Football Hard Man: Red Card Roy
“Football is not like it used to be,” so says the old man that props up every bar in every boozer in Britain. “There are no characters anymore, no hard men.”
The old man at the bar will then bore you with stories about footballers like Norman Hunter, Graeme Souness or Billy Bremner, but if you want to learn about a hard man with character, then you need to know about Roy McDonough. Officially England’s hardest ever footballer, with a record of 22 red cards.
A biography about Roy titled, Red Card Roy, subtitled ‘Sex, Booze and Early Baths – The Life of Britain’s Wildest-Ever Footballer’ has just been released. As well as the red cards, Roy’s career saw him play more than 650 games for seven league clubs, score 150 goals, sink thousands of beers and sleep with 400 women. All while wearing a full-on growler of a moustache.
“There are no real hard men anymore,” says Roy, sounding like the old man at the bar, as he is being driven down the M25 on the way to another book signing. “Roy Keane was the last true hard man in the Premier League. There is no one like him anymore.”
When Roy McDonough talks about hard men then you should listen. This is a man who karate-kicked current Stoke City manager, Tony Pulis, to the floor in an FA Cup game, verbally sparred with his then teammate and now Everton manager, David Moyes, and had a continuing battle with current Sunderland manager, Martin O’Neill, when he was managing Wycombe.
He didn’t just fight against players either. “During one game for Colchester United against Walsall,” Roy shouts just before he disappears into the Dartford Tunnel. “I got arrested and put in the nick for swearing at a fan in the crowd who was giving me stick.”
Roy first got his marching orders when he tried to strangle the referee in a schools’ cup final at the age of 16. This didn’t stop him signing for his local team Birmingham City though, and moving onto Walsall and then Chelsea. “I’ll tell you something kid,” he says in his thick Brummie slur. “Walsall’s a better run club than Chelsea.”
Roy’s bitterness towards Chelsea is understandable as he never played a game for them, which meant that to fill the time when he should’ve been playing matches, Roy instead started to get more serious about drinking and womanising.
It was Roy’s move from Chelsea to Colchester that saw him settle into his true vocation as a footballer. He was now a hard-core drinker. Or, to put it into Royspeak: “It was lower division party time.” He introduced the ‘six by six’ rule, which meant that every player had to down six pints after the game before the coach left at 6pm. Some feat considering the game finished at 4.45pm. The drinking got that out of control that as part of a new fitness regime Roy promised the physio he would cut down to just 70 pints of beer a week.
There wasn’t just booze and early baths though, there were also lots of women. When Roy was playing for Exeter City he describes himself as becoming “The Third Division’s answer to Michael Douglas.” He was with a different girl every night of the week, not bothering to learn their names just knowing them by the days of the week they would meet. He even found time to run off with the groundsman’s wife when he went back to Colchester as player-manager.
Roy’s party piece was drinking a pint of lager whilst standing on his head. He would do this most nights of the week, as there were a lot of parties when Roy was around. Contrast this to Alan Shearer who celebrated his only Premier League title by going home and creosoting the fence.
Next time the old man at the bar wants to tell you a story, tell him the story about Roy McDonough instead, it should shut him up for a few minutes at least. And for that, Roy McDonough, lower league football legend, we salute you!EN