When footballers fight: Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez bust-up a reminder of some historic brawls between the game's toughest opponents
English football history is littered with punch-ups on the field
A real dust-up of the 1970s, when footballers were not so worried about the consequences. An English League Division One match at the Baseball Ground. Leeds hardman Norman Hunter threw the first punch, splitting Derby player Francis Lee's lip, before Lee threw left and right hooks at his opponent. Lee and Hunter then stare at each other after the punch up. Getty
This one wouldn't have looked out of place in a cage fighting contest. Newcastle teammates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer came to blows in 2005 during a Premier League match against Aston Villa at St James' Park. Bowyer got upset because Dyer wouldn't pass to him. It was a no-rules fight that seemed to last an eternity. Getty
Robbie Savage was the master of wind-up. He made the most of his ability on the field, and then added an extra edge by riling opponents. Playing for Birmingham in 2003 in the Second City derby against Aston Villa, Savage managed to antagonise the normally mild-mannered Dion Dublin as the match boiled over. The 'fight' was somewhat one-way – Dublin scythed through Savage and followed that up by headbutting him. Getty
The Charity Shield in England in 1974. Not really an appropriate label on this occasion. It's the season curtain-raiser, all for good causes (in theory). However, tempers boiled over and here's Liverpool's England star Kevin Keegan landing a right cross to the jaw of his Leeds opponent Billy Bremner. Both players were sent off, and both decided to tear their shirts off and throw them to the Wembley turf. They were also both banned for 11 games as a consequence. Shutterstock
A freezing night in Russia in 1995 didn't stop Blackburn Rovers pair David Batty and Graeme Le Saux from overheating. The pair collided going for the same ball, and decided that was reason enough to sort out their differences during this Champions League match against Spartak Moscow. Blackburn skipper Tim Sherwood stepped in to separate the pair, but not before Le Saux had broken his left hand in the melee. Getty
It's what the commentators like to call a "mass brawl". It's 2007 and referee Howard Webb attempts to defuse a scrap between the Arsenal and Chelsea players during the League Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. He wasn't very successful. Getty
Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez sorting out their differences is nothing new in football.
The Manchester City and Liverpool opponents kept the most
violent part of their confrontation to the privacy of the England canteen after a tasty aperitif 24 hours earlier on the pitch at Anfield.
However, over the years some of the most high-profile players in the business have failed to show such self-restraint. For them, waiting until the final whistle and the sanctuary of the dressing-room to share their views with annoying rivals, or even teammates, was asking too much. Instead the field of play became their battle ground.
There are many such incidents. But here is a selection of the most famous dating back to the mid-1970s, when the rules of football were somewhat different. Also, unlike Sterling's mea culpa and subsequent apology, saying sorry was definitely not part of the game.
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Updated: November 12, 2019 02:43 PM