Paul Cook tells Pompey players: Party can wait

Twelve-year-old Aiden Rodgers, centre, is visited by Pompey mascot Nelson, left, and Pompey players Ben Close, Matt Clarke, Enda Stevens, Gary Roberts and Christian Burgess during the the club's visit to Queen Alexandra Hospital yesterday Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Twelve-year-old Aiden Rodgers, centre, is visited by Pompey mascot Nelson, left, and Pompey players Ben Close, Matt Clarke, Enda Stevens, Gary Roberts and Christian Burgess during the the club's visit to Queen Alexandra Hospital yesterday Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Paul Cook has told his Pompey players: Save your party until the end of the season.

Rarely a year goes by without a footballer in this country ending up in some sort of alcohol-fuelled scrape at their Christmas party.

The end of the season is the time to celebrate. We’ll have plenty of time to do it then

Paul Cook

But while Cook has no issue with any of his squad enjoying themselves on their time off, he insists the timing must be right and cannot affect their football.

And ahead of a vital run of games, the Blues boss has offered a cheerful warning to any of his players who may be tempted to organise a gathering: If you do it, just don’t let me find out about it.

Cook said: ‘I’d be very surprised if our players are brave enough to ask for a Christmas party.

‘If they have anything about them, they may sneak off somewhere and have one!

‘It will certainly be without me knowing.

‘If they’ve got anything about them they’ll get in the biggest bar in Southsea and have a right good go at it!

‘Seriously, though, those big Christmas parties are not good for me.

‘The end of the season is the time to celebrate. We’ll have plenty of time to do it then.

‘We’ve got a job to do and a fanbase to keep happy.

‘If we win the league, there will be the biggest party at the end of the season. So in my opinion, we’ll just wait for it.’

Some clubs choose to go away for a few days to get away from the glare of the media and the attention of fans with camera phones ready to capture every moment.

But Cook has his issues with those events that can turn into what he believes is the equivalent of a boozy stag party.

He said: ‘Every now and then, the lads need a day out – I understand that. It keeps you sane.

‘But there’s a correct time to do it.

‘Nowadays, when lads go away together, it can cause a few problems.

‘It’s a two-day scenario and if you drink heavily for two days that’s nearly a stag do.

‘But work it out. If they had a two-day party this week and then go to Northampton at the end of the week, it’s not going to be very good for you.

‘Why would you want a two-day party in December? It’s not for me.’

Cook, however, certainly understands that his players are normal blokes who are entitled to enjoy themselves away from Pompey’s League Two promotion push.

‘Have footballers ever needed extra scope to get themselves into trouble? Not in my lifetime,’ he said.

‘When I was playing, I got myself into trouble with the best of them, so I’m not going to criticise anyone for that.’

Some other Pompey managers have allowed their players to take the day off on Christmas Day in recent years.

But with a Boxing Day trip to Leyton Orient, Cook has told his players they don’t have the luxury of enjoying the festivities this year.

He added: ‘We don’t have Christmas as players.

‘We are playing on Boxing Day and we will travel on Christmas Day.

‘So we’ll train Christmas Day and travel Christmas night.

‘We like to think our lads are focused on football. It’s part of the job.’