The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Get It Right, Virgin Trains; I Mean, Jesus

Via my bosom friends at the Daily Mail: In a mind-melting melding of football, satire, and public transit, Robbie Keane’s return to Tottenham is now being held up to the withering derision of the Virgin Trains marketing department. Playing on the implication that their trains, like Robbie Keane, sometimes make the trip from Liverpool to London, their newest ad promises you, the sport-savvy traveler, “[a] Liverpool to London return faster than Robbie Keane.” Picture that in white type on a red background in some slick modern font. I’m not running the picture.

What does that copy mean, though? Didn’t they kind of screw it up? Had they said “a Liverpool to London return faster than Robbie Keane‘s,” with the possessive form of “Keane,” they would clearly have meant Robbie Keane’s return to London, and thus have unambiguously suggested the famous transfer. But saying “a Liverpool to London return faster than Robbie Keane” just suggests that the return is faster than Robbie Keane is fast, faster than Robbie Keane’s ground speed, which, while not bad for a Premier League striker, isn’t exactly world-beating from a mass-transportation point of view.

I mean, think about it. How quickly could Robbie Keane actually traverse the distance between Liverpool and London? It’s about 212 miles from Anfield to White Hart Lane, roughly the length of eight marathons. Suppose Robbie Keane is capable of completing one marathon in two hours and forty-five minutes, with five minutes added on to deal with a phantom ankle injury. Assuming he doesn’t tire, it’s still going to take him over 22 hours to cover the distance—well over what you’d like to see from a modern-day railroad. And that’s before you even factor in the weight of the passengers he’d be carrying. (I assume in a little wagon strapped to his chest.)

In short: come on, Virgin Trains. Put your apostrophe in the right place. And don’t act like it’s some kind of big shenanigan that your machines are capable of completing a four-hour journey in less than one calendar day. Any stagecoach worth its salt could beat that time, and… Honestly, I don’t even know why I bother.

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Get It Right, Virgin Trains; I Mean, Jesus

by Brian Phillips · February 11, 2009

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