A week before the World Cup starts, the tournament finally became real for me. Not because of the sad news about Rio getting merked, but because today was the unveiling of that classic office tradition: the sweepstake.
As there are only four of us in the office on a daily basis, we all drew eight teams out of a hat (well, a bowl, actually. Presentationally, we were about as good as the average FA Cup draw), getting one team each for every World Cup group. We all pay a five pound entry fee for the privilege. The person with the winning team wins a tenner, the one who has the team that scores most goals gets a fiver, and just to make it interesting, the lucky holder of the worst team in the tournament wins the remaining five pounds. Further amusement is provided if any of the seeded teams go out in the first round, as the holder of any of them has to buy either cakes or beers for the rest of the office.
I managed to draw two seeds – Spain and Germany – and a ragtag bunch of other sides, with the only real disaster in my list being North Korea. My wife was less lucky, managing to get the likes of Honduras and no seeds at all, though the fiver for the losing team could well be in the bag for her. Sweepstakes are great as they spark up interest in even the most potentially dull matches, and I really can’t wait for the tournament to start. Methinks that 5Live will become the station of choice in the office over the next month. COME ON SPAI… er… England.