Pertinent to our recent discussions about Britain’s weekend city centre issues, I came across this interview feature in the April issue of Kick Off! – the UK’s top-selling binge-drinking magazine – and I thought I’d share it with you.
A pint and six shots with…. Jase Rooney
Every month Kick Off! shares a pint and six shots with one the brightest stars of Britain’s binge-drinking scene. This time it’s the turn of Jason ‘Jase’ Rooney to down the legendary drinks. Rooney, 24, is one of Manchester's most respected bother-starters, and has also represented England in Spain, Portugal and, most famously, Crete’s notoriously difficult Malia resort.
Kick Off!: Ok, Jase, here’s your ‘Pint Question’ for openers. What’s been your favourite moment in your bingeing career so far?
Jase Rooney: I thought you said the first one was always easy! Gosh, you know, there’s been so many. Obviously the one everyone always talks about was the night in Malia when I put away thirteen pints and the ‘fishbowl’ cocktails and then took on a busload of Scousers...well you know the rest.
Of course that night made my name and gets in all the lists and the compilation shows but, you know, Manchester is where my heart is so I’d have to say my favourite moment was my debut on Deansgate in 2002. I was seventeen, which these days is actually quite late to start proper bingeing. Well, I’d just about made it through the night when a guy in the taxi queue smacked my kebab out my hand and landed me a beauty right on the jawbone. I’ll never forget it. From that moment on I knew that this was what I wanted to do and, thank God, I’ve been blessed. I’m eternally grateful to that bloke...Phew, what a right hook! Massive respect.
KO: Thanks Jase, the pint went down nicely. Now here’s your first shot. In interviews and in your column for The Sunday Telegraph you’ve often cited your father Keith as the biggest influence on your bingeing career. Tell us more about him.
JR: Most definitely. I suppose Dad was one of the pioneers of binge-drinking as we know it. He used to do the old Working Men’s clubs back in the seventies – you know: Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale. In fact he was the first man in Rochdale to down ten pints of mild and ten babyshams in ten minutes and then vomit in a policeman’s helmet. Yeah, they named a trophy after him and try to recreate it every year. Not a lot of people know that! [laughs] Of course, it was very different in those days – they didn’t have the light lagers, the late opening hours and above all the training that we have these days. I mean, I’m in the gym all week working just for those few hours on a Saturday night. Nowadays we know a lot more about looking after our bodies. Dad didn’t have all that but he definitely had the talent and if he was drinking now he’d be one of the top boys, no problem.
KO: But did your father help you specifically with learning the binge-drinking ropes?
JR: Oh yeah, he was brilliant with us kids. He used to take me and my brother [Shane – now 22 and a respected binge-er in his own right] into the backyard, give us twenty cans of Tizer to down and then show us how to do basic lunges, shoves and swearing. We used to practice on the cat! Obviously Shane’s boozing in the lower leagues at the moment [Shane lives and binges in Hartlepool] but Dad still looks on us both the same. My drinking in Manchester and the international stuff makes no difference to Dad! It’s great for keeping my feet on the ground and they always take the mickey out of me at Christmas!
KO: And are there any particular tips that you would pass on to youngsters hoping to make the grade as top-rank binge-ers?
JR: The biggest thing I’d say to any kid trying to break into the game is: Believe. The techniques, the tactical side of it, all that will come. Most of all you’ve got to want it, and you’ve got to believe in yourself. And it does mean making sacrifices. That salad in your burger? You may want it now but you’ve got to force yourself to throw it on the street, even from an early age. No top binge-drinker ever ate the lettuce out of his kebab. Remember the old adage: if you have a salad, make sure it’s tossed!
KO: Simon Barnes of The Times once said of you: “Jase Rooney could start a fight if he was alone with a dead Gandhi in a library.” Fair comment?
JR: [laughs] Yeah, I actually phoned Barnesy and thanked him for that one. I don’t know, I guess the fighting bit is what’s made my name, so yeah, there is something in it. Plenty of good binge-ers can do the drinking and puking parts but struggle with the technical side of the scrapping. It’s all about good eye-contact and timing. It’s about picking the optimum moment and if you get that right then even a basic move like “Whatchoo looking at you fkn’ twat?” can get you in there…bang!
KO: You famously use your status as one of the country’s top drinkers to do charity work, most recently Nuts magazine’s testicular cancer awareness campaign “Grab your Nuts for Nuts”, for which you posed nude. Is this something that’s important to you?
JR: Of course. I don’t generally like to talk about it, but yeah, bingeing’s been very good to me and I think it’s important to give something back. Actually I’m doing the London Marathon soon, in aid of books for schools. It’s a joint sponsorship by Fosters lager and the Times Literary Supplement. Me and ten of my mates are running it together in long-sleeve shirts, black Top Man trousers and smart shoes. At every drinks station we have to down a pint and a shot, then at the end we’re having a mass brawl in Trafalgar Square. Anyone’s welcome to join in, and if I can just do a quick plug you can see all about it at
KO: OK, Jase, here’s your sixth and last shot. You’re at the peak of your game now, but at some point you’re going to have to retire. Have you made any plans for when the time comes to hang up the Ben Sherman shirt?
JR: Yeah, thanks for bringing that up! [laughs] No, obviously you can’t hide from it – the fact is, our bingeing careers are short and then you’ve got to move on and get on with life. I don’t want to be one of those old boys who’s still going into town at 35, pretending he’s 25. That’s just tragic in my book. But I like to think I’ll stay in the game somehow, even if it’s just some gentle alcoholism and verbal abuse down at the local pub – and of course I’ve got the Telegraph column and there’s my books…
KO: Well done for mentioning the book – don’t worry you’ll get your plug! Almost done, but before we call it a night and grab the taxis, here’s your bonus 'Kebab Question'. With the Olympics coming to London in 2012, there is some talk of trying to get binge-drinking recognised as an official Olympic sport. Where do you stand on that, and above all, would you captain the Great Britain side if asked?
JR: Captain? Now you really are taking the mickey! [laughs] No, I don’t know about all that. I think maybe it’s a bit early for bingeing to be in the Olympics. The fact is that the home nations are way ahead when it comes to bingeing so it would be a bit uncompetitive, like when they introduced basketball so the Americans could enter the Dream Team. Having said that, the Aussies will probably beat us at our own game, they usually do! As for me being captain, of course that’s up to the powers that be. I’d be proud just to be representing my country…that’ll do nicely for me. I’m just a kid from Manchester!
KO: Oh I don’t know about that, but thanks Jase.
JR: Any time, it’s been a pleasure.
Jason Rooney’s second autobiography ‘Puking in the Gutter…But Looking at the Stars’ is out on Monday. 'Crash Bang Vomit!' a binge-drinking bloopers DVD co-presented by Rooney and Germaine Greer, will be released in time for Christmas.