FA Cup Draw
For many years the FA Cup draw was televised from what appeared to be someone’s living room, the teams being drawn out of a velvet bag by old, bald, silent men.
Considerable suspense was generated by the slow, solemn ritual and the absolute lack of emotion exhibited by the FA officials. When, during the fifth-round draw in 1986, an escaped gunman burst into the room, FA chairman Bert Millichip calmly finished his sentence ‘…will play number 23, Reading’ before rugby-tackling the man to the ground while the home team for the next game was being drawn.
Of late, the draw has been turned into a tacky, underwhelming sideshow; the numbers are fished out of a hideous vessel recalling the peasant-pleasing antics of the National Lottery draw, and the teams are announced by awkward ex-players who are forced to engage in desperately laboured banter about their former teams.
The suspense of the old draw has been destroyed by an innovation whereby the ‘numbers to watch’ are displayed on the screen, so everyone knows which team corresponds to which number.
This is in stark contrast to old times; as recently as seventies, a senior FA official was imprisoned for life after revealing to a friend that Millwall would be represented by ball number 14.
The reverent silence of the old draw has also been replaced by an atmosphere of forced jollity, the host chipping in with inane remarks about the teams drawn, such as ‘Scunthorpe, who had a good win yesterday…’ rather than shutting the fuck up and getting on with it.