Save a replay or two, the pairings for the F.A. Cup 5th Round have been determined and the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning and Paul Doyle were near a television set when the heavy shit went down.
Unless they were moonlighting for Mecca bingo, it’s difficult to imagine FA big cheese David Davies, Jason Robinson-doppelganger John Salako and Liverpool legend Ian Rush generating much excitement with nothing more than a glass bowl full of numbered balls, but the trio pulled it off with considerable aplomb at today’s draw for the FA Cup fifth round.
Mind you, it was touch and go. With Davies floundering in his role as MC, just a few sides left in the drum and the early fixtures barely registering a flicker on the Fiver’s interest-o-meter, it was more in hope than expectation that we stayed tuned to events at Soho Square rather than switching the channel to revel at the latest madcap scheme involving mischievous Toadfish replacing Harold’s tuba with Paul Robinson’s prosthetic leg on Neighbours. Luckily, our patience was rewarded as, with trembling hand, Rushie drew ball No4 from the FA tombola, thereby ensuring that the one tie football lovers everywhere wanted to see will take place.
But with Stoke City manager Johan Boskamp unavailable for comment on his side’s home clash with Reading or Bongo FC, we’re going to focus on the equally mouth-watering tie between Preston or Crystal Palace v Coventry or Middlesbore instead. “We wanted it done and dusted in 90 minutes. We now have a ridiculous number of games in a short space of time, but we’ve got to get on with it,” chirruped Crystal Palace gaffer Iain Dowie to an old lady who asked him for directions to the post office. “They are a good side and it was a tough game on Saturday.”
There are, of course, other matches of marginal interest taking place, as Glendenning and Doyle go on to specify.