THE WANDERER: Modern-day footballers - what a load of tweets

The Bolton News: Carlton Cole Carlton Cole

ONCE upon a time, Wanderers fans would feel connected to their footballing heroes by sharing a pint in the local, or maybe the bus home from Burnden Park.

As time moved on, it would be a case of collecting autographs in the car park or mingling with players on pre-season tours or at social events.

Bit by bit the relationship became more distant.

After the advent of Premier League football at the Reebok and all the money that went with it, the men in white shirts ceased to be people you could bump into in the street and more those you worshipped from afar.

By the time of Gary Megson’s reign, for example, you could argue that the gap was as big as it ever has been.

Football had become massive business and with it came middle men and PR departments whose job it was to make the product look professional in the media.

And then along came Twitter.

Suddenly, fans were hearing first hand what Kevin Davies was having for breakfast and that Stu Holden had just got a new swanky hairdo. That middle man had been cut out entirely.

What could go wrong, you may ask?

Well if last week’s shenanigans are anything to go by, plenty.

Compared to some of the legendary online gaffes from the likes of Carlton Cole, Ryan Babbel or Joey Barton, the controversial post-Burnley exchange from Rob Hall, Sanmi Odelusi, Josh Vela and Joe Riley was small, small beer.

But it was a shining example of Twitter’s pitfalls. Young men make mistakes and within seconds, those mistakes are bouncing their way around cyberspace and being discussed in all four corners of the land.

Clubs do their best to implement online policies but, in truth, they are whistling in the wind. If someone wants to make their views known to thousands, millions even, if can be done these days in a click of a button rather than a phone call to a newspaper as may have happened in the past.

There are plenty of examples of when a footballer should have counted to 10 before pressing ‘send’ – here are just a small selection.

Carlton Cole

The England and West Ham striker landed himself with a massive £20,000 fine when he tweeted a bizarre ‘joke’ about immigration officers surrounding Wembley Stadium. Ill advised to say the least.

Ryan Babbel

Is there anyone on the planet who did not see his mocked-up picture of Sheffield referee Howard Webb dressing in a Manchester United kit? Artistic, but also rather idiotic.

Danny Gabbidon

The defender was hit in the pocket to the tune of £6,000 when he launched into a tirade against his own fans whilst playing for West Ham. He deleted his account almost instantly but must wish he had bitten his tongue.

Darren Bent

Who could forget his directions to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy on transfer deadline day? Hull, no, Stoke, no, Sunderland, yes. Less than five years later and the once-prolific striker is on his fourth different club.

Ashley Cole/Rio Ferdinand

The two England players took to Twitter during the whole Anton Ferdinand-John Terry affair a couple of years back, the result? An almighty mess for the Football Association to clear up.

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