How Joe Cole ran out of luck on Ace of Spades road

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The evocatively named Ace of Spades roundabout is a bleak confluence of asphalt and road signs, but for the authorities who enforce the variable speed limits on this stretch of the A3 in Surrey, the streets may as well be paved with gold.

Joe Cole yesterday joined a growing list of sportsmen and celebrities to run out of luck as they're caught zipping along a road that boasts a remarkable record in snaring the rich and famous.

The England and Liverpool midfielder was found guilty of driving his Audi A4 at 105mph in a 70mph zone on the A3 in November last year. He faces a driving ban and must pay £600 in costs.

The same stretch, which bypasses Esher to its left as it winds from junction 10 of the M25 for around 18 miles into London, from Wisley to Wandsworth, has been the scene of several notable speeding cases in the past decade.

At the most notorious stretch, the Ace of Spades junction in Hook, where three lanes narrow down to two, the speed limit drops from 70mph to 50mph, and a speed camera lurks to catch the unwary driver. It has issued almost 13,000 tickets in three years, which works out at nearly 12 a day.

The final straight approaching the bottleneck offers a sneak peak of the giant arch at the Wembley Stadium, which looms over the horizon for several seconds. The arch is a relatively recent addition to the skyline, as are the scores of footballers' cars that cruise up and down the A3 since Chelsea moved their training ground four years ago to its current home just off the A3 in Stoke D'Abernon near Cobham in Surrey.

Most of the current Chelsea squad, including John Terry and Didier Drogba, live in Oxshott, near the training ground, and so drive up the road for trips into London. Others, such as Frank Lampard, and Joe Cole at the time of his offence, have chosen to stay in the city and drive down to Surrey for training.

Cole's England team-mate Ashley Cole was convicted in January of speeding on a nearby section of the A3, where the speed limit is 50mph. He was banned for four months and had to pay £950 in costs after he was caught driving his black Lamborghini Gallardo at 104mph. The Chelsea left-back had told police who arrested him that he had been trying to get away from chasing photographers. Ashley Cole denied speeding and claimed the officers' speed gun was not working properly, but the argument was rejected.

The Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has also been caught speeding on the A3. The golfer used to live in Oxshott and last year admitted doing 70mph in a 40mph zone in Kingston.

Perhaps the most celebrated case of speeding on this celebrity rat run involved Chris Evans, who was banned from driving for 56 days after he admitted driving his silver Ferrari Maranello at 105mph in a 70mph zone in 2001.