Football puts boot into booze
For decades, British football and drinking went hand-in-hand. It was a partnership built on the need for young men to let off steam and bond with their team-mates.
Managers gave tacit approval to such sessions and excesses went largely unreported.
How times have changed! Now even Harry Redknapp, that most British of football bosses, is considering a complete in-season ban on his players indulging in any alcohol at all following Ledley King's recent indiscretion.
For some of the mavericks of years gone by, it would have been too much to bear, practically taking all the fun out of being a footballer. But these days the top players have several thousand reasons a week to stick to the rules.
The biggest influence on the drink culture in British football has been the influx of foreign players. I remember one ex-pro recalling his astonishment when his club's foreign contingent arrived at the players' Christmas party with car keys in hand. Surely they weren't going to drive home from the party of the year? Well, yes they were, because they would be going home sober. One former player even told me how his new boss never really trusted him once he discovered he was teetotal.
Today, managers understand how abstinence can improve performance, while players have worked out that bagging one more three-year contract before they hang up the boots can make the difference between being fantastically wealthy or just very, very rich.
Technology is also a consideration when it comes to deciding where and when to have a drink. As one manager once told me, a picture of him "getting a bit out of order" in a nightclub could be on a tabloid picture desk before he's even left the premises.
I reckon most modern footballers are pretty dedicated individuals who have made big sacrifices before anyone has even heard of them, let alone started paying them big money. One thing is for certain; if I had enjoyed their money and fame in my late-teens and early twenties, I would have been in no fit state to play!