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Jailbird Utd and Sporting Chance FC

"JAILBIRDS UTD: These footballers were either harshly dealt with or just plain rotters, but all have had a spell inside. Three quality strikers have failed to make the match-day squad in the form of Eric Cantona, Patrick Kluivert and Frank McAvennie, but the trio all managed to get away with suspended sentences or community service.................... SPORTING CHANCE FC: All of these fellas have had some troubled times with booze, drugs, aggro and gambling and have tried to temper these personal problems with a spell at Sporting Chance, the clinic down in leafy Hampshire, set-up by the ex-Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams. They might of all had to overcome their demons, but they are a talented bunch.................... Some like Adams and Joey Barton stray into both camps...................."




1 - img1img2  Luke McCormick:  On 7 June 2008, McCormick was arrested by patrol units of the Central Motorway Police Group on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Returning from the wedding of former team-mate David Norris, McCormick's Range Rover collided with a Toyota Previa at 5.45am between junctions 15 and 16 of the southbound M6 motorway, near to Keele Services in Staffordshire. The crash resulted in the death of Arron and Ben Peak, aged ten and eight, from the Partington area of Manchester. Their father, Philip, the driver of the Previa, was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire with fractures to the neck, back, ribs and swelling of the lungs; while a 49-year-old man and his two sons, aged eight and fifteen, were treated for minor injuries. The group was travelling from the Manchester area to Silverstone in Northamptonshire to watch the World Series by Renault motorsport event. The following day, McCormick was charged by Staffordshire Police with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol in his blood, and driving with no insurance. He appeared at Fenton Magistrates' Court on 9 June and was granted conditional bail until 16 June when he appeared at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. At this hearing the charge of driving without insurance was dropped against McCormick and the case was adjourned until 8 September and subsequently to 6 October. On 2 July 2008, McCormick was suspended by Plymouth Argyle, and his contract was cancelled by mutual consent on 22 July. He pleaded guilty to charges of causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol, and received a sentence of seven years and four months' imprisonment on 6 October.



2 - img24img23  Stig Tofting: The Danish midfielder was jailed in 2003 after head-butting the owner of Café Ketchup in Copenhagen. The ex-Bolton player had a disturbed childhood, he returned home at the age of 13 to find both his parents dead. His mother had been shot by his father, before turning the gun on himself. Tofting served four months for the headbutting incident, and was later fired from Danish club AGF after a massive bust up at the team's Christmas party.



3 - IMG67img15   Gary Charles:  After the end of his playing career, Charles struggled with alcoholism. He was twice imprisoned - first for drunken driving and soon afterwards for cutting off his electronic tag to go on holiday to the Costa del Sol. In September 2005, he was arrested and convicted for assaulting a woman in a taxi office in Clay Cross , north east Derbyshire. After the jury was unable to reach a verdict, a retrial was ordered. Between the trials Charles was jailed for turning up to court drunk At the later hearing, he admitted he had an on-going drink problem. He was subsequently fined and given a suspended sentence and a community service order. Charles was jailed for 12 months in December 2006 after committing a public order offence whilst serving his suspended sentence.



4 - img3img4  Joey Barton: Trouble appears to follow Barton everywhere, but it finally caught up with him when he was convicted of common assault and affray for a training ground attack that hospitalised his Manchester City team mate Ousmane Dabo. Barton was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment in May 2008, and returned to action for Newcastle United, to whom he had transferred in 2007, in August 2008.           



5 - img11img7   Jan Molby:  In October 1988 he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for drink-driving, having crashed his car outside a Merseyside nightclub and legging it away from the scene of the crime with speed never been seen from him on the football pitch. Liverpool decided to stand by him, and he returned to the first team in January 1989.



6 - img9img8  Tony Adams:  The title of the former Arsenal captain's autobiography said it all: 'Addicted'. Adams was at the centre of the drinking culture at Highbury in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His antics ranged from the trivial - letting off fire-extinguishers with team-mate Ray Parlour - to the serious - playing a match hungover or falling downstairs and requiring 29 stitches. In 1990 he crashed his car into a wall while four times over the alchohol limt. He was sentenced to three months in jail. He went public with his addiction in 1996, his acclaimed autobiography followed two years later. He's still on the wagon.



7 - img10img14  Jermaine Pennant:  During his spell at Birmingham, he was arrested and convicted for drink-driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.



8 - img3img4   Mark Ward:  The former Everton, Manchester City and West Ham midfielder was jailed for seven years in 2005 for posession of cocaine with intent to supply. The 44-year-old had fallen on hard times and agreed to rent a flat in Liverpool in his name - before handing the keys over to drug dealers. When police raided the home they found £700,000 of cocaine.



9 - img9img2  Marlon King:  King has convictions for 14 offences, dating from 1997. He received fines, driving bans, community service sentences, a rehabilitation order and orders to pay compensation on convictions including: theft from a person and from a car, criminal damage, and attempting to obtain property by deception; fraudulent use of vehicle licence document, driving without insurance, speeding, drink driving; a wounding incident while playing amateur football, and two cases involving assault of young women rejecting his advances in the Soho area of London. Two cases have led to imprisonment. In May 2002 he received an eighteen month prison sentence for receiving stolen goods, in relation to a BMW convertible that he was found driving. He was found not guilty of a charge of assaulting a police officer in a related case. His solicitor commented that "His reputation will be tarnished forever, whatever success he achieves, he'll always be referred to in a Tyson-esque way as someone who has had a criminal past and that is a considerable penalty." Gillingham continued to pay his salary while he was in jail, and supported in his appeal, which resulted in the sentence being reduced to nine months, and he was released on licence after five months, returning to the Gillingham team within two days of his release. In December 2008, again in the Soho area, he was arrested on suspicion of punching a 20 year-old female university student in the face, causing a broken nose and split lip for which she was treated in hospital. He was later convicted of sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and placed on the sex offender register for seven years. He has indicated he will appeal against the length of his jail sentence. Wigan Athletic immediately initiated the cancellation of his contract.



10 - img22img21  Lee Hughes:  During the 2003-04 season, Hughes was involved in a car crash in which his Mercedes CL500 collided with a Renault Scenic near the Warwickshire village of Meriden. A passenger in the Renault, Douglas Graham, was killed in the incident and the driver Albert Frisby was severely injured. Hughes and his passenger left the scene, prior to turning themselves in to the police the following day. Hughes was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and released on police bail, allowing him to complete Albion's First Division campaign and gain promotion to the Premier League with Hughes being the club's leading league goalscorer on 13 goals. On 9 August 2004, Hughes was found guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of Douglas Graham, and of leaving the scene of an accident. Although defended by Nick Freeman, the judge nevertheless criticised Hughes for having a "callous disregard" for the four occupants of the Renault and sentenced him to six years imprisonment. Hughes was also banned from driving for ten years. His contract with West Bromwich Albion was terminated. In January 2005, his appeal for the sentence to be reduced was refused. He was held at Ashwell Prison in Rutland and Featherstone Prison in Staffordshire. While in prison he converted to Islam. He played in the Staffordshire County Senior League for Featherstone F.C., the prison football team.



11 - img25img27  Mickey Thomas:  The former Welsh international was jailed in 1993 for his part in a counterfeit currency scam. The Wrexham legend, always makes light of his 18-month stint behind bars with the gag: "Roy Keane's on 50 grand a week. So was I until the police found my printing machine." The midfielder also made the headlines when he was attacked and stabbed in the arse. His last notable footballing act was to score the equaliser for Wrexham when they sensationally knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1992, but was imprisoned just weeks later.



12 - img5img6  Peter Storey:  Storey made his name as a tough tackling midfielder for Arsenal and England, but his post-playing days have been marred by a series of bizarre brushes with the law. He first served time for running a brothel, the Calypso Massage Parlour, in 1979 before his involvement in a counterfeit coin scheme earned him 3 years in jail in 1980. In 1982 he was given two 6 month sentences for stealing cars, and after a 12 year hiatus he was sentenced to 28 days in jail in 1992 for attempting to import pornographic videos in the spare tire of his car.



13 - img16img17  Rene Higuita:  Higuita was imprisoned in 1993 after getting involved in a kidnapping. Acting as a go-between for the drug barons Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina, he was largely responsible for securing the release of Molina's daughter by delivering the ransom money. He received $64,000 for his services, which breaks Colombian law as it is an offence to profit from a kidnapping. He was incarcerated for seven months before being released without charge. Commenting on the case, he has stated that "I'm a footballer, I didn't know anything about kidnapping laws." Because of the term in prison Higuita was not fit for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In another scandal, he tested positive for cocaine on 23 November 2004 while playing for an Ecuadorian football club.




14 - img4img14  Mick Quinn:  Quinn joined Portsmouth in March 1986 but they just missed out on promotion to the First Division. In April 1986, he was found guilty of drink-driving and received a £100 fine as well as a one-year driving ban. He breached the driving ban twice later that year, and on 19 January 1987 was sentenced to 21 days in prison, but was freed after serving 14 days. Despite this, he was Portsmouth's top goalscorer with 24 goals in all competitions as they finished Second Division runners-up and reclaimed the First Division place that they had last held in the late 1950s.



15 - img18img19  Duncan Ferguson:  The Everton legend's most significant moment of his time with Glasgow Rangers came on the pitch, but had little to do with football. It was during 1994 that his onfield yet off-the-ball assault on John McStay of Raith Rovers led to Ferguson's incarceration within Barlinnie prison for 44 days.



16 - img12img13  Vincent Pericard:  In March 2006, Pericard was snapped doing 103mph in a 70mph zone in his flash Mercedes CLK 500. He tried claiming his stepfather Jack Henri Pericard was behind the wheel, but what he didn't know was that British police would track down Mr. Pericard Senior, and confirm that the stepdad had not set foot in the UK for over 3 years! Late in August, Pericard pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, and was sentenced to 4 months in jail. "The greatest fear I had was for my sanity," said Pericard to The Sun after his release. "I was afraid of losing my mind, going mad, becoming claustrophobic and not being able to express myself any more. I feared my head would explode." What nearly sent Pericard over the edge was the prison's daily routine, made of regular hours and fixed rules. ""We ate in our cells, where we'd be locked up until 11am, and then we'd go and get our lunch, which we'd once again eat behind closed cell doors. It was the same routine again with the evening meal." A nightmare in essence, just like the measly £7 weekly salary given to each convict, which Pericard used to recharge his cellphone, and buy extra clothing or food. "If you stayed in bed all day you didn't have enough to eat." To top it all, the ex-French Under 21 star also witnessed an inmate (in the cell next to his) take his own life... "Prison is a whole other world, a place where no one wants to end up, It was a society of criminals with its own way of thinking, where all the laws and rules are different. I was living daily with drug dealers, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, people who no longer form part of society, and I do not want to be like them. It is the toughest thing I have had to endure in my life." Pericard went on parole (suspended sentence) after being originally sentenced to 4 months in prison, which meant he had to live another 3 months with an electronic ankle bracelet. Not ideal when you're playing football, but in case you're wondering: the bracelet never comes off, not even during practice sessions. "The judge who sentenced me was in a bad mood that day, and he wanted to make an example of a footballer," argued the forward. "When he passed sentence on me I didn't know how to react... the police put handcuffs on me straight away and led me to the cells - the shock lasted for days. In my cell I learned that everything in your life can change in the blink of an eye. I'd been happy, with my friends and my freedom, but suddenly they took everything away: no contacts, no phone, nothing. It has been a hard lesson for me: from now on I will respect the law and I recommend everyone do the same." Fortunately for Pericard, during the hellish 5 weeks of reclusion he received the support of his former coach at Porstmouth, Harry Redknapp, as well as old teammate Teddy Sheringham. The board of Stoke City also gave the Frenchman a big vote of confidence, by giving him a second chance at the club. "They could have easily canceled my contract and saved some money, but they didn't, they had faith in me and this helped, gave me hope. Now, every day of the week is like Christmas, because I am back with my friends and my teammates."







Managerimg1img2  TONY ADAMS

Coachimg1  JON GOODMANThe ex- Millwall and Wimbledon striker is the fitness coach at the clinic.

1img1  PETER KAYThey say all goalkeepers are mad, but amazingly no keepers have had a spell at the clinic, so Sporting Chance's CEO Peter Kay will have to don the gloves.

2img2  FERNANDO RICKSEN: The Dutch ex-AZ Alkmaar, Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg defender might not of always held a full pack, but he had the full-house of alcohol, drug, gambling, depression and anger issues.

3img3  KENNY SANSOM: The eight-six capped ex-England and Arsenal left-back encountered problems with gambling and alcoholism after retirement from the game.

4img4  ALEX RAE: The ex-Millwall, Sunderland, Wolves and Rangers toughnut had a tough time with alcohol after retirement.

5img5  CLARKE CARLISLE: The brainbox centre-half had an alcohol problem when he was at QPR as a youngster.

6img6  PAUL McGRATH: The ex-Man Utd and Aston Villa gentle-giant always had an issue with the booze, and had a spell at Sporting Chance after his retirement from Sheffield Utd, but left the programme early when he fell off the wagon and decided to fight it himself.

7img7  MICHAEL CHOPRA The Cardiff and ex-Newcastle and Sunderland striker had a major gambling problem which was affecting his game and his marriage. Along with Sporting Chance, Chopra credits Roy Keane as helping him sort out his private life.

8img8  PAUL GASCOIGNE: The troubled footballing genius has been in and out of clinics for his alcohol, drugs, anger and depression problems. Every football fan holds their breath when he name is mentioned in the news.

9img9  ADRIAN MUTUThe Fiorentina striker had a spell on the marching powder when he was at Chelsea, which saw the West London club sack the Romanian international and are currently seeking compensation from the player to the tune of millions.

10img10  PAUL MERSONAfter his much publisised fall from grace at Arsenal with drink, drugs and gambling, Merse reinvated his career with Middelsbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. During Pompey's promotion campaign he spent a small amount of time at the clinic trying to overcome his obsession with gambling.

11img11  MATTHEW ETHERINGTONThe Stoke City left-winger had a massive gambling problem while at West Ham, which the club tried to help him with his £800,000 bookies debt.

12img12  JEFF WHITLEYThe ex- Man City, Sunderland and Cardiff, Northern Ireland international, had a big booze problem.

13img13  JOEY BARTONThe ex-Man City scouse scally has been in and out courts for violent and drinking offences, which saw him spend time at the clinic for his aggression issues. The jury's still out whether Barton has mended his ways.

14img14  NOEL WHELAN: The ex-Leeds, Coventry, Boro, Millwall and Aberdeen forward has battled his booze problems with the help of Sporting Chance.

15img15  ANDY BROWNRIGGThe ex-Hereford, Norwich and Kidderminster defender went to Sporting Chance for help in 2008 for addictive-related problems.

16img16  BRADLEY ORRThe Bristol City right-back had a spell at the clinic due to his anger issues after headbutting his teammate Louis Carey and then spending time inside for a violent incident outside the Romeos Browns nightclub in Bristol.

17img17  MATTY PATTISONThe South African ex-Newcastle and Norwich midfeilder had a problem with drink related incidents which saw him spend time at the clinic. Pattison returned to South Africa in hope of gaining a place in their World Cuop squad.

18img18  STEVE PATERSONThe ex-Manchester Utd and Sheffield Utd defender had a massive battle with the bottle whilst manager at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Peterhead and more sensationaly while at the helm at Aberdeen. He's since admitted missing an Aberdeen 3-3 home draw with Dundee Utd, due to a horrendous hangover.

19img19   WARREN ASPINALLThe ex-Wigan, Everton, Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Carlisle and Brighton bad-boy was, in his words, a loser - in life and at the bookies. Late one night last Christmas he sat on the railway tracks near his Hampshire home and waited for a train to take all his troubles away.

"I just longed for the train to hit me. I wanted it all to end. I heard it coming, but the train driver sounded his horn," he said. "I suddenly pictured my two lovely kids, stepchildren, mum and dad and my fiancée Karen and thought, 'What am I doing?' I just got out of the way as the train whizzed past me."

Aspinall, 40, did not enjoy great fame or fortune, but the former England Youth midfield player did collect some impressive signing-on payments and, on two occasions, commanded record transfer fees as his career took him to Everton, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. "I've worked it out that I've done at least £1 million gambling over my career," Aspinall said. "It makes me sick to think about it. I don't have a house or savings, but I'm working hard to earn a decent wage. But most important of all I have my life back and I have the love of my family and Karen. I haven't had a drink or a bet for ten or twelve weeks now. I feel very powerful."

His salvation was a call to the Professional Footballers' Association, which contacted Peter Kay, the chief executive of the Sporting Chance clinic established by Tony Adams, the former England captain who overcame alcoholism himself. "I was admitted to their clinic on January 20 this year and I completed the 26-day programme," Aspinall said. "It saved my life. I can't thank Peter, James West [the clinical director] and the others enough. Without them I'd be in a wooden box now."

Aspinall's story is typical of modern footballers: too much money at too young an age and too much time to waste it. "There's either golf, gambling or drinking," he said, "and it's the same today. Premier League players think they can afford to lose £30,000 on a bet, but they can't. One day it will take over their lives to an extent where they blow all their £100,000-a-week wages on gambling. You will never beat the bookies."

Aspinall's taste for alcohol and gambling was established as a 19-year-old with Wigan Athletic. "There were a lot of Scouse lads who liked a bet," he said. "I started with ten pence yankees, but it soon grew from there."

Aspinall's big regret is that he ignored his father's advice. "Dad worked down the pit. He knew what real work and real life was about. He kept asking me to let him save money for me, but I ignored it. I was twice a record signing, usually the highest-paid player wherever I was, yet I've got nothing to show for it."

The card schools on team buses were particularly dangerous. "At Portsmouth I was in a card school with some very well-known players," Aspinall said. "It got so bad that we were playing for cars. If we couldn't afford to cover the bet, or we couldn't raise any more IOUs, we'd play for the car keys.

"It was crazy. How are you supposed to play a professional football match alongside a team-mate who has just taken your car? I can remember being on the field trying to play football, but in reality all I wanted to do was to get back on that team bus and try to win my car back."

Aspinall is clean now and is determined to stay that way. "I know that one bet or one drink and I'm a goner," he said. "I couldn't do that to the people who have cared for me. I think there needs to be more education for young players. They need to know the dangers. There are young lads out there now having a drink and having a bet. My advice to them is, stop now. Tell your manager or someone at the club and get some help.

"In my day, being seen in a pub was OK, but when I went into a bookies it was very visible. Today, with internet gambling, you can hide away. But you won't be able to hide when the debts are piling up. I was a horrible man. I lied about what I was doing and thought I could get away with it. The truth is, you can't."