The magic of the cup (draw)

The FA Cup First Round draw takes place on Sunday afternoon

What is it that makes the pulling of small balls from the middle of one giant ball so exciting? The FA Cup First Round draw takes place this Sunday afternoon and I’ve been asking myself why I am so excited and determined to tune in at 1:30 to see if the Cobblers will pull out the obligatory League One side away from home or a plucky underdog that sends shivers down our spines right up until kick off in that very game.

Ever since I was a young whipper snapper I’ve loved the sense of ‘properness’ (or ‘Propah-ness’ if it’s Trevor Brooking) of the whole thing. And contrary to most of the nation I find the First Round draw so much more exciting than the Third Round. You see teams being pulled out from all over the place, teams you never knew existed as a town/village let alone as a football club. I guess it’s also because it’s the one draw I know we’re guaranteed to be in as far as the FA Cup goes!

The randomness does it for me as well. It’s unbelievable how often you get coincidences like the game that almost was last season in which AFC Wimbledon could so easily have met MK Dons had it been for different results in replays. The fact that you could end up facing anyone at all from Leagues One and Two or an unknown quantity that raises a smile makes for engrossing television.

You always rehearse your number, check and double check what number you team is and shout ‘NO’ at the screen if the home team drawn is a heavyweight (see the likes of Sheffields United and Wednesday, Preston and Charlton this season) and elicit a huge sigh of relief when they are picked against another unfortunate.

The First Round draw makes so much happen. More so than the Third Round. Small towns, villages and even universities hold their breath in anticipation as the wait to see if their dreams of facing a league club and all the financial rewards that come with it come true. For one day, as a Football League side, you are looked at as the Big Guns.

The Cobblers suffered both ends of the barrel last season by picking out Forest Green Rovers away in Round One and then Sheffield Wednesday away in the Second but it’s the excitement generated for the initial draw that puts all the eventual underdogs together in one pot and sorts them out with a random pluck of a former footballer’s hand.

I may be too overexcited about it all but I hope this Sunday brings us some excitement after a difficult opening to the season. Bring it on!

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