Lennie clamps down on card schools

Last updated : 24 January 2003 By Michael Morris
Cards have been banned on the short journey from the team hotel to grounds when City play away. Lennie wants the team fully focussed on the job in hand.

"We do lots of long journeys and every one we undertake is three hours each way. You can't really stop them playing but what I have told them is that they should only play for money they can afford to lose. If it gets excessive I'll stop it all together but I'm reluctant to do that because it treats them like schoolboys.

"But on no account do they play between the hotel and the ground. That had been done on the odd occasion so it just needed clarifying - and it was clarified. Once we leave the hotel I don't want them doing anything apart from focusing on the game."

Lennie has introdeced heavy fines for players caught breaking the rules. Although so far no one has fallen foul of Lennie's wrath.

"They don't do it maliciously. They just don't think about it, so I have to think for them. If I catch any of them playing between the hotel and the ground - which is usually a 15- to 20-minute journey or half-an-hour at the most - then the roof will fall in on their heads. They would be fined substantially if I caught them playing then. Those are the rules that have been laid down and that's what we're sticking to. I said this six to eight weeks ago and I've had no problems so far. What I can't do - and I'm not going to do - is stand over them and make sure they're playing for pennies instead of whatever they're playing for.

"You'd like them all to read a book or watch one of those daft videos they have but players have always been the same. They have played cards since time immemorial but these days they earn more money. It's always been there and, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with it providing it is in proportion. I've never had to do anything drastic or draconian. I've just clarified matters here and I feel that's the proper thing to do."

Cty defender Chris Barker gave a players view

"The gaffer did have a word about it but it's only a few pounds and a friendly little game. The lads don't argue about it, so it's nice for them to have a game and relax. I don't see anything wrong with a game of cards to keep the boys going on a long journey. Footballers have always played cards but I don't think it's for the figures said in the newspapers. It's not even close to that at Cardiff City. It's just a few pounds and anyway I would say most of the lads watch videos and TV on the coach these days."

Here's hoping both Lennie and the players come up trumps at Huddersfield tomorrow. Quotes from The Western Mail.