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  Inside Out - North East & Cumbria: Monday September 15, 2003

JIMMY 'FIVE BELLIES' GARDNER

Jimmy Gardner and Paul Gascoigne
Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner is Gazza's top mate

Jimmy Gardner is a Gateshead lad who shot to fame through his friendship with Paul Gascoigne.

The man and his media image are two different people.

In a telling piece, football writer Phil McNulty cast Paul Gascoigne in the role of 'Around The World In 80 Days' adventurer Phileas Fogg.

He went on to say that casting Gazza's long time drinking pal Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner in the role of trusted companion Passepartout, was one leap of the imagination too far!

The world watched, fascinated, as Gazza and his ally attempted to revive a once glittering football career by travelling around the globe.

But what of the man Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner. Who is he? What is his story?

Media image unfair?

Paul Gascoigne
Paul Gascoigne

The press says he is the hard drinking fella who led his best mate Paul Gascoigne astray.

Those who know Jimmy say he's a gentle, likeable man. A man who has given up drinking.

He looks imposing, a big bloke, a lad's lad who has not enjoyed the best of relationships with the media.

Jimmy and Paul Gascoigne were childhood friends. He has been Gazza's constant companion for years.

Jimmy doesn't have an official role with Paul, they are best mates. So he travels with Gazza who foots the bill for all expenses.

Japes aplenty

The stories about Jimmy and Paul are legion.

GAZZA'S JAPES

Set up Jimmy 'Five Bellies' with a 'girl' he knew to be a transvestite.

Conned Jimmy into eating a mince pie after he'd scraped out the filling and replaced it with cat excrement.

Handed £1000 over to Jimmy after betting that he couldn't withstand a cigarette lighter's heat on the bridge of his nose for five seconds.

Bought a £1000 robot and programmed it to travel into Jimmy's room at Gazza Towers and announce: "Make a cup of tea, fat
man."

Jimmy was asked to leave West Lodge Park Hotel, in London, after guests were treated to the sight of him swimming naked across the duck pond.

Like the time he burned Jimmy's nose for a thousand pound bet.

Jimmy refutes that story and countered;

"I was asleep in a bar at Hexham. Paul couldn't wake me up.

"So he put the lighter on my nose and that woke me up."

The tales go on and on with Jimmy denying that he encourages Gazza into performing these pranks.

"People say that I got him into trouble with the drink but, if anything, it's the opposite.

"You can't tell Paul what to do, he will do it if he wants to."

Reformed character

Jimmy is off the beer, he has not been drinking. Just water, for nine weeks. He has just had a couple of glasses of wine.

In the past he would go out and drink 15 pints or more. Those days are over

Jimmy is well built and weighs 15st 2lbs, at his highest weight he was 19st.

In 1999 Jimmy served four weeks in prison for threatening some teenagers with an unloaded air pistol.

"I'm Jimmy five bellies. The hard man. The minder. The big drinker, every day and night!

"That is not me. I'm a loving guy. I love everybody. I don't want to hurt anybody and I want to be myself."

That prison sentence seems to have been the turning point, it upset his family. Especially his Mum.

Jimmy Gardner
Prison sentence really hurt Jimmy

"Yes, it upset her. I was locked up for fighting.

"I've grown out of that. I realised that three years ago. I don't want to put my family and kids through that again.

"My son Liam broke his heart and was getting stick at school. It hurt my family."

Jimmy is trying to relaunch himself. He claims that he has some TV work on the horizon.

"If nothing happens in TV then I'd go back to fixing cars.

"I've had my time, I've had a good life.

"I've been around the world, thanks to my mate Paul.

" If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't have been there."

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
BBC: Fogg from the Tyne
BBC: Six months for 'Five Bellies'
BBC: 'Five Bellies' sent back to jail

On the rest of the web
Gazzamania
Gazza's Golden Moments

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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