’I tell you what, sir,’ Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper’s Mark Wnek says in
his best Paul Whitehouse, ’I’m not sure we should go. Apparently, the
Italian police are beating up English fans. The Italian agency thinks
we’re ab-so-lute-ly mad to go.’
Not an auspicious start to Wnek Tours’ visit to the crucial England
match in Rome. Campaign’s editor had jumped at the year’s hottest
corporate hospitality opportunity. And, to be honest, the Campaign
office thought Wnek a big girl’s blouse for suggesting it.
Of course, Mark has had experience of Wnek Tours before. Perhaps he knew
the party, including the Peugeot account director and Keith Chegwin
lookalike, Gary Lace, but not Wnek’s current and future partners, Brett
Gosper and Tiger Savage, would be staying in Fiuggi (think of Tonbridge
Wells) some 50 miles from Rome.
Perhaps he knew it would take a couple of hours to get there by coach
and that dreams of steaming pasta and Chianti would be dashed by a half-
hour turnaround period before setting off at 5.30pm for an 8.45pm kick-
Wnek acquaintances will marvel at his lasting three hours (sic!)
travelling 50 miles with one fag, and that enjoyed in the charming
open-air toilet facilities by the side of the autostrada.
The terrifying crush and police violence at Gate 16 at the Stadio
Olimpico defies Diary page quips. Let’s just say the editor lost his
companions, his breath, his favourite belt and a few pounds in sweat -
but kept his ticket.
Wnek lost something more serious: his eyes. He has bad eyesight, so was
relying on messrs Hatfield and Lace to commentate for him in a Coca-Cola
After 20 minutes of not knowing where the next baton charge was coming
from, let alone the next corner, Wnek retreated. He watched the rest of
the first half on TV in a BT van and the second on coaches with the
Perhaps Wnek didn’t fancy his own itinerary’s two hours spent studying
the stadium architecture after the final whistle, or the Carabinieri’s
parting baton charges. How the group laughed as they got back to their
hotel at 2.15am.
Belatedly remembering he was a schmoozy adman, Wnek bribed his party the
next day with prosciutto, parmesan and other goodies. It was only when
they got home that they realised the stuff was past its sell-by
Just when the group thought it was over, it sat behind Stan Bowles and
Alan Hudson on the plane home, and awaited their promised on-board
Instead, the legendary duo ordered drinks and bantered with the
Come to think of it, that is their routine. Um, thanks, Mark.