26 September ~ "Only God can judge me" was the handwritten message on Garry O'Connor's T-shirt, which he revealed after scoring for Hibernian against Dunfermline on September 17. Defiant? Attention seeking? Trying out a slogan for a new tattoo? Whatever O'Connor's reasons for displaying his vest, one thing it could not be described as is accurate, as the Scottish judiciary is about to judge him in upcoming cases of drug possession and insurance fraud. In April O'Connor drove his £100,000 Ferrari Spider F1 into a railway bridge in East Lothian, initially claiming a friend was at the wheel, and has since been charged with fraud over a claim for the written-off car.

The following month he was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and running from the police officers who attempted to arrest him. These events do not paint a picture of a big-time glamorous footballer, but rather of a young man given too much money too soon who hasn't been able to deal with it. O'Connor is not the only member of his family to struggle with drugs; his sister has had well-publicised addiction problems.

Considering his fragility, some would question the wisdom of Channel 4's Dispatches programme's recent revelation he was banned for two months while at Birmingham City for testing positive for cocaine. It is not clear how this disclosure is in the public interest – I don't remember any anti-drugs campaigns led by O'Connor which could leave him open to charges of hypocrisy.

Prior to the T-shirt display against Dunfermline O'Connor had shown his desire to change. He has said he would stop driving his sports cars in exchange for a more sedate Bentley and got rid of his neck tattoos – perhaps he believes by changing the public appearance the man inside will change.

However both of the alleged offences happened immediately after he found out his contract with Barnsley was being terminated. It is possible that being sacked knocked his self-esteem and sent him out on a bender; hopefully the unwanted publicity of Dispatches won't have a similar effect. Meanwhile O'Connor's seven goals in nine appearances this season is either a sign of a fit, on-form player ignoring his non-footballing problems, or another example of the lack of quality in Scotland. Gordon Cairns

Comments (5)
Comment by markrpoole 2011-09-26 11:11:29

Big Garry's been playing brilliantly this season and should be in the Scotland squad. His off-field activities simply reinforce my opinion on the subject.

Cheers, Mark

Comment by Afrikaams 2011-09-26 11:27:36

Unlike the author I find it hard to have much sympathy with O'Connor.
That he's a good player, at SPL level at least, goes without saying, his form for a stuttering Hibs team has been excellent.
Unfortunately O'Connor seems to be another example of a Scottish footballer with 'all his brains in his feet'.

His offences are alleged, he's not been found guilty of either of them. However suggesting that loosing his job with Barnsley might be a mitigating factor is farcical. Whatever O'Connor's personal problems he is hardly on the breadline. Deciding to drive a Bentley rather than a 'sportscar' only further illustrates this. It does little to suggest some newly found humility either.

I'm not judging O'Connor, I'll leave that to God, but as a footballer he has squandered every chance he's been given and it is hard to have much sympathy with someone who will undoubtedly have expensive counsel advising on his behavior currently.

Comment by jonmid 2011-09-26 12:40:39

As Afrikaams said in his message O'connor is innocent until proven guilty but his message really was ill judged

Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-09-26 13:42:01

Quote: "Prior to the T-shirt display against Dunfermline O'Connor had shown his desire to change. He has said he would stop driving his sports cars in exchange for a more sedate Bentley, and got rid of his neck tattoos."

Priceless - absolutely priceless. Please Gary, don't ever change. You're like a caricature of a caricature. If you didn't exist, the press would have to make somebody like you up.

Comment by jertzeeAFCW 2011-09-27 11:34:29

More to the point, how was Dispatches disclosure of his drug offence NOT in the public interest??

The man has made his money because of the public and the fact that the authorities are hiding this info is also in the public interest.

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