Lags Eleven

ALAN ESSEX looks at the murky side of football

Lag: slang meaning ‘a convict’ or ‘ex convict’.

Following Hartlepool United’s recent brush with the national press regarding the possibility of signing Ched Evans, I thought I’d compile a team that have been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.

Whilst researching this I found that there were a disproportionate amount of forwards who have ‘served time’. Possibly something in their make up that drives them on, seeking headlines, eternal fame and glory in some cases leading to criminal activity. I don’t think any of our current crop need to worry about that then. There are many whose defending may be termed as ‘criminal’ but as yet this is not a prisonable offence, but we can live in hope. So, compiling a team was not easy and a bit like many Pools managers I’ve picked some players to play out of position. So utilising a novel 3-3-4 line up:

1 Luke McCormick – Goalkeeper: Whilst playing for Plymouth Argyle was sentenced to 7 years and 4 months for causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol, causing a crash that killed two children. He served 4 years and upon release signed for Truro City. He then moved to Oxford United before returning to Plymouth and even being controversially made club captain.

Tony Adams – Centre back: Essex born Adams was a one club man playing his entire professional career with Arsenal. He also played for and captained England having 66 caps. In December 1990 he was imprisoned for 4 months for drink driving having been over 4 times the legal limit following a crash. He served half of his sentence. Upon release other drink related incidents followed. He admitted to being an alcoholic and received treatment. In 2000 he founded the Sporting Chance Clinic, a charitable foundation aimed at providing treatment, counselling and support for sports men and women suffering from drink, drug or gambling addictions. His testimonial raised half a million pounds, all which was donated to his charity.

3 Jan Molby – Centre back: Served 6 weeks of a 3 month sentence in prison during 1988 whilst playing for Liverpool. This was for ‘wreckless driving’, he overturned his car outside of a nightclub.

Peter Swan – Centre back: Had 2 spells at Sheffield Wednesday and finished his playing career at Bury. He also won 19 caps for England. He was involved in a betting scandal during his first spell at Sheffield Wednesday. In December 1962 he was party to ensuring his team lost to Ipswich. As a result in April1964 he received a 4 month jail sentence and lifetime ban from football. The life ban was lifted in 1972 and he returned to Wednesday for the 1972 / 3 season. His story is a sad one, before his conviction he was considered to be a favourite to be in the 1966 England squad that went on to win the World Cup, his son died at 39 years old from cancer and he himself now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Peter Storey – Midfielder: Spent most of his professional career at Arsenal, playing 391 games in 15 years. Towards the end of his career he played for Fulham. He also won 19 England caps. After retiring from football he was convicted of various criminal offences; including keeping a brothel, and was jailed for three years for financing a plot to counterfeit gold coins. He was initially charged with supplying funds and storage for the operation and whilst on bail set up a brothel to finance a move abroad to avoid the trial. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to keeping a brothel in December 1979, and was handed a £700 fine and a six-month suspended sentence. He was also briefly jailed for contempt of court after failing to turn up to his own bankruptcy hearings. In September 1980 the trial for conspiracy to produce counterfeit money came to a conclusion and he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. In April 1982 He was handed a 12-month suspended sentence for stealing two cars he had on hire purchase whilst running a minicab firm. In 1990 he was jailed for 28 days for attempting to import 20 pornographic videos from Europe which he had hidden in a spare tyre. He has been married 4 times but I don’t think this counts as a criminal offence.

Joey Barton – Midfielder: Currently plying his trade with Queens Park Rangers, in May 2008 he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for ‘common assault and affray’ during an incident in Liverpool City centre. He served 77 days in prison. July of the same year he received a 4 month suspended sentence after admitting ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ on a former team mate.

"There are many whose defending may be termed as ‘criminal’ but as yet this is not a prisonable offence"7 Mickey Thomas – Midfielder: Starting off at Wrexham he then signed for Manchester United, then Everton, Brighton, Stoke, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Derby, Shrewsbury, Leeds United, back to Stoke and finally returning to Wrexham. In 1993 he was sent to jail for involvement in a counterfeit money scam. He jokes “Roy Keane was on £50,000 a week, but so was I until the police found the printing machine”.

8 Tesfaye Bramble – Striker: Began his career at Chelmsford City before joining Cambridge City. He then joined Southend on loan, later signing for them permanently. He then moved to Cambridge United on loan. Went on to play for Stockport County and Stevenage Borough before dropping down into non league with Felixstowe & Walton United. In June 2011 he was convicted of rape and sentenced to 4½ years in prison. He was released in November 2013 having served 2½ years. Upon release he played for Hadleigh United and then Ipswich Wanderers.

9 Marlon King – Striker: He has played for a long list of clubs: Barnet, Gillingham, Leeds, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Wigan, Hull, Middlesbrough, Coventry City and Birmingham City. He also has a long list of convictions that include: 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. He has been jailed 3 times and is currently in prison.

10 Lee Hughes – Striker: In 2004, whilst a West Bromwich Albion player he was sentenced to six years imprisonment for ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ following a fatal crash in November 2003. He returned to football following his release half-way through his sentence in 2007, and went on to play for Oldham, Blackpool on loan, Notts County, Port Vale and is currently with Forest Green Rovers.

11 Bob Newton – Striker: Making up the eleven and needing no introduction to Pools historians and supporters of a ‘certain age’. Having played for Chesterfield and Huddersfield he joined Hartlepool in 1977. His 48 goals in 150 games in a side that was always in the lower half of Division 4 made him a legend. In 1979 he was jailed for 9 months after crashing a car resulting in the death of his passenger, fellow team mate Dave Wiggett. He admitted to drink driving but denied causing death by reckless driving. After a 2 day trial he was found guilty. Unfortunately this was not to be the last time he appeared in court. During the English close season he played for New England / Jackonsonville Tea Men in the North American Soccer League during 1980 and 1981. Whilst in America in 1981 he was arrested and charged after a hit and run incident involving another vehicle whose driver had to receive hospital treatment. In 1986 he was given a 4 month suspended sentence and banned for five years after admitting reckless driving at Derby Crown Court. In 2007 he was back in court, again for drink driving. At the time he had been working as a lorry driver and was banned for a further 12 months and fined.

Well there you have it, a team who would strike terror into the heart of any law abiding citizens but a godsend to police, solicitors and probation workers throughout the land.