Robin Scott-Elliot: Treble Irn-Brus all round as real men do battle in Ayr
View From The Sofa: Scottish League, UEFA Cup Final, BBC Alba/ITV4
Monday 25 May 2009
I've never really grasped how advertising works. Which is probably why I'm perched on a lumpy sofa instead of sprawling on a chaise longue sipping Irn-Bru cocktails while liberally applying Nivea for Men. Would you buy either on the strength of their backing the Uefa Cup final or the Scottish League? Or is that not the point of sponsorship, and I'm already adding face cream and rust-coloured fizzy drink to my subliminal shopping list: the Moisturising Candidate.
It should not be too much of a Bank Holiday challenge to work out which product went where, although Irn-Bru is, I believe, something of an international brand these days, which is good news for dentists everywhere, the Scottish diaspora and, in particular, dentists embedded among the Scottish diaspora. As for Nivea, did they phone ITV... "Hello we want to sponsor a programme. Got anything with Ant and Dec in it?" "No, but we've got the Uefa Cup final with Peter Drury." "We'll take it."
With the last grains of the football season sliding through Sepp Blatter's giant egg timer, or something like that, you can't afford to miss a single game; cue an evening flicking between Ayr playing Airdrie for a place in the Scottish First Division and the last Uefa Cup final, or history in the making according to the arch-enthusiast Drury.
A bottle of Irn-Bru contains 29 per cent of your RDA of sugar, according to their own website, and it looked like all 22 players at Somerset Park had downed trebles. The game plan was to run around as quickly as possible and kick anything that moved; if that was the ball, fine, but an opponent would do even better. It was the land that football forgot. Then up popped Peter Latchford, the goalkeeper England forgot, to solve one of the great mysteries for West Bromwich Albion fans everywhere: whatever happened to Peter Latchford? He's the goalkeeping coach at Queen of the South (insert your own Scottish goalie joke here) and pitchside pundit for BBC Alba.
The BBC's Gaelic channel may actually have more live football than their cousins down south, and they definitely have a more prominent female presence than Match of the Day.
Sarah Cruickshank is Alba's Gary Lineker, while there is also a female Garth Crooks but their website's in Gaelic so I've no idea who she is. The channel is funded by the taxpayer, which annoys some (ie the English) given its scarcity of viewers but at least they haven't built a house for their ducks with the cash.
All of which didn't distract the players from the happy task of putting the boot in, while over in Istanbul Fritz was getting a good kicking too, and you have to say Torsten Frings ain't what he used to be (it's a Bank Holiday – The Independent joke writer's off).
ITV boldly scheduled a 45-minute build-up to Werder Bremen against Shakhtar Donetsk, and then, somewhat less boldly, spent most of it talking about how English teams had fared in the competition. Or rather Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink spent most of it rambling with words. By the time conversation switched to the game itself, there was no stopping him. "Germans," said JFH, and puffed his chest out. "Real men." He could only mean one thing. Real men don't moisturise. Or do they?
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