REMEMBERING VINNIE JONES'S VIDEO NASTY
Twenty-eight years ago today, Vinnie Jones released his infamous Soccer’s Hard Men video – a VHS so grizzly that it earnt him a six-month ban from football.
Featuring Graeme Souness, Nobby Stiles, Norman Hunter, Ron "Chopper Harris" and Billy Bremner, the 78-minute film was a nose-breaking, leg-busting homage to the game’s hardest bastards.
“Vinnie Jones is a product of the evolution of the game of football in Britain in the late 80s and early 90s as the emphasis switches firmly towards strong, athletic and above all physical players,” explains the narrator, as the camera zooms in on Vinnie’s naked body (save for a pair of tight white pants).
Amid the horror tackles and devious elbows, it is Jones’s own showreel of mayhem that steals the show – a highlight package which includes a punch to the face of Arsenal’s Anders Limpar and a two-footed lunge on Crystal Palace’s Marco Gabbiadini that brings tears to the eyes, even three decades on.
The Football Association were aghast. The grey men in grey suits at Lancaster Gate choked on their cornflakes as Jones described the dark arts he and others like him employed to intimidate opponents.
Before the video had even been released, our eponymous hero had been fined a record £20,000 and handed a six-month ban from football – ultimately suspended for three years – by the FA for his role in “bringing the game into disrepute”.
Meanwhile, the clubs of the players involved were quick to distance themselves from the contents.
Sam Hammam, chairman of Wimbledon, whose Crazy Gang featured heavily in the video, said the production was "nothing to do with Wimbledon", describing Jones (who played for Wimbledon) as "a mosquito brain" and banning the sale of the video in the club shop.
But the criticism didn’t stop Vinnie’s video flying off the shelves - Soccer's Hard Men would become the second best-selling sports video in the run-up to Christmas 1992.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity, eh?