Sponsored Walk

Ronseal 5-year Woodstain pulled up outside his mansion, took his football kit out of his Bentley and walked into the house.

It was now two years since his name change, which was due to an inevitable progression in sport sponsorship. For many years big businesses had put money into sport and received little in return apart from their names on hoardings around the grounds. Over time big businesses became fed up with this, and began to demand more exposure for their money. It began when they put their names to actual trophies – cricket’s Gillette Cup, rugby’s Magners League, soccer’s Coca-Cola Championship. They then demanded not just advertising in stadia, but to have those stadia named after them, giving rise to such absurdities as Lansdowne Road becoming the Aviva Stadium.

Show-jumping led the way to the next stage. At first sponsors were allowed add their names to the horses’ own names, so that you got horses called Mercedes Benz Dobbin or Kleenex Neddy. Soon, though, the Dobbin or Neddy bit was dropped, and once a horse called simply Waterford Crystal competed in the 2004 Olympics the floodgates opened, and soon we had Formula One teams with names like Virgin and Red Bull. After that it was only a matter of time until some football agent, with all the greed of a, well, football agent, rang some major company and assured them that he could persuade the footballers in his care to change their names for a large cash payment, plus agent’s fee.

Cristiano Ronaldo was first, changing his name by deed poll to Pond’s Cold Cream. Penguin Books (Wayne Rooney), Gucci Handbags (Robbie Keane) and My Little Pony (John Terry) quickly followed, and soon anyone who was anyone was now someone else. As one of the most famous names in football the hero of this tale was eagerly sought after, and for a fee of ten million pounds he duly became Ronseal 5-year Woodstain. You might think that his wife would have been displeased at becoming Mrs Woodstain, but if so you didn’t pay enough attention to the ten million pounds mentioned in the previous sentence.

Besides, when you’re Victoria Beckham you’ve been called a lot worse.

The football artist formerly known as David Beckham quickly adapted to his new persona. Indeed, these days he could hardly remember his own name, though in fairness this was not a new state of affairs.

Ronseal entered his house and saw his three sons playing in the garden. Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz were now Snap, Crackle and Pop, which they were still young enough to think was really cool. When they got older having such names might not be as much fun, as Moon Unit Zappa would be keen to tell them.

The boys looked up, saw their dad and waved to him, and he waved back with his right hand, Maltesers. The really top stars had found that they could command cash not just for renaming themselves, but also for naming parts of their body. Ronseal’s legs, for instance, were now called Toilet Duck and Maynard’s Wine Gums.

Part of him was also called Viagra, which part we shall not say.

Ronseal settled into his favourite armchair and reflected that his life was good. As a name Ronseal 5-year Woodstain was a bit unwieldy, but most people shortened it to Ron. He had never thought of himself as a Ron, but there are worse diminutives. Thierry Henry, for example, was now Vagisil Feminine Moisturiser, and it was rumoured that he no longer left his house.

All in all, Ronseal was happy with his lot. In fact he reckoned he was probably the happiest footballer in England.

Or iPad, as it was now known.


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