Blog reader Norman Robinson is watching the news tonight, manages to stay awake during the Brexit bit, notes a comment from the reporter: “It wasn’t a deal written on the back of a fag packet scenario.”
“Why not?” asks Norman. “If it’s good enough for the Northern League….”
Gosh, that stirs memories. It was the 1997 FA Vase final, North Ferriby v Whitby Town, towards the end of my first year as league chairman.
The Federation Brewery had unexpectedly pulled the plug on sponsorship – I’d never so much as met them – and the ball, or at least the begging bowl, had been left firmly in my court. Weeks of supplication had got nowhere: then a friend suggested I approach Brooks Mileson, who was Whitby’s principal sponsor.
I cornered him at half-time. Brooks at once proposed that I come to see him the following Tuesday, at the former coal owner’s mansion near Houghton-le-Spring where the Arnott group (as then it was) had its headquarters.
Tough negotiations? Oh aye. “How much would you like?” asked Brooks at once. “Thirty thousand a year,” I replied.
He found an empty Marlbro Lite packet from the many lying about the place – Brooks existed on Lucozade and Marlboro Lite – pulled out the inside flap and wrote a ten word agreement.
It was signed “Charlie Bear, picnic director” and it lasted for 11 years until Brooks’s death, with add-ons worth getting on half a million quid. I still have it, still treasure it.
It is, of course, a clear message for Mrs May and her people. A deal written on the back of a fag packet? A latter day picnic director? That’ll do nicely.