Vinnie Jones is writing a new weekly column on Easyodds.com called By The Balls. The Ex-footballer and Hollywood actor will be giving his unbiased, straight-to-the-point opinions on all that is happening in the world of sport every Tuesday.
We know the game has changed beyond all recognition. The things we used to do you couldn't get away with now - too many cameras - and I worry it’s becoming a non-contact sport when you see some of the fouls called, especially on defenders.
I’m really not sure whether players like Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling, both top-drawer players, would have been as good in our day or lasted as long. They’d have been knocked from pillar to post - although we’d have to catch them first I suppose.
It’s probably a good thing. Players like Phil Foden at Man City and Billy Gilmour at Chelsea can come through. There’s nothing of them size-wise, but they’re both outstanding footballers. Same with Sadio Mane at Liverpool - fast as f**** - difficult to get a grip on. They’d be the type of players I’d find it tough to play against now, but I’d back myself to handle the ‘traditional’ centre forward.
I’d fancy my chances against Harry Kane and Tammy Abraham, but not Aguero - too small - or Vardy - too quick! The latter is leading the top scoring charts and could take the golden boot at the end of the season at 3/1.
If you're talking hard nuts, give me ‘Big Bad Billy’ Whitehurst over Roy Keane any day. On and off the pitch, Billy was different class.
To the honest Roy didn't make a lot of noise when I played him - I don't really remember a tackle. A fantastic footballer, yes, and a man I like and respect, but I’d have him well below Billy in the pecking order, and below Steve McMahon and Bryan Robson too.
They were tough lads Stevie and Robbo. Why d’you think I needed to nail Stevie so early in the FA Cup Final? I couldn't have him and the boys in the white suits getting one over us - alright the John Travolta look was a few years later - but you know what I mean.
Robbo played 90 times for England, so he could play football - and some. He’s probably one of the best midfielders there’s ever been - he never ducked a tackle, could go head to head with anyone, but still created and scored goals. An all-round genius.
Billy might not have been in Bryan Robson’s class as a footballer - I’m not sure many are - but what a man. He wasn't for the faint-hearted and, if he was playing today, the suits at the FA might be getting their knickers in a twist about his antics.
Billy is a tough-as-teak Yorkshireman, born and bred in South Yorkshire, and is still loved at Sheffield United. They talk about Yorkshire grit, well Billy put the G-R-I-T in that.
He got around did Billy and played for a few other clubs, including Hull, where he had a couple of spells, and Doncaster. But he was at Sheffield United when I was there, so it was fun around town with him - especially if we came across some Wednesday fans!
He cleared out a pub of them once. You see, Billy could have been a bare-knuckle champion and I’m pretty sure had some bare-knuckle fights - maybe Guy Ritchie should have got him to be Brad’s stunt double in Snatch, eh Billy?!
When I put together Vinnie’s Hard Men XI a few weeks back, Billy was up front alongside Fash and ‘Big Dunc’. Fashanu, Ferguson and Whitehurst is a forward line to put the fear of god in any defender - once you’d dragged them out of the toilet to play!
I had Graeme Souness and Jimmy Case in the midfield with me, with Bryan Robson ready to come on - maybe with David Batty, Terry Hurlock and Macca.
Keano doesn't even make the bench, but he’d definitely be in the commentary box. He pulls no punches there and I love the way he keeps everyone on their toes. They don't know what he’ll say next - they’re sh**-scared of him and I love it.
On to the horses, hope you followed me in with Love in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas at Newmarket - I loved roaring her home! She’ll win the Oaks now.
I was actually at Newmarket on Tuesday and watched the gallops on Warren Hill - socially distanced and masked-up, of course. That really is a special place, a real buzz seeing the strings of horses being put through their paces just as the sun’s coming up. Magic.
Fair play. Horse racing - and the dogs - have got their act together and are keeping the show on the road. I’m sure racing fans wanted to be at Newmarket over the weekend, but hopefully things will start opening up soon.
At least we’ve got the Premier League to look forward to. It all starts on June 17 - so catch me next week when I’ll be looking at the first batch of matches.
Have a good week, keep safe - and if you see my old mate Billy around, duck!
It’s been emotional.