Wednesday 24 January 2018

Not so friendly fire as teammates lose plot

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

When Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ended up in the gravel on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday after colliding with each other it got yours truly thinking about rivalries between team-mates.

Hamilton and Rosberg are too straight-laced to become embroiled in a proper spat like Senna and Prost, but it's obvious that real resentment is bubbling beneath the surface.

Of course the notion of a team is different in Formula One, as you are primarily looking out for numero uno and you're never going to get a Leicester-style camaraderie with hugs and back slapping.

Speaking of back slapping, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone showed his 'friendly' fiery side when he slapped a member of his own staff in the tense closing stages of their Champions League semi-final win over Bayern Munich.

When a bunch of highly-competitive, adrenalin-charged athletes spend so much time together, it's not surprising that from time to time they won't see eye to eye, although on a pitch in front of 70-odd thousand with millions of television viewers watching is probably not the most advisable place for disagreements to come to the surface.

One of the most infamous fall-outs was between Blackburn Rovers pair David Batty and Graeme Le Saux in a Champions League clash away to Spartak Moscow in 1995. The pair became involved in a heated exchange of opinions after Le Saux's stray pass and the row took a turn for the worst.

Le Saux threw the first blow and broke his hand in the process. The defender later claimed he suffered the injury because he wasn't a fighter and hadn't made a proper fist.

Newcastle team-mates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer showed more fight than most of the Magpies players did this season, when they illustrated more playground antics by going toe-to-toe during a match at Aston Villa.

There was even schoolyard accusations of 'he never passes the ball to me' as some kind of justification for the actions.

The team-mates had to be separated by Villa captain Gareth Barry, while referee Barry Knight played the strict headmaster's role, showing both players red cards.

Another duo who were sent for early baths after becoming involved in some brotherly combat were Charlton strike partners Derek Hales and Mike Flanagan back in the days of real football hard men in 1979.

With five minutes to go in an F.A. Cup third round tie against Maidstone and the game level at 1-1, Flanagan played a ball through to Hales.

Hales was ruled offside and was furious as he had wanted the ball played a lot earlier.

Flanagan, who had scored Charlton's equaliser minutes earlier, said he had been doing that all season but Hales had not been taking advantage.

The players started fighting and were sent off by referee Brian Martin.

Bradford's Stuart McCall needed stitches in a facial wound after his involvement in a fracas with a team-mate during a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Leeds United.

Andy Myers struck him just before half-time at Elland Road and McCall then aimed a headbutt at the central defender, but in keeping with most of the Bradford players on the day, he missed.

Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar also showed he's not averse to a bit of in-fighting when Steve McManaman hit a weak clearance that gifted Everton the lead in the Merseyside derby.

The experienced Grobbelaar had a go at the young winger, who responded by yelling back at him.

This was like a red rag to a bull and Grobbelaar grabbed his team-mate by the throat and pushed him away.

McManaman, who wouldn't have been the most burly of footballers, wisely decided that enough was enough and swiftly walked away.

Another ex-Liverpool man Stan Collymore, who often hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, became embroiled in an argument with fellow striker Trevor Benjamin when playing for Leicester City reserves.

At half-time they took it inside to the dressing-room, where blows were traded, with Collymore refusing to come out for the second-half.

One of the nastiest flare-ups saw John Hartson mistaking Eyal Berkovic's head for a football during a West Ham training session.

Hartson attempted to haul Berkovic to his feet after he had been felled by the Welshman's crude challenge.

Berkovic reacted angrily, and Hartson kicked the kneeling West Ham midfielder in the head, booting him with such force that the Israeli couldn't eat for two days.

Another training ground melee that has gone down in infamy was between Manchester United duo Jesper Olsen and Remi Moses at Old Trafford in 1986, which left the Dane requiring eleven stitches.

There were also a couple of hard-hitting incidents in the build-up to the World Cup in 2002, with the normally laid-back Freddie Ljungberg wrestling on the ground with Sweden team-mate Olof Mellberg, and Jesper Gronkjaer somehow plucking up the courage to take on notorious hard-man Stig Tofting, after the former Hell's Angel put an ice cube down his shorts.

However, none of the above match one of the most unusual fallings out between sporting colleagues, when jockey Paul O'Neill in Zinedine Zidane style head butted his horse 'City Affair' after being thrown from the saddle before a race. If only the noble steed had head butted him back.

Now that's taking horse play to a whole new level.

Wexford People

Promoted Links