DIARY: NMA takes its eye off the ball with a picture taken very early doors

Hot on the heels of the Newspaper Marketing Agency's failed attempt to cobble together a Rugby World Cup package comes its latest initiative - a glossy insert promoting advertising in newspaper sports sections.

In the foreword to the On the Ball supplement, Maureen Duffy, the chief executive of the NMA, gushes: "Sport is a driving force in men's lives and unites very disparate groups of people - men of different ages, values, politics, occupations and ambitions. Our Sporting Passions research highlighted the central role the back pages play in men's enjoyment of sports and the huge amount of time they devote to them."

Indeed they do Maureen. So you'd think the NMA might have put some passion into its own publication. A glance at the back page of On the Ball reveals hardly the most up-to-date picture.

It shows the disgraced former Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar (who left Liverpool in 1994) playing in a match against Ipswich . Also clearly visible is Steve McManaman sporting a coiffure that wouldn't look out of place on some members of Depeche Mode.

Quite why the NMA chose a picture of this vintage is a mystery - perhaps it should have trawled back further still and got a nice photo of Terry McDermott, Kevin Keegan, Frank Worthington and John Wark wearing 70s perms, moustaches and tight shorts. On the ball? Hardly.

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