Many years ago I bought a house in Muswell Hill.

The first thing to do to a house is redecorate it.

I reckoned I made more money by doing ads than I did by painting walls, so I got a local guy round to do the job.

He brought his mate and they started work.

On the first day, before I went into the office, I made them a cup of tea.

The head painter said to me “See that bloke in the next room painting the wall, do you recognise him?”

I looked him over, nothing special: dark hair, forty or fifty years old.

I said no, I didn’t.

He said “That’s Bobby Smith.”

I said “Not THE Bobby Smith.”

He said yes it was.

I didn’t know what to say, to be honest I was a bit embarrassed.

Bobby Smith had been massive when I was a youngster.

Whichever football team you supported you knew about Bobby Smith.

He was the Spurs centre-forward in the first-ever team to win the FA Cup and League double.

It wasn’t thought possible until Spurs did it, in 1960/61.

They did the impossible and Bobby Smith was the centre forward.

That year he scored thirty three goals.

The next year he was in the team that won the European Cup Winners Cup.

They beat Atletico Madrid in the final, 5 – 1.

Bobby Smith scored a total of two hundred and eight goals for Spurs.

He regularly scored thirty plus goals a season.

In fact in just one season, 1957/58, he scored a record thirty six goals.

Imagine a player scoring half that nowadays, he’d be on several million pounds a year.

Like I say, I was a bit embarrassed.

I used to have a bubble gum card with Bobby Smith’s picture on it when I was a schoolboy.

Now here he was painting my front room.

See, in his day the maximum wage for players was twenty pounds a week.

So when you finished playing, usually in your mid-thirties, you had to get a proper job.

As you’d been playing football all your life you weren’t skilled at anything.

So that meant driving vans or minicabs, or painting and decorating.

Quite a change from having sixty thousand fans yelling your name every Saturday.

It’s the equivalent of finding Thierry Henri or Harry Kane painting your front room.

Except nowadays of course it wouldn’t happen.

Because footballers are millionaires and divorced from ordinary people.

They drive Ferraris and Bentleys and only eat in the best restaurants.

They never have to come in contact with ordinary people.

A bit like our job.

We could never imagine having to work as a minicab driver, or painter and decorator.

We only drive the most expensive cars, only wear the most expensive clothes, only live in the nicest places, and only eat in the best restaurants.

We never have to come in contact with ordinary people.

No wonder we can’t do advertising that has any relevance to ordinary people.

We aspire to do advertising that only has relevance on La Croisette in Cannes.

We are like the spoilt footballers who live in their own world and only talk on TV to football journalists.

We do what we do for the approval of our peers, not for the people on the street.


I think advertising would be much better if we all had to work in the real world occasionally.