Stakes are high in world cup sweep

Kate Mason, My Style column. Picture: Marie Caley D5417MC
Kate Mason, My Style column. Picture: Marie Caley D5417MC

The world cup is kicking off tonight and while players across the globe will be feeling the pressure I’m surrounded by an office full of colleagues who are about to buckle under it.

But it’s not the outcome of the competition that’s got my office buddies biting their fingernails it’s the pressure of what to buy for the World Cup hamper.

Let me explain. It all started years ago when, as legend would have it, a young(er) Darren Burke came up with the idea of compiling a hamper full of goodies relating to the team you happen to pick out in the sweepstake.

So unlike other office sweepstakes there’s a lot more to think about than simply coughing up your quid and drawing out a name.

There is a traditional cash prize for the lucky person who happens to pick out the winning team, but it’s the hamper full of international produce that is picked out at random that everyone is secretly hoping for.

We love a good sweepstake in our office, with everything from The Apprentice to the Grand National .

They say it matters more when there’s money on it but when there’s a wicker basket full of weird and wonderful produce from across the globe the stakes are off the scale.

So you can understand the excitement as we all lined up to make out pick.

Without sounding ridiculously unpatriotic I was slightly miffed when I picked out England this year as I don’t fancy their chances of progressing too far in the competition.

But the silver lining means I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to picking my hamper offering - from John Smiths to English tea (and believe me I know which one my colleagues would prefer) the list is endless.

But it’s my fellow journo’s who have the like of Honduras and Cameroon that I feel sorry for.

It never fails to amuse me looking at the blank expressions of people as they desperately search through Wikipedia hoping to find some inspiration for their obscure team.

But as difficult as some nations may seem we’ve had some cracking efforts over the years.

Some of my favourites being a Fray Bentos pie for Uruguay and Ukraine’s offering from Darren Burke - a sheep (or a ewe), a toy crane all wrapped up in a paper print out featuring the face of our former colleague of Ukrainian origin Jonathan Jurejko - talk about thinking outside the box.

As much as I’m looking forward to sitting on the edge of my seat, beer in hand watching the beautiful game I’m more excited about seeing the strange items that will start to fill up the office world cup hamper....game on.