In the days when footballers were mere mortals rather than
glove-wearing good-time boys with salaries to match the Colombian
national debt, autograph-hunting kids used to wait outside stadium gates
Times change, even if hero-worship doesn't. No waiting outside for
Blake's Seven, the club for well-heeled media industry types established
by David Kershaw, the M&C Saatchi founding partner, and Martin Bowley,
the chief executive of Granada TV Sales.
Instead, the Blake boys and girls were whisked up to Arsenal's training
ground at Shenley, Hertfordshire, to watch the Premiership title
hopefuls work up a sweat before enjoying a relaxed lunch with the
manager, Arsene Wenger, and the club chairman, David Dein.
Alas, it all turned into a crushing disappointment for Marc Sands, The
Guardian's marketing director. Having painstakingly lined up two of
Highbury's finest - Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires - for a picture with
himself, his Polaroid camera stubbornly refused to work.
"He was a bit miffed," a bystander remarked. Jason Nisse, The
Independent on Sunday's City editor, couldn't contain his schadenfreude
though. "Another Guardian scoop missed," he gloated.
At lunch, Jim Hytner, ITV's marketing director and an avid Manchester
United fan, declared his true colours by confessing to be on a spying
mission on Sir Alex's behalf.
It was clearly a painful experience for Hytner. His memory is still
fresh with the goalkeeping howlers of United's Fabien Barthez who gifted
Arsenal a 3-1 win in November.
As a result, the French international was exiled to the stiffs for an
indefinite period and offered a contract to advertise Tesco's butter,
his performance having marked him out as "the ultimate
So what was Hytner able to report back to Fergie? Many things, he
confessed - including goalkeepers actually being taught to make saves!