"I don't think it is appropriate dress," the judge said. "And anyway I'm a Sunderland supporter."
This revelation caused outrage in the public gallery, where Lee's proud mum and friends were sitting. Stephenson ordered the court to be cleared after they started yelling "Mackem" (and other things) at him.
"The judge was well out of order," Mrs Drinkfield said afterwards. "The strip is a lot smarter than Lee's everyday wear."
The court fracas represented a rare opportunity for Sunderland supporters to get one over their considerably more successful neighbours, and doubtless Judge Stephenson will be welcomed at Roker Park, where you can imagine him bouncing down the terraces appropriately dressed in a red and white striped wig.
Indeed, such is the anxiety among Wearsiders to rubbish all things Magpie that also this week a supporter called Graeme Wallace launched a campaign to boycott Sugar Puffs. Presumably as a Sunderland fan his preferred sustenance at breakfast is All Bran (it goes rapidly down to the bottom). But Graeme's ire was provoked by those Sugar Puffs ads featuring Kevin Keegan and a large Faustino Asprilla wannabe dressed in a furry suit, The Honey Monster. Keegan can be seen coaching Monster (a player managed, one imagines, by Eric Hall), who, resplendent in black and white stripes nods the winning goal in the Cup final, sending Kev into Barry Fry-style hops of ecstasy.
Graeme has taken the commercial to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming there was nothing remotely truthful or honest in seeing it conclude with Keegan and Monster climbing the Wembley steps to receive the Cup. Which, he thundered, was impossible since every Sunderland fan knows Newcastle were knocked out of the Cup by Chelsea. As were Sunderland, knocked out at the same stage of the competition by Manchester United, but at least Graeme can comfort himself that it happened the week Peter Reid was engaged by Frosties to be filmed accompanying Tony the Tiger up the 39 steps.
Leaving aside the internecine complexities of this argument, many may be questioning what on earth Keegan is doing. There he is, going along happily, his team in the ascendant, hob-nobbing with Prime Ministers and the leader of the opposition and then he goes and spoils it all by participating in the most laughable advert to be screened since Pretty Polly suggested the only qualification required to be a nursery teacher is a cracking pair of legs. Perhaps WC Fields' warning wasn't specific enough for Wor Kev. Maybe his word of advice to all aspirant actors should have read: never work with animals, children or the Honey Monster. Whatever, Keegan ignored it and turned himself into an embarrassment for Newcastle fans everywhere.
Sadly, Kev has previous in this department. Remember those commercials in the Seventies when a Shirley Temple-permed Keegan bounced up alongside big, burly Henry Cooper and urged us to splash it all over? "It's like a good rub down," said the then Liverpool star of the after-shave he was endorsing. No it wasn't. It was like squirting a thimble full of cat's urine on your skin. "What's that you're wearing?" I remember a girl asking me back then. "Well Kevin Keegan wears it," I said. "Well he must stink and all," she replied.
On close inspection, most footballers' brush with advertising is a sorry affair: Gazza blubbing over Lineker's crisps like Joan Collins in court; Giggs looking confused as to why everyone on his team appears to wear boots which make them float on air a couple of inches above the turf and he's just got a boring pair of Reeboks on; and David Platt, whose recent performances in the Arsenal midfield are about as nutritious as the burgers he sells. Not forgetting Eric Cantona, who has taken the relationship with commercials to the level where his every public utterance is scripted by a couple of smart-arse copy-writers at Nike's ad agency.
The only football-related commercial I can remember which even remotely held the attention was the Yellow Pages ad which circulated when Terry Venables was made England coach. In it Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor consulted each other about what was the best congratulatory present for Tel, and decided to send him a cake, a Sugar-free one, you suppose.
The agency will doubtless be gearing up for a remake, now that Venables has resigned. Not that they can be certain of the casting. With Frank Clark the only plausible manager to have shown a flicker of interest in the England manager's job ("what's his problem?" asked a Sun headline), the FA must be reaching desperation point. Graham Kelly will be pleased to know then, that following his ad success with Keegan, the Honey Monster has not ruled himself out of contention.Reuse content