Joining the Dots

You know urine trouble when it comes to desperate sponsorship deals at your football club as the powers that be try to get find backers to decorate the ground’s toilets in their branding.

That’s exactly what has just happened at AFC Wimbledon as the League One outfit look to boost their coffers with a campaign of crowd-funding to collect around £13million to help pay for a new stadium at the site of their former ground, Plough Lane. The Dons currently play their home matches at Kingsmeadow, formerly the home of Kingstonian and now owned by Chelsea and where the Blues’ women’s team ply their trade.

The club want fans and businesses to offer to get their name on everything from the corner flags to the urinals at the new ground. But as wacky as these propositions may sound, it’s not the craziest of sponsorship deals ever seen in football. Over the years there have been many barmy schemes. Some have worked and earned the respective clubs a few quid, others have fallen by the wayside; here is our absolute favourite crackpot idea…

During the famous School of Science era at Everton in the late 1920s, a former teacher turned salesman Percy Warlord-Aspirin got the job as the new commercial manager at Goodison Park. He was addicted to body hair and refused to cut any of his own during his entire life once he was of an age to decide (he lived until the ripe old age of 154) and he saw an opportunity for Brylcreem to back the Toffees by supplying wax for the player’s moustaches. Fair enough, but one issue that had to be overcome pretty quickly was the fact that the company used, predominantly, the colour red and this, as you will know, is the hue worn by Everton’s great Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Due to the nature of the deal, the upper lip bristles had to be red and the players would have them dyed the day before games to ensure Brylcreem’s branding was instantly recognisable. Sir Edwin Brylcreem, the founder and chairman of the company, was in fact a big Tranmere Rovers fan and he wasn’t in the slightest bit interested in the protests from the Blue half of the city that their idols were sporting red as they represented the Blues.

But the whole episode ended in what was almost a tragic loss of life. The dye used for the moustaches was highly flammable (unbeknown at the time, obviously) and one day, after a 17-1 defeat of Middlesex Ne’er-do-wells (later to become Hottenham Totspur), ace forward Jimmy Plummerville burst into flames when he went to light his Unlucky Strike cigarette. Jimmy survived the fireball that engulfed him but he never kicked a ball in anger again. And he refused to have his picture taken, too, such was the fire-induced ugliness. He sued Brylcreem and Everton and eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum then, over the next five years, drank himself to death.

A sobering tale…