Broadsword's football contingent is growing, just in time for the FIFA World Cup and much to my delight. I've spent my entire life supporting, along with four generations of Green's, Charlton Athletic Football Club. My colleague Sophie recently had the joy of watching Fulham, live at Wembley in the play-offs, accompanied by a family group of 30 and her five year old son proudly sporting full kit and giant flag. Another member of the team, John was a tad jealous (also an avid Fulham supporter).
Our designer Ben has a special place in his heart for Sheffield Wednesday, because in his words, they are 'twins with Fiorentina' the Italian football club from Florence, his home city. They are known widely by the nickname 'Viola' a reference to their distinctive purple colours.
Ben and I often discuss the interesting journey, the ups and downs supporting Fiorentina and Charlton; we have much in common being life-long fans. To engage on such an emotional level with one’s favoured sport can prove rewarding, but to be honest, mostly causes stress and frustration, either avoiding relegation or struggling to secure the top spot.
The positioning of players on a football pitch is an art, and over the years many many managers have attempted to master this skill. There are so many variations on the formation theme: narrow, wide, attacking, defensive and the 4-3-2-1 (commonly described as the “Christmas Tree” formation).
Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified. To manage a corporate event, very much like a football match, one must adopt this approach on so many levels. An event is a staged performance, with an element of the unpredictable as there is little opportunity for extensive rehearsals. Therefore, like a football manager, we find ourselves sketching out formations and themes for how best to make it happen, but are always prepared for a curve ball to crush the ‘Christmas Tree’ and send the baubles flying.
Finding an accessible way in with our equipment, into some of London’s classiest venues, is one of the first sequences to focus our attention on, when loading in a live event. The fact of the matter is, if you want sparkle and shine, you need a multitude of custom poles and Edison bulbs and if you don’t want the bulbs to break, you need to pack them properly. Offering clients technical solutions for their events, involves a number of gadgets and gizmos, which will often come carefully wrapped and packed in flight cases. Inconspicuously, wheeling these along polished marble floors and mirrored corridors, is rather like a winter olympic skating routine (on very thin ice).
The starting whistle is blown and the tempo develops from waltz to quickstep. Stage, screens, stands and speakers are erected, while a limitless supply of cable is wrapped around the edge of the room. Like elegant ballroom professionals, we dart in and around florists, photographers and hotel managers. Setting up an event smoothly in a half hour window, is an art form in which the team’s movements are meticulously managed, alongside unpacking our boxes of delights. Finding an appropriate route out of the space for the crew, with all the empty flight cases, when one door is locked and the other leads directly to the hotel restaurant, we dream of magical methods of transportation and wonder if like Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione, we could apparate to Shaftesbury Avenue.
Tables are shifted to accommodate cameras and cables are organised and taped neatly out of sight. The event formation takes shape as we prepare for the guests to take to the pitch and play their part. Our eyes have watched so many versions of the beautiful game, just as these walls have witnessed so many variations of the ‘fireside chat’. But unlike our beloved teams, we're not prepared to make do with a draw, and refuse to accept defeat. Our events run smoothly and successfully, sometimes against all the odds; all elements maneuvered with skill and expertise and enhanced with moments of technical magic.
Much to the excitement of the Broadsword Team, even those with a passing interest in the sport, a World Cup company sweepstake will mean that everyone is involved in this summer's tournament and some office sport can be squeezed in amongst all the awesome events. So which little slip will Ben be hoping to draw as Italy failed to qualify?
"Germany, I say Germany."
Watch this space (well our social media channels) to see how it all plays out.