Football’s Hard Men and Vinnie Jones

Luke Griffin@SL_TeamTalk

In terms of breeds of footballers my favourite are the ‘Hard Men’ of football. You wouldn’t want a team full of them but one or two to solidify your midfield or defence is, in my opinion, something I’d want as a manager. They’re hard working, great leaders, cult heroes and will constantly win the ball from the opposition.

The most famous is probably Vinnie Jones. The 6″2 Welsh midfielder is famous for winning the 1988 FA Cup with Wimbledon over Liverpool and giving out brutal tackles. Vinnie Jones even presented in a film called ‘Soccer’s Hard Men’ which I watched last week. It spoke about the ‘hard men’ of the game and Vinnie gives his opinion and insight. This article will discuss what makes a ‘hard man’, their benefits and a sort of biography of Vinnie Jones. He was fined and banned for the controversial  film for ‘putting the game into disrepute’.

David MacKay and Billy Bremner

David MacKay and Billy Bremner

Character of a Hard Man

The hard men of football, like Nobby Stiles, Graeme Souness and Vinnie Jones all have similar characteristics. Not only are they physical, tough and aggressive but are great leaders and have many properties of a footballer that a manager would want in their team.

These men are leaders. They demand respect, they’re passionate and you can look up to them when it gets tough to keep going. This is why fans liked them. Everyone wants to be a leader and these men are good examples that fans from any background, class or job can look up to. They’re the leaders you like, unlike maybe politicians or your boss.

These are the most hard working men on the field and have a love for the game and winning. They understand the need to work hard and to make tackles to get results. There’s no slacking or letting someone else do the work for you.

Brave, hard tackling players that solidify your midfield are ideal players that you need in your team. Leeds’ achievements during the 1970s and late 60s including 2 First Division Championships, an FA cup, a League Cup and a European Cup final which was done with captain Billy Bremner and Norman Hunter in their ranks. Two ‘hard men’ who featured on Vinnie Jones’s film ‘Soccer’s Hard Men.’

Each of the ‘hard men’ wanted to show off to their team mates to show that they’re the toughest on the pitch and to intimidate the other team. In the 1988 FA Cup Final Vinnie Jones sorted out Liverpool’s hard man, Steve McMahon early on. This got Wimbledon pumped and meant Liverpool were on edge.

Vinnie Jones

One of football’s most well-known hard men is Vinnie Jones. The welsh midfield who received 9 caps for his country and played for teams like Wimbledon, Chelsea and Leeds. He played 9 years at Wimbledon in two spells after they bought him for £10,000 from Wealdstone. Winning an FA Cup in his first spell there.

People know him for his infamous hard tackles and his dirty tricks. While at Wimbledon he was part of their famous crazy gang. He infamously grabbed Paul Gascoine by his testicles (see image below) and in his film ‘Soccer’s Hard Men’ he described his dirty tactics of pulling armpit hair when picking up players and standing on toes.

Gazza and Vinnie Jones

Over his career he picked up lots of cards and dismissals, collected 8 stitches in his leg and picked up nicknames like ‘chopper’ and ‘psycho’. Jones disliked refs thinking they are too soft and said ‘you need tough character to be a winner and a leader’. Jones holds the record for fastest booking of 3 seconds into a match. He committed a lot of two footed tackles like this one.

Vinnie was never scared of another player. He didn’t care about the player and their reputation, just wanted to win. He liked the style of physical prowess rather than beautiful play. Jones said he was the opposite of Gary Lineker and asked “would you want Lineker or me next to you in a trench in a war?”

Jones has since gone in to acting being in films such as Snatch, Eurotrip and an X-Men film. He also came third in the 7th series of Celebrity Big Brother.


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