Football: The Gaffer Tapes - Ronaldo guaranteed to go round to your place

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The Independent Online
HONESTLY some people do try it on. On my way to Old Trafford to take in a game last week I was handed a flyer. "Where Can I get World Cup tickets?" it trumpeted. It then promised that this was an organisation run by "real fans" ("so why were they advertising at Old Trafford?" I hear you ask - "perhaps because they were looking for naive but well-heeled bandwagon- jumpers?" I hear you reply) and that it had "found a way of obtaining tickets". Hurrah. Except you had to send pounds 3 for a brochure. Nice one.

But never fear. After long and intensive negotiations in Switzerland this week Gaffer Tours can announce a series of packages for the summer extravaganza. There are four options, all graded by accommodation and attractively named after famous names in World Cup history. The Pele (five-star with champagne in the room), the Michel Platini (four-star with Cognac), the Paul Gascoigne (two-star and a case of Newcastle Brown) and the Willie Johnston (camping and bottle of Pils)*.

Each moderately priced package includes VIP match tickets to a series of major matches including all games featuring England, Brazil and Scotland** and travel appropriate to the standard of package (plane; train; automobile***; series of pre-written luxury hitchhiking destination cards).

Supplementary options include personal meetings with World Cup personalities Alan Shearer, Faustino Asprilla, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo in which the player will coach you and your family, pose for photographs, promise to sneak your name into a TV interview and, after the finals, come round your house for tea so you can impress the neighbours****.

Each tour group will be accompanied by several stunning blondes personally selected from the Hall & Shepherd collection. Ladies wishing to have male company should enclose a photograph.

Needless to say I expect these tours to sell out very quickly indeed. Don't delay or be fobbed off by imitations or scare-stories about ticket scams. Send a cheque/postal order/cash/stamps/granny's wedding ring worth pounds 10 or more to Gaffer Tours plc, c/o Barry Gaffer, Sludgethorpe Brazil FC, Old Cornfield, Sludgethorpe, URA F001. Or pay by credit card to Freefone Gaffer.

The first 127 applications will receive a free Sludgethorpe Brazil 1998 calender featuring the first team squad in a series of compromising positions.

I'm sure the tours will be a great success and, judging by the level of my alimony debts, they need to be. I could barely afford to buy a drink in Switzerland this week which was a shame as the game would have been a lot more enjoyable through an alcoholic haze.

Berne itself was all right though I thought they wasted the bears. These are a group of big brown bears which are sadly kept in a miserable concrete pit by the edge of the old town. Apparently if they leave the city, Berne will fall down so so they are not given much chance of escape.

Their situation seemed very demeaning to such noble beasts and I thought they would be much better employed as club mascots. Never mind all these idiots in furry costumes, why not the real thing? It would certainly reduce the risk of a pitch invasion and some of those other mascots, the snotty brats who run around before the game annoying the players, could do with a fright.

Anyway, I signed a couple on loan this week. I was going to parade them at the Old Cornfield today but instead I'm keeping them under wraps at the chairman's farm while I see if Sky TV go for my latest plan. It's a mascot competition, a cross between wrestling and gladiators. The idea is is we pit our mascot against characters like Stamford the Lion from Chelsea and Manchester United's Fred the Red. It'll be a massive audience puller and I reckon Yogi and Paddington could be quite a handful. If Sky don't go for it maybe Live TV will - after all, our bears are topless.

Shaun Prone's out this week, he was badly mauled playing with Yogi. Ivor Niggle's also missing, he got severely stung by bees on a honey-hunting expedition.

*Gaffer Tours Plc would like to point out the use of the names Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Gascoigne and Willie Johnston in no way constitutes approval or even knowledge of these tours by the individuals named. But we will get round to telling them, honest. **The management reserves the right to substitute aforesaid games with Chile v Cameroon, Japan v Croatia, South Africa v Saudi Arabia, Mexico v South Korea and Nigeria v Paraguay. ***The automobile will be a local classic model Citroen 2CV (diesel). ****The management reserves the right to substitute Messrs Shearer, Asprilla, Zidane or Ronaldo at any time with similar personalities from Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Paraguay. Messrs Shearer, Asprilla, Zidane and Ronaldo are in no way connected with, or have even heard of, the management of Gaffer Tours Plc.

No refunds or correspondence will be entered into. Gaffer Tours is not bonded or linked to Abta or Iata as that is for cattle on package tours not dedicated football fans like you and us. You can trust the Gaffer, his word is his bond.