7pm So this is it. I’ve been summoned to GWR’s screening of England
versus Romania at Bar Logic. I’ve arranged to meet an ex-colleague,
sponsorship executive Julian Rigamonti.
7.25pm No sign of either Classic FM stalwart Henry Kelly or GWR sales
staff. I console myself with a couple of pints of lager. There is a
discernible buzz of nerves as we gather round the screens.
7.45pm Kick-off I’ve lined up my pints and I’m not moving until half
time. I pray that the presence of Media Business deputy editor Lexie
Goddard in Charleroi will be a good omen. She has gone to Belgium with
Sportal’s sales folk to sort out the hooligans ...
Half time, Charleroi stadium Michael Owen has just scored what looked
glaringly like an offside goal (I thought girls didn’t understand the
offside rule - ed) but hey, the ref is happy so we start singing the
theme from the Great Escape for the fiftieth time.
Three and a bit minutes to go Sportal’s head of communications Mark
Thursfield - a non smoker - is puffing away on his umpteenth ciggie. If
we can just hang in there ...
Two minutes later Shit. Jaws have dropped and heads are in hands.
11.30pm We amble back to the Sportal hospitality area. Simon Denyer,
head of pan-European sales, clutches his pint and watches a rerun of the
game surrounded by brooding agency reps.
Mona Karraoui, Sportal’s sassy senior sales executive, cheers things up
by sidling up to sporting hero Daley Thompson and giving him a little
cuddle - just for the camera, you understand.
12.30am We climb on the coach and trundle back to Brussels in silence as
chants of ’We’re shit and we know we are’ fade into the Belgian night.