An all night revelry by a group of British footballers dressed as thong-wearing nuns landed them in a police cell in a holiday resort in Greece.
They are current and former players for Hanham Athletic and Hanham Sunday league team, based in Bristol and in the 18-65 age group. They perhaps thought it would be a laugh to get togged up as a bunch of nuns and freaking out, but angry locals thought otherwise and called up the police. They were all driven to a police station and charged with exposing themselves and offending religious symbols.
AdvertisementThey had to cool their heels for nearly two days in a cell, an experience they described as nightmarish later.
The stag party and the backlash took place early this week in Malia on the island of Crete, a resort notorious for rowdy and drunken behaviour during the summer.
One officer said: "They were dressed like nuns, carrying crosses, but wearing thongs under their skirts and showing people their bottoms and the rest."
"I told you the cops would be nun too pleased if we wore this clobber," one of the group was heard muttering as they were into a court in Heraklion, handcuffed in pairs.
They were seen sporting the same black dresses, homemade habits, garter belts and thongs that had caught the attention of Cretan police in the early hours of Sunday.
They were charged with "scandal and misrepresentation of a costume or uniform" but were released when no one showed up to testify their behaviour was offensive, according to the Foreign Office. "The charges were dropped this morning, and the group are not yet back in the UK. We provided consular assistance," a spokeswoman said.
After the release, Mick Underhill, Chairman The chairman of the Bristol football club described the experience as one the team "will never forget".
Speaking from a bar in Malia, now a free man, Mr Underhill, 59, told the Press Association: "The last 48 hours have just been unbelievable. It's no doubt something we will never forget.
"The prison facilities were horrendous. You wouldn't let the dog use the toilets in there. There was graffiti all over the walls. We were all squeezed into one cell with eight concrete beds - and we had to buy food if we wanted to eat.
"Fortunately we were eventually put in touch with the British embassy, who were brilliant. The hotel staff and Thomas Cook, the tour operators, were great as well."
The men were taking part in the Hanham Sunday Tour, an annual trip started in the sixties by the Sunday league team, which now plays in the Bristol Sunday League Premier division.
In previous years the men have dressed up as St Trinian's schoolgirls in Portugal and babies in Cyprus - but have never experienced any trouble before.
The men had not finished their first drink of the night when they were thrown into the back of a "riot" van, Mr Underhill said.
"We have a couple of drinks, and then we parade around the street in costume for one night of the holiday," Mr Underhill said.
Britons account for about 15% of the 15 million tourists who visit Greece every year and some have gained notoriety for drunken and occasionally violent behaviour. In 2007, Malia residents staged a march against British tourists.