Fuller vs Griffin: When teammates attack

Rarely is anything original in football.

Yesterday, during Stoke’s defeat at West Ham, one of the most bizarre incidents of the season unfolded as Ricardo Fuller slapped his teammate and club captain Andy Griffin after seeing his side concede an equaliser.

With Griffin clearly at fault for the goal scored by Carlton Cole, Fuller was unable to keep his emotions in check. So, with Stoke preparing to restart the match Fuller lost the plot, the striker heading straight over to Griffin and slapping him in full view of everyone, including the ref two feet away, leaving the official no option but to send the forward off.

See the incident here.

In truth however, Fuller’s slap was a little girlie in comparison to other fights witnessed between teammates down the years. And to prove this point, here are a list of some of the best/worst team bust-ups with the obligatory video evidence in support.

1. Kieron Dyer v Lee Bowyer (Newcastle United v Aston Villa, St. James’ Park, 2005)

Arguably the daddy of the on-field bust-ups.

It was classic playground stuff as the pair sized-up to each and let their fists do the talking. Dyer and Bowyer had to be separated by Villa captain Gareth Barry, while referee Barry Knight played the part of the no-nonsense headmaster, sending both players off for an early bath.

The pair later apologised for their conduct, but not to each other.

2. John Hartson v Eyal Berkovic (West Ham United, Chadwell Heath training ground, 1998)

Although this never actually took place on the football field, John Hartson’s battering of Israeli Eyal Berkovic is perhaps the most brutal beating ever handed out from one teammate to another.

Sadly for Berkovic, the Israeli’s arrogant and generally loathed reputation meant that little sympathy was sent his way after the Welsh dragon, John Hartson, pretended to use Eyal’s head as a football.

Who says players don’t take training seriously?

3. Graeme Le Saux v David Batty (Spartak Moscow v Blackburn Rovers, 1995)

The low-point of Blackburn’s ill-fated 1995/96 Champions League campaign came four minutes into the away game against Spartak, when then England internationals David Batty and Graeme Le Saux came to blows in a fight as seemingly lopsided as David versus Goliath.

The catalyst for the fight remains a bit of a mystery, some arguing that a wayward pass from Le Saux was the trigger although others suggest the right to take a throw-on sparked the face-off. Whatever the cause, the event has gone down in the history books as Le Saux – the footballer falsely charged with being gay his whole career – actually won the bout on points against the then Rovers hardman.