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Monday, January 21, 2019 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

A solitary sportsman

By Mike Gaunt

I’m not a particularly sporty person, I admit. At least as far as team sports go, that is. I’m very much a solitary sportsman. I dallied briefly with rugby at boarding school, but I was (still am) quite slight and even the positions of scrum half or fly half were unsuitable. I was, however, quite good at cross country. Something about the rhythmic plodding and the idea of competing against yourself, even though there were others involved, appealed.

I was involved in team cross country for a while and I sort of coped with it, but, as I say, for me, it really was the loneliness of the long-distance runner. I eventually graduated to half marathons and marathons and only really stopped when the children were small: it was just too anti-social. I’d get in from work and then go and then get changed, do 10 miles and then shower, by which time they were off to bed, and I’d hardly seen them, never mind helped in any way.

I have always admired people who are really involved in team sports, though. Such a lot of camaraderie seems to stem from it. When I watch football or rugby on the telly, I’m always struck by two things: the team spirit and the advertising. One I find quite uplifting and the other, either banal or just amusing.

My favourite is the sponsorship which is provided by a company which manufacture glasses. I don’t mean the beverage containers; I’m talking about the optical aids. You know the company and the product, I’m sure. The slogan suggests that someone should have gone to them.

Certainly, the group of sportsmen who wear the logo so proudly enjoy a wonderful sense of humour. According to many fans, they often fail to see the game which is being played right in front of them with any clarity. I refer of course, to football and rugby league referees. They are proud recipients of the sponsorship from Specsavers. What an inspired advertising campaign! To sponsor the very people who are asked, sarcastically, by thousands, each week, if they need new specs, or if they need a pair, is just marvellous!

Advertising slogans can be really effective, can’t they? I still remember jingles, catch-phrases and slogans from years ago. I wonder if you can remember that a double diamond worked wonders? Can you recall that a certain product could clean a big, big carpet, for less than half a crown? And for the ladies, do you remember which twin has the Toni? There are loads more, of course, and we will all have our favourites.

Nowadays, one of my favourites is the series of Specsavers advertisements, with unlikely scenarios enfolding and making us all chuckle, ending with the suggestion that the hapless victim of circumstance should have visited the shop. Maybe that’s why the ironic sponsorship of referees is so appealing to my quirky sense of humour.

I challenge anyone of a certain age to not be able to sing along to the ‘milky bar’ theme. And don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins in the Cinzano adverts! They’re great because they stick in our minds.

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