Jamie Vardy's Having A Party cover

Jamie Vardy's Having A Party

By


The incredible story of Leicester City’s miracle season under the charmingly effective Claudio Ranieri has been a joy to behold. Their Premier League triumph will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in the history of team sports.
We need to recognize ourselves in sport, even if we know that in large part it’s an illusion.
It’s why we can watch a man most of us had never heard of this time last year and will him to score for a team we never cared about.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars on 1 review




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Jamie Vardy's Having A Party

INTRODUCTION

There is something quintessentially English about Jamie Vardy that allows us to forgive his transgressions and forget the fact that this blue collar sporting hero is earning double the money in one week that most families live on for an entire year.

His rise from non-league obscurity is often compared to Roy of the Rovers but Vardy, in truth, has little in common with the teetotalling, scrupulously fair comic book captain who would never question a referee, let alone wag an angry finger in his face.

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

No, the reason why the great footballing public has taken Jamie Vardy to their hearts is that he is one of their own. He hasn’t been cosseted and pampered like many modern day players more interested in tweeting about their cars than earning their obscenely inflated salaries.

Mirror Image

Vardy chases lost causes, he runs until his legs give out, he scores, of course, and he appears to love every single minute he’s out on the pitch.

We need to recognize ourselves in sport, even if we know that in large part it’s an illusion.

It’s why we can watch a man most of us had never heard of this time last year and will him to score for a team we never cared about.

The incredible story of Leicester City’s miracle season under the charmingly effective Claudio Ranieri has been a joy to behold. Their Premier League triumph will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in the history of team sports.

Enduring Symbol

We can admire the tenacity of N’Golo Kante, swoon at the silky skills of Riyad Mahrez and applaud the precise distribution of Danny Drinkwater. But Jamie Vardy remains the enduring symbol of the little engine that could.

He, more than any of the others, battled seemingly insurmountable odds just to get to the Premier League. That he conquered it was as much a surprise to him as it was to us.

No wonder Leicester’s fans have been singing all year that he’s having a party.

Why Not?

His story offers hope to every Sunday league player turning out in the cow field behind the pub; for every disillusioned youngster battling to be noticed by the mercenary-funded top tier teams who prefer to look abroad than in their own back yards; for every worker everywhere who pins their hopes on hard work and commitment ahead of position and privilege.

The Sheffield-born striker kept going through the muddy backwaters of English football, where crowds of a couple of hundred constitute a big gate and a portaloo might double as a changing room. Why wouldn’t he play his heart out on the stately grounds of the Premier League?

Proof

Fair Use, via YouTube

Proof

With his 24 goals and 6 assists for Leicester, and another two strikes for England, Vardy proved all the doubters wrong in a single season.

Darker Side

There is a darker side to Vardy’s personality, one perhaps more in step with many young men rousting about on a Saturday night than we would care to think about.

His drinking habits got him into hot water with the law and his more recent boorish behaviour, caught on camera at a casino, calling a fellow gambler a “Jap” was unacceptable.

He should be called to account for these indiscretions, especially now that impressionable young fans follow his every move. But his popularity in a melting pot Leicester City dressing room tends to suggest something rather different.

Painful To Watch

On the Monday night when Leicester City’s season was hanging in the balance, when Tottenham Hotspur still had an opportunity to crash the party, most of the 1st team headed to Vardy’s house to watch the game together.

Some confessed they were ready to go home at half-time when home team Chelsea fell two behind and looked unlikely to fight back for the draw that would guarantee Leicester the Premier League trophy.

But the hundreds of fans that gathered outside Vardy’s Leicestershire mansion wouldn’t have approved.

Believe

The video footage published the next morning by defender Robert Fuchs showed just what a party at the Vardy’s could be; wild scenes of celebration from players who really wanted to believe all season long and now they truly could; Leicester City were the champions of England.

Jamie Party’s having a party.

Yes indeed.

Video

CHAPTER ONE - BAD BOY

The striker with the scruffy mohawk had just scored his second for non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels in the eighth tier of English football and looked likely to hit a hatful more in the key away game when the call came from the touchline.

“Vardy, it’s time.” The call boomed out from the touchline, partially lost in the clatter of pelting rain on the solitary metal-roof terrace.

Jamie Vardy, then 23-years-old, raced off the pitch showing the blistering pace he’d tantalized defenders with all that muddy Saturday afternoon in 2007.

Stocksbridge Park Steels 2006–07. Back row (left to right), Collins, Crossfield, Lovell, Ward, Poulter, Siddall, Vardy, Ring, Beggs. Front row (left to right), Kennedy, Broadbent, Richards, Ludlam, Walker, Powell, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

He didn’t stop to talk to the coach but grabbed his kit bag from the makeshift changing room at Belper Town’s home ground in Derbyshire and ran for the fence, leaping through a gap in the rusty railings.

Late

“I kept him on probably a bit longer than I should,” recalled former Stocksbridge manager Gary Morrow. “His mum appeared, he came straight off, jumped over the fence and ran off in his kit and boots and everything.”

Outside the ground, his crane worker dad, Phil, was sitting waiting in his car looking anxiously at his watch. The time was 4.15pm. He had been waiting for 15 minutes.

Throwing his dirty bag in the back seat, Vardy, still wearing his muddy boots, jumped in the passenger seat. “Okay, let’s go…sorry I’m late.”

Wanting More

“You were coming off after 60 minutes.” Phil Vardy was worried about the Saturday afternoon traffic on the M1 back to Sheffield. “We have to be back by 6pm. You know that. The traffic’s a mess.”

“Yeah but I got another goal. I thought I could snatch a quick third.”

It was always the same at away games, cutting it so fine Vardy often had to sprint from the car into the family home with literally seconds to spare.

Father and son barely spoke during the journey south. His wife Lisa was biting her nails, looking down at her watch every few minutes. The M1 was gridlocked.

Cutting It Fine...

“We’ll make it fine, dad, don’t worry.” Vardy pulled down his sock and scratched at the electronic bracelet around his ankle. “Just one more month and we won’t have to do this any more.”

With that, Phil turned the corner and pulled up outside the house. “Go! Jamie, go!”

Vardy threw open the car door and hurtled the 50ft to the front door, turning with a triumphant smile the moment he reached the front step. It was 5.57 pm.

“Made it!”

Race Against Time

Vardy was five months through a six months home detention sentence for criminal assault. He had to be home between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am seven days a week, or face a possible prison term. The tag around his ankle ensured the authorities knew if he broke the curfew, even by a few minutes.

“If the away games were too far, I could only play an hour and they’d have to take me off,” Vardy said later.

“It was a case of hope we were winning, jump over the fence and straight in my parents’ car to make sure I was home in time. That was for six months.

Tagged

Bracelet électronique image by Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tagged

“You could wear the tag like an ankle guard. There was no way of breaking it, even if you got kicked. You could hit it with a hammer and it’s not coming off!”

Tough

As countless defenders over the years can attest, “Vards” may be skinny but he’s tough. He came from Hillsborough, a working class suburb of Sheffield where the locals had a reputation for being as hard as steel.

After Vardy got drawn into a pub brawl not far from his home, he insisted he didn’t start the trouble. But friends said his two attackers quickly regretted crossing him.

"I’d been out with a friend who wore a hearing aid and two lads thought it would be funny to start mocking him,” he explained.

Hard

“They got thrown out of the pub but they were waiting for us an hour and half later. They started attacking him and I wasn’t going to stand there and let him take a beating.

“I’m not proud of what I did but I defended him, which I’d always do for a mate, and it got me in trouble.

That’s one of the things that’s made me the person I am. It was hard. It has an effect on your family. All my mates were out enjoying themselves and I was locked in the house. Luckily I had a big DVD collection.

“It was something I had to learn from and I did.”

Today

As far as Jamie Vardy has come since then, he never shies away from discussing his hardscrabble past. It is essential to his make-up, an indelible component to his sensational rise from non-league journeyman player to the most feared and deadly striker in the biggest football league in the world.

These days, he drives to work in a £168,000 Bentley, he lives in a £1 million mansion in Melton Mowbray - scene of the infamous party held the night Tottenham Hotspurs drew to confirm Leicester’s EPL triumph - and earns £80,000-a-week.

Untold Story

“Vards” has come a long way since racing home from away games to avoid a bleak spell behind bars. But then, so has every member of the Leicester City dream team that proved everyone wrong and became the greatest underdog champions in the history of sport.

Here’s the untold story of how a team of cast-offs, journeymen and also-rans went from bottom of the league relegations survivors and 5,000-to-1 no-hopers to champions of the English Premier League in the space of just 12 months.

Yes, Jamie Vardy’s having a party. But the striker and his teammates are not alone. Bookmaker William Hill had to pay out £3 million to punters who believed the impossible could happen - and the entire football world is still celebrating a sporting miracle that may never be matched.

CHAPTER TWO - THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

The Leicester City players had been focusing on playing one game at a time and tuning out all the expectations for so many weeks that their emotions at the final whistle were more about incredulity than joy.

The excited faces in the crowd at the King Power Stadium were much the same, some streaked with blue and white paint that had merged in the afternoon downpour, all wreathed in smiles of astonishment.

Perfect Script

The script had run to perfection right to the end with Jamie Vardy, the team’s goalscoring talisman, netting two, and Andy King, the club’s most loyal servant, claiming the other in a mismatched final home game against Everton on May 5, 2016.

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichal stalked his penalty area with a sour face after giving up a goal to ruin his clean sheet but he couldn’t hold onto it for long. The result didn’t really matter. The team, the city and most of Britain were just waiting for the final whistle.

The result coming through several days earlier from Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea fought tooth and nail for a 2-2 draw that ended Spurs’ final surge, had launched the celebrations.

Could It Be...

Long-serving midfielder Andy King was among the first team players to gather at Vardy’s home hoping for the best the previous Monday evening.

“We arrived totally buzzing, thinking, ‘Could this be the night that it happens?’’ he told the Daily Mail. “Then at half-time, it was like, ‘You got any water, Vards? We have training tomorrow’.' It was gonna be, ‘See you in the morning’.

'Nobody actually left at half-time but I think we might have. We stayed because there were people outside and it would have looked so bad being photographed going in and then sneaking away at half-time.

Special Night

'After the (Gary) Cahill goal we knew Chelsea would get another chance. It got nasty after that. Chelsea were in their faces and Tottenham lost their cool, understandably. Then (Eden) Hazard. What a goal. The place just went mad.’

“It was pretty wild towards the end,” recalled Vardy’s wife, Becky. "Some of the lads started to leave at around 4:30am.

"It was a special night. I was running around hosting all these crazy boys, getting them drinks, making food and just watching the moment unfold. Amazingly our daughter Sofia was asleep upstairs the whole time! Her bedroom is above the kitchen, she’s 18 months old but she didn’t even move!”

Back To Work

Image by Samlcfc, Public Domain

Back To Work

Vardy later revealed things got so out of hand the players broke his TV. Some millionaire players might have bought a new one; he got it fixed.

But the celebrations were only just beginning. Solid pros that they are, the Leicester players were back in training the next day nursing their sore heads.

Upside Down

Back at the KP, the clock running down with Leicester ahead by a comfortable margin in their final home game of the season, referee Anthony Taylor’s whistle caused pandemonium.

Captain Wesley Morgan bumped heads with the redoubtable Polish stand-in centre back Marcin Wasilewski and the players in blue fell into one another’s arms across the pitch as those in white quietly slipped down the tunnel towards a summer full of mid-table recriminations.

Given a guarantee of Everton’s mid-table finish at the start of the season, Leicester would almost certainly have taken it.

But that was before. This was now. And Leicester had turned every expectation on its head.

Unforeseen

Manchester City was left fending off Manchester United for a place in the Champions League; Tottenham was still trying (and failing) to finish above arch foes Arsenal for the first time in forever. But Leicester were the champions of England - and they had already secured their place in the following year’s Champion’s League, the zenith of world club football.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League executive chairman, hailed Leicester’s success as historic and admitted it has “made mugs of us all.”

He added: “Nobody saw it coming and even when it was halfway through the season nobody said it could be sustained.

Absolute Best

‘It’s probably the biggest sporting story ever and the biggest sporting achievement ever. In terms of an overall story, as an overall achievement, it is absolutely the best.”

The Premier League suits had all week to choreograph the trophy ceremony and they didn’t disappoint. The crowds had been gathering outside the King Power for five hours before kick-off, and a giant screen was set up for those unable to snag a ticket. It was like a Super Bowl tailgate party except pretty much everyone was supporting the same side.

Fair Use, via YouTube

Rain had turned to tears before the game as Andrea Bocelli sang ‘Nessun Dorma’ and ‘Time to Say Goodbye,’ with his friend Claudio Ranieri lachrymose alongside on a dais stacked with flowers.

Rocking

The small matter of a game of football delayed the festivities for the 90 minutes that followed. Then the celebrations proper could really begin.

From Club Ambassador Alan Birchenall bringing out the trophy with a smile on his face as wide as the Castle Yard, to Captain Morgan and Ranieri taking a jug handle each to lift it to the skies, the King Power was rocking on its foundations.

Even the bizarre procession of Leicester City's Thai owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha parading around the field with one of his entourage carrying a Thai royal portrait seemed to fit perfectly into the surreal occasion.

Pinch Me

“Pinch me,” said one lifelong fan to his son. “I’m going to wake up any moment and find out we’re back in League One.”

But he would have awoken to the Sunday morning papers emblazoned in Leicester City blue and the knowledge that he truly had witnessed a bona fide miracle.

“They did it,” said Sky commentator Martin Tyler. “The greatest story ever told…”

Available Now!

Available Now!

‘Jamie Vardy’s Having a Party: Leicester City’s Miracle Season’ by David Gardner is available from Amazon as a Kindle eBook ($2.99) or paperback ($7.99).