Keeper goes all Damien ‘Geoff’ Hirst
Footballers hobbies are usually getting them into trouble and into the papers, but it is very rare that the offending past-time is art. Yet Derby County goalkeeper Stephen Bywater has caused outrage among neighbours after erecting an erotic art installation in his garden.
Bywater claims the sculpture, featuring a blow-up doll, a sex toy, mattresses, a portable toilet and a graffiti-covered horsebox, is a ‘masterpiece’.
However, neighbours in the sleepy hamlet of Sutton on the Hill where he resides are said to be raging that their tranquil village scene has been tainted by Bywater’s Tracey Emin-inspired efforts. They allege that the artwork is the latest in a long line of bullying tactics in an attempt to force them to sell land at the rear of their property to Bywater.
True to form, the Daily Mirror goes one step too far, quoting an elderly neighbour, on holiday at the time, as saying: “Our neighbours sent us pictures to show us what he had done and my wife didn’t want to come home.”
Really? You considered permanent emigration, leaving all of your possessions at home, because of this attempt at modern art?
Bywater said: “Although I consider this a private issue, I would like to apologise to any supporters and local residents in Derbyshire who have been offended.
“It was and is still my view that my actions were made as a private citizen and are in no way linked to Derby County Football Club.
“However, now it has been brought into the public domain, I acknowledge that this does not reflect well on me as a professional or the club in general.
“I am one of the club’s longest serving players and therefore I, better than anyone, appreciate the responsibilities that come with representing Derby County, both on and off the pitch.
“Although I am disappointed this private matter has become a public issue, I have now taken action to remove from view the items which have caused offence to local residents.
“I apologize again if my actions have in anyway damaged my reputation or the reputation of the club.”
In a statement, Derby County FC said: “The club was made aware of the issue through a third party and has been in dialogue with Stephen about it and the perceptions that may arise from it.
“We have also been in contact with his neighbours regarding his actions.
“This is not the type of conduct we expect from one of our employees.”
Bywater has now covered his artwork with tarpaulin before removing the objects from the garden. Silly boy Stephen, go inside and build a house out of Lego like the rest of the squad.