In the 2017/18 season, West Bromwich Albion’s ill-fated mid-season trip to Barcelona became a notorious Premier League incident. Amidst the on-field struggles and a scandalous taxi incident, West Brom faced a season to forget.
As the 2017/18 Premier League campaign unfolded, West Bromwich Albion found the going tough. The club seemed to have lost its edge. Hovering precariously above the relegation zone, the Baggies desperately needed a turnaround. Enter the mid-season break – a chance to regroup, recharge, and refocus.
West Brom’s Player’s Boozy Antics Escalate
Alternatively, this break would be anything but rejuvenating for WBA. It was during this trip that the shocking taxi incident unfolded, involving four prominent players from the team. The culprits? Former Manchester City star Gareth Barry, ex-Manchester United ace Jonny Evans, England midfielder Jake Livermore, and former Wales goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. What seemed like a routine outing became a headline-grabbing scandal that would see the club making Front page headlines.
Mayhem At Barcelona Drive-Thru
In the early morning hours, after a night on the lash, the quartet hijacked a taxi from a McDonald’s drive-thru. The four of them asked the immigrant taxi driver to order their food for them. As he went off and ordered the food, the four of them took off in the taxi.
Mcdonald’s duty manager, Ms Gracia, said: “The driver placed a big order — a Big Mac meal each and four chicken burgers and the bill was €31.60. (£27.95).
“The driver got out to collect the order and one of the men got behind the wheel.“
“They thought it was funny but I felt sorry for him. I didn’t learn they were rich footballers until later. I hope the police deal with them.” – The Four of them later said the taxi was returned to the owner.
After coming back to the UK, players apologised for breaking curfew and failing professional standards as WBA representatives. This incident, they stressed, should not overshadow their commitment to turning around a challenging season.
Fast forward to 2023, and former WBA manager Alan Pardew reflects on the events of that year. Pardew took the reins in November 2017, hoping to salvage the season. However, the taxi incident threw a spanner in the works. “You obviously heard the media backlash and fans backlash of it all,” Pardew recounted in an interview with talkSPORT. He admitted that the incident shattered the team’s cohesion, leading to a string of poor results. “The group got fragmented,” Pardew explained, “part of the squad was over here and over there, and I could not bring it together, and therefore, you’re not going to win games.”
WBA lost eight consecutive matches, and the disarray caused by the taxi incident was evident. Alan Pardew’s sacking in April of that year signalled the end of an ill-fated reign. Consequently, it also paved the way for a new beginning under the leadership of Darren Moore. Even Pardew, looking back, admitted that the incident played a significant role in the team’s downfall. “It was only until I got a bit tense around it all, the best thing for everybody was to leave, and that was reflected in results after,” he confessed.