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23rd Oct 2019

Why players secretly like it when their teammates are late for training

Wayne Farry

Sponsored by Paddy Power

One would assume tardiness isn’t appreciated, but that’s not how it works at every club

On the latest episode of Liquid Football, the panel – including Luis Garcia, Jonathan Walters and Steve Sidwell – discussed Borussia Dortmund’s decision to fine and drop Jadon Sancho after he arrived late back to the club from international duty.

The sentiment among them all was clear – Sancho had been silly in returning late, allegedly more than 24 hours after he was due back at the Bundesliga club – before the topic turned to how lateness was treated during their own playing days.

Sidwell in particular spoke of his time at Stoke, where he played alongside Walters, and how the players would excitedly wait to see who would arrive late for a game close to Christmas, in the hope that their Christmas party kitty was as large as possible.

“We had one at Stoke where you had players… This was the build up to the Christmas do, which is always in December so before then the fines were hot. Hot, hot,” said Steve Sidwell. “Because obviously you wanted more in the kitty.

“So we had one at where at Stoke, the canteen was up right at the front of the training ground. And there were big glass windows overlooking the car park.

“And you know, if everyone had to be there – on a matchday for instance, it (the fine) got doubled as well – so if everyone had to be at the training ground at 11.30 for pre-match, you knew that everyone was lining up at that window.

“It gets to 28 minutes past and all of a sudden you’ll just see boys racing around towards the gates, having to wait for the gates to open. And you can see it lashing down with rain, their wash bags in their jackets, sprinting out of their cars. We’re banging on the window.”

Walters, who alongside Robert Huth was responsible for handling the fines, reiterated the desire for teammates to turn up late, and revealed just how stubborn some players were when it came to being fined.

“No one liked us because we ran the fines,” the former Republic of Ireland international joked. “But it was double on a matchday as well, that’s why you wanted people late on a matchday.

“As everyone was banging on the window I’d just get my little black book out. But there’d be a few that wouldn’t want to pay. So you’d have to go and see the manager.

“And it’d be the same ones that wouldn’t want to pay, or they’d be late that much, that at the end of the month you’d be like ‘You owe X amount,’ and they’re like ‘I’m not paying that’.”