsh forward Andy Powell dutifully reminded us in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In honour of his somewhat unconventional attempt at popping to the services for breakfast, TSR takes a look at just a handful of other sportsmen prone to moments of drunken misdemeanour.

Craig Gower

Gower’s drunken antics CV makes the efforts of even your most boisterous amateur touring side look practically Victorian. The Aussie-cum-Italian dual code Rugby star paved the way for Powell’s golf cart robbery when he was fined $100,000 for destroying a similar device at a charity event in his native Australia. Gower also streaked across the course, argued with guests and groped the daughter of a former Rugby League player before chasing his son with a bottle and vomiting on him.

His alcohol-fuelled behaviour also includes revealing himself to an Irish tourist and initiating a mass brawl in a New South Wales bar. Italy’s coach Nick Mallett initially hesitated calling up the Bayonne fly-half for the national squad after viewing his Wikipedia page but relented last summer, handing Gower his debut against Australia in Canberra.

Andrew Symonds

Another Aussie with a history of ‘amber nectar’-inspired behaviour, Symonds’ already rocky international career has been all but curtailed following an interview on Australian radio in January 2009. Clearly under the influence, the all-rounder launched a lewd attack on the New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman Brendon McCullum, labelling him ‘a piece of s***,’ before making lewd insinuations about temmate Matthew Hayden’s wife.

The Queenslander was briefly recalled to the squad for the 2009 World T20 in England but received his marching orders after a late night drinking session. Cricket Australia, frustrated by his persistent misbehaviour, cancelled his central contract soon afterwards, inadvertently turning Symonds into cricket’s first truly freelance professional.

Joey Barton

Barton’s history of drunken activity has severely dented his reputation and hampered what at times appeared a hugely promising career. The former Manchester City midfielder served 77 days in prison for common assault and affray in his hometown of Liverpool in 2008 following a late-night incident outside a McDonalds.

The Newcastle player also has a somewhat chequered history with regards to his team-mates, having been handed a suspended four-month sentence also in 2008 after attacking his teammate Ousmane Dabo whilst at Man City. Barton was also involved in an incident in 2004 when he stubbed out a cigar in the eye of City youth team player Jamie Tandy at the club’s Christmas party. The 27-year-old does appear to have put the worst behind him however, thanks to a stint at the Sporting Chance clinic.

Andrew Flintoff

Whilst most sportsmen seem to suffer from the ‘booze-hound,’ image, it only seems to enhance ‘Freddie’s’ status as a national treasure. Few will forget the iconic scenes the morning after the 2005 Ashes were sealed when Fred stumbled, bleary eyed, from the team hotel and on to an open top bus headed for 10 Downing Street, via a victory parade in Trafalgar Square.

The infamous ‘fredalo’ incident at the 2007 World Cup did cost the Lancashire all-rounder his vice-captaincy of the team however, and coach Duncan Fletcher claimed in his autobiography that Flintoff once turned up for a fielding session whilst captain in Australia in 2006-07, clearly still inebriated from a night out with fellow cricketing binger Ian Botham.

Mathieu Bastareaud

The young French centre might currently be terrorising Six Nations defences but as recently as this last summer his international career appeared in jeopardy after a bizarre drunken incident on tour in New Zealand.

Bastareaud claimed he had been assaulted by ‘four or five’ men near his hotel, sustaining facial injuries in the process. The accusation prompted an official apology from the New Zealand Prime Minister after doubts were raised over the security of players touring the country. However, after video evidence showed the Stade Francais player returning to the hotel unharmed, Bastareaud admitted he had fallen over in his drunken state, tripping over in his hotel room.

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