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To sponsor or not to sponsor – that is the question

My assistant Norman mentioned that our local football team, the Wanderers, were looking for a new sponsor for next season after the pet-shop next to the funeral parlour dropped out.

Apparently it was found that having “Winalot” on the club shirts violated the Trades Descriptions Act.

Norman’s been very keen that the shop should sponsor someone or something ever since he read that sponsorship gets the best publicity return for the least outlay, even if it’s something crack-brained like end-of-the-pier birdman contests, cheese-rolling competitions or covering yourself in tomato ketchup.

Norman makes no secret of the fact that he pines for the days when he was Accrington Stanley’s deputy reserve reserve goalkeeper for half a season until his hamstrings gave out and still misses the smell of liniment and sucked oranges at half-time and being told by the manager that he was useless.

The truth is, he’d love to be involved with a football team again, even if it’s one as bad as the Wanderers, which lasted a season in the Evo-Stik league bottom division and hasn’t been remotely near getting back there ever since.

I’m not surprised. The last time I went to a Wanderers match the man in front of me at the turnstile handed over a £20 note and said: “Two please,” to which the turnstile operator replied:”Do you want defenders or strikers?”
Ominously, the home supporters were soon singing:”It’s five past three and we’re losing” and the Wanderers went down 5-0 to a team containing two players over 45 and a striker who parked his car in the disability bay.

Near the end of the match, an official grabbed two youngsters who were climbing over a wall at the back of the stand and told them: ” I know how you feel, but you’ll stay here until the final whistle like everyone else.”

Certainly success has eluded the Wanderers of late and when the ground was broken into and the entire contents of the trophy-room stolen, police were looking for a man with a piece of blue carpet.

Silverware had been in short supply for so long that it gave rise to the rumour that they were thinking of planting potatoes around the edge of the pitch so at least there would be something to lift at the end of the season.

And when a new goalkeeper arrived from Gateshead Reserves, supporters were soon asking what was the difference between the goalie and a taxi-driver. The answer:the taxi-driver will only let four in.

Norman apparently watched some pre-season training and had to admit that there could be room for improvement. He said that when the players dribbled the ball around cones on the practice ground, the cones won 3-0.

None of which made me feel particularly confident that sponsoring the Wanderers would be a good idea and when Norman persuaded me to go to a meeting for potential sponsors it seemed that most people felt the same.

Before the meeting, a chap who ran a fitness studio and who kept going out for a smoke, said he had heard that when the manager was caught speeding and told he would get three points on his licence he replied:”Any chance of giving them to the club? At least it would get us off the bottom of the table.”

Mr Ling, from the Thai takeaway, mentioned that there was a tale going round that when the manager was crossing a supermarket car-park he saw an old lady struggling with a shopping trolley and asked “Can you manage, my dear?” to which she replied:”You got yourself into this mess. Don’t ask me to sort it out.”

The general feeling was that the manager, who had an illustrious history of transforming relatively successful clubs into relegation candidates, was already in line to get the OBE (Out Before Easter) from the Wanderers before you could say Alan Pardew or even Mark Hughes.

In the meantime, there was a rumour that he was planning to give the team diving lessons on the grounds that if there were 20,000 leagues under the sea, the Wanderers might stand a chance of winning one of them.

Old Mr Mortiboys, who runs the secondhand shop, was at the meeting because he has supported the Wanderers since the days when footballers earned £12 a week and ate sausage-and- chips and a dish of bread pudding before the match, washed down with a pint of Tizer.

But even he had become so disillusioned that he took his season ticket to the ground and stuck it on the gate with a drawing-pin, with a note saying anyone was welcome to it.

“Later I had second thoughts and went back to get the ticket,” Mr Mortiboys said.” It was still there, but someone had taken the drawing-pin.”

You may be relieved to know we’ve decided against sponsoring the Wanderers, and Norman has fixed up a meeting with a chap who plans to enter the forthcoming end-of-the pier birdman championships. With a bit of luck, our shop logo should fit nicely on his beak.

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