The blog two days ago recalled a two-word response – Get lost – when in the cornflakes queue at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh I’d asked the great decathlete Daley Thompson for an interview.
Grass Routes reader and Northern League enthusiast Geoff Thornton fears that we may have traduced the poor chap, a view shared by his wife, Margaret.
The Thorntons live in Sussex, where the double Olympic gold medallist went to school, lived and trained. On one occasion Margaret and he met in the local Sainsburys when he not only stopped for a chat but bought sweets for the children.
“He was a nice man and one that British athletics has never replaced,” says Geoff.
It’s wholly coincidental that, on the day the blog appeared, several national newspapers should carry substantial interviews with Thompson. “In his pomp,” began the Telegraph piece, “Daley Thompson had a relationship with journalists that can most kindly be described as vexed.”
He’s now 60, mellowing perhaps accelerated because he’s employed as an “ambassador” – a highy paid PR man – for something or other.
Oddly, several of the same-day interviews were tagged “exclusive”, a journalistic term meaning “We got the press release first.”
“World exclusive” means we got it before the South China Morning Post.
*We also hear from Clem O’Donovan, usually in Weardale but presently in Dubai, who with his wife won three VIP days at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in a competition run by Eddie Shah’s short-lived Today newspaper.
They’d travelled first class from Durham to London, were then flown to Edinburgh, given the use of a chauffeur driven Daimler and three days in the VIP areas “among celebrities like the Krankies.”
It was while in a queue for aperitifs that Clem also found himself behind Daley Thompson and asked for an autograph. The response was markedly similar to that when an interview was sought.
A while later, Clem was standing beside a tall athlete, again thought of seeking an autograph but noticed the guy’s name badge. Linford Christie, it said.
“I’d never heard of him so passed on that one,” Clem recalls. “I often wonder what he went on to do.”
You read it here first.