Sweeping aside all thoughts of myself for the sake of integrity

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THE office sweepstake is a must-have accompaniment to any major sporting event.

The advent of Euro 2012 was no different and, such was the popularity and excitement generated by the prospect of winning £30 or so for a £2 stake, that we were forced to have two sweepstakes at YP towers.

Having missed the first draw due to having the audacity to take a rota day off, myself and a number of colleagues demanded that a second draw be held.

It was originally suggested by some wag to make it a bolder ‘big daddy’ kind of draw, with £10 per entrant.

This was quickly swept aside, however, once several colleagues had worked out how little that would leave them for other luxuries for the rest of the month with it being so far away from the next pay day.

Having been forgotten for the first draw, I was naturally one of the first to draw a team in the second.

I wish I hadn’t bothered. No offence to Ireland, but I quickly realised that my £2 was gone forever when I drew the Republic out of the A4 envelope.

I’d initially grabbed hold of a £10 note at the bottom of the envelope which had been dropped in by a wealthier colleague. With hindsight, I should have walked away then.

As a number of other colleagues were not in until later in the evening, I was charged with drawing on their behalf. I must have one of those honest faces.

Anyway, such responsibility is not to be taken lightly because you can easily find yourself out of pocket should one of the colleagues for whom you have chosen show disappointment in your selection on their behalf. In the past I have known some refuse to pay their £2 share and withdraw.

A re-draw had already been forced in the original draw with one colleague unimpressed with the team which had been pulled out on his behalf – it was Russia, so it was a fair point.

However, they probably wished they had not bothered kicking up such a stink as, when the teams were re-drawn, he then ended up with Ukraine. It did not get any better in the second draw as he then went on to pull out Croatia.

Having got over the diappointment of the team I had picked for myself, it then fell upon me to choose for three colleagues.

The first one I pulled out was Ukraine. Not bad, I thought, he will probably be happy with that. They are a host nation and stand a good chance of progressing to the quarter-finals – they are in England’s group after all.

Next team to be drawn out ... Holland, a result to put a smile on our deputy sports editor’s face.

The last draw brought with it even more pressure as it was for our beloved sports editor, who was away from the office due to his desire to travel around the Yorkshire dales in a 1960s camper van.

Germany. It couldn’t have got any better, I had done well. Now, the only problem the sweepstake ‘officials’ will have is getting him to cough up his £2 entry fee – even if he wins.

After overcoming the brief temptation to swap teams – believe me it was not an easy decision – I realised all was not lost for my stake.

The ‘rules’ of our second sweepstake are that £2 of the £32 collected is given back to whoever has the team first eliminated from the tournament.

All of a sudden, my hopes of at least breaking even looked quite rosy – meaning that as well as cheering on England and, as ever, my second-favourite team of Holland, I now have a third reason to cheer over the next three weeks. The only difference is, I just hope they do not win.