‘The bar was like heaven to players’ - Tony Daley opens up on Aston Villa’s drinking culture in new book

Aston Villa legend Tony Daley has revealed what the drinking culture was like in the dressing room in his new book: The Daley Record

Former Aston Villa player Tony Daley has released a new book on his life as a top level footballer.

The Birmingham-born former winger was a key part of Villa’s successful side in the late 80s and early 90s. He made 233 appearances for his hometown club and was an integral part of the teams which achieved a pair of second-placed finishes in the top tier of English football before winning the 1994 League Cup.

Daley was also capped seven times for England between 1991 and 1992 during his time at Villa before he moved on to represent Wolves, Watford, Walsall and Forest Green Rovers.

Aston Villa winger Tony Daley, circa 1989.  (Photo by Chris Raphael/Getty Images)
Aston Villa winger Tony Daley, circa 1989.  (Photo by Chris Raphael/Getty Images)
Aston Villa winger Tony Daley, circa 1989. (Photo by Chris Raphael/Getty Images)

Drinking culture in the game and Take That at Villa Park

In the book, called The Daley Record, the former Villa man touches on the drinking culture which was prevalent within football during his playing days.

He also mentions that the band Take That were regulars at the Aston Villa Players’ Lounge for games.

He writes: “Talking about the ‘drinking culture’, we had a Players’ Lounge where the old Traveller’s Club building was in the old Trinity Road stand. This place was like heaven to most of the players who drank because it was a free bar so you can imagine the fun and games that went on there, after every home game.

“Some people would spend the whole day in there getting legless – some probably missed the game as well! Amongst those who were allowed into the Players’ Lounge were, not only players and their guests, but celebrities and I certainly remember people like Nigel Kennedy and the lads from Take That going in there. A few years later, probably around 1991, one celebrity moment that sticks out for me was when Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts from Coronation Street) came in after a game with one of the Manchester clubs.

“He was a big celebrity in those days and everybody knew of him. When he came in, I remember he looked as though he had a ‘hydration problem’ already! He came over to talk to us and took a liking to my two-month-old baby daughter, Sheridan, and insisted on holding her in the air but then when he took her it looked as though he juggled Sheridan in the air and nearly dropped her. The whole room fell silent as they looked on at an embarrassed Kevin.

“Luckily, someone was able to rescue Sheridan as quickly as possible and she was unharmed and placed back in my arms. I believe the Villa official photographer Terry Weir actually took a picture of it. The Players’ Lounge was the place where footballers and staff would go after the game and chat with the opposition, so in those days, I’d be speaking with players like with Klinsmann, Beckham and Gascoigne (Gazza). What I liked was going into a battle on the pitch at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and maybe I’d been involved in a horrendous tackle, some scuffling or swearing, but come 5pm, everything had been forgotten and I’d be chatting to these guys as if nothing had happened. It was a great place to socialise and to wind down.”

You can order signed copies of Tony’s book from www.morganlawrence.co.uk.