Predicting the FA Cup Final

In 1956 David decided to predict the outcome of Britain's most prestigious foot-ball match, the F. A. Cup Final. That year Manchester City and Birmingham City would play at London's Wembley Stadium before a cheering crowd of one hundred thousand supporters. Britain is and was a nation of football fanatics. The entire country comes to a halt when the final is played. The prediction of the result was sure to guarantee nationwide publicity. Or so David thought.

What he hadn't reckoned on was his own success. Whereas the result of the F.A. Cup Final may be in doubt, the result of David's predictions weren't. Newspaper editors were well aware that no matter how unlikely or improbable the prediction, David was sure to get it right. Getting it right again, even if it was the Cup Final, just wasn't newsworthy enough any more.

Every newspaper that was approached with the idea said the same thing. Except for The Daily Mirror. The Mirror, Britain's largest circulation daily, had a slightly different view. They knew the value of the Cup Final. What if the prediction was placed somewhere unusual? Somewhere people would really talk about it. Wouldn't that give it a different spin?

David thought about it and knew they were right. He came up with several different scenarios. One of his favourites was to have the prediction inside the ball itself. The whole match would be played with the prediction hidden inside the football. At the finish the ball would be cut open, the prediction read out and the story included in every sports page.

A little research soon convinced David that the idea, though a good one, wasn't practical in this instance. There would be a couple of dozen footballs at the pitch side that day and it was from this selection that the match ball would be chosen. Trying to put a prediction in the ball at such a late stage in the proceedings would be impractical.

At the end of the match the Queen would present the F.A. Cup to the winning team. This suggested other possibilities. What about hiding the prediction under the cushion she sat on? Maybe David could sneak it into her handbag? On the other hand maybe he'd end up being carted away by a couple of burly security guards.

One marvellous idea did emerge from the brainstorming. What if the prediction was • found in the F.A. Cup itself by the captain of the winning team? At first it seemed impossible, the cup was carefully guarded, but David's research into the pre-match activities showed that the stunt might be easier to pull off than he first thought.

And so on the fateful day, the 5th of May 1956, David prepared a couple of predictions in envelopes and set out for Wembley Stadium. He had already discovered that the cup would be on display, secured behind a glass case, before the match. In theory it was under guard but the reality was that security was light. David had persuaded a temporary worker at Wembley to help him smuggle the prediction envelope into the cup. The opportunity arose when the cup was taken from the display case in preparation for its collection by the police and its eventual transfer to the Queen for presentation. The secret assistant casually removed the lid from the cup and gave it a polish inside and out with a cloth he held in his hand. Hidden in the cloth was the prediction envelope with a strip of adhesive tape attached. The envelope was quickly pressed against the bottom of the cup and the lid replaced. The assistant wandered away and mingled with the other staff in the room.

The envelope in the cup did contain a prediction. David never left predictions blank just in case someone decided to open them up before their time. After all while you may be wrong you can also be close or even correct. You can only be embarrassed if there is nothing on the paper at all. It had also been agreed that David's secret assistant would later, if confronted, confirm that he had indeed smuggled the prediction into the cup before the match began.

The first half of the match was tightly fought and ended on a cliff-hanger with a one-one score. But the second half saw Manchester City dominate and eventually they won by three goals to one. David noted down the details and included them in the second prediction envelope. He always made detailed predictions, including things like stopping time, the half-time score, disallowed goals and other trivia. In this case he wrote down the names of the scorers: Hayes, Dyson and Johnstone for Manchester City and Kinsey for Birmingham. When

> 'itííi; «

Predicting the F.A. Cup Final he finished he handed the envelope to a second accomplice, a journalist who possessed a press pass that would be put to use in stage two of the stunt.

Meanwhile the captain of the winning team was shaking hands with the Queen. She then presented him with the fabled cup and he, in the traditional manner, held it aloft to cheers from thousands of fans. The entire team walked down onto the pitch and paraded around in a lap of honour, the cup held up in triumph with David's prediction inside, as yet unseen.

The match over, the teams retired to their dressing rooms. Manchester City's dressing room area was already full of reporters and photographers looking for post-match stories to fill the newspapers. David's accomplice, the journalist, was also there and he had David's correct prediction in his pocket. Once again the cup was unguarded and everyone's attention was on the footballers themselves. Taking advantage of the chaos, the accomplice removed the first prediction from the cup and replaced it with the second, correct, prediction.

Moments later champagne corks popped and the cup was brought forward. It was a tradition that all the team would drink from the cup. One of the players removed the lid and noticed an envelope inside addressed to "The Captain of the Winning Team." He took it out.

Outside David waited nervously. It was some time before the dressing room celebrations were over and the reporters left to file their stories. David's accomplice rushed up to meet him. He did not look happy. "Well what happened?" asked David. "Nothing," said the accomplice, "Nothing at all." Now David didn't look happy either.

Events in the dressing room had not gone as anticipated. When the captain had taken the envelope he didn't open it, he just placed it aside. Now was a moment for celebrating not reading. The accomplice was dumbstruck, literally. He hadn't the presence of mind to speak out and persuade the captain to open the envelope and read out its contents. There was too much noise, too much of a party atmosphere and the captain's reaction had taken him completely by surprise. This wasn't the scene he and David had envisaged.

David couldn't blame his friend and wonders whether he should blame himself for misjudging those final moments. Everything else worked. At the end of the F.A. Cup David Berglas had, despite the odds, managed to get a detailed prediction into the cup itself. It had passed from the hands of Scotland Yard into the hands of the Queen and then to the captain of the victorious team. What else could he have done? It should have netted him an incredible amount of publicity. Instead it remains one of those wondrous feats that fail because sometimes even the most farsighted planning is not enough.

The captain did eventually open the prediction at a celebration dinner at the Café Royal later that evening. But by then it wasn't news and David was far away, no doubt working on yet another prediction. Probably the one involving the Queen's handbag.

Quit Smoking For Good

Quit Smoking For Good

Quit smoking for good! Stop your bad habits for good, learn to cope with the addiction of cigarettes and how to curb cravings and begin a new life. You will never again have to leave a meeting and find a place outside to smoke, losing valuable time. This is the key to your freedom from addiction, take the first step!

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment