The strange allure of the half-time raffle at football matches | Football
A gnarled gaggle of committeemen stood round the gateman’s hut discussing what to serve the fit officers for tea. One of that afternoon’s assistant referees had a name for Saturday nights on the beer and there used to be a common trust that he refused to flag for offside for worry of tiring his ingesting arm. “Have we got any of them rock hard Jaffa Cakes left over from the last home match?” one of the committeemen stated. “Aye,” some other answered, “the birds wouldn’t eat them.” The first speaker appeared up at me and winked. “Even the rats bring a packed lunch round here,” he stated. “D’you want a ticket for the half-time draw? Pound a strip.”
I purchased one, extra out of charity than in anticipation of victory. In 25 years of attending non-league football I’ve no longer gained a unmarried raffle prize. A conservative reckoning of the quantity of tickets I’ve purchased over that duration could be 2,000. Given that attendances hardly ever best 250, are moderately incessantly down in double digits and at puts like Shotton Comrades in the past due 1990s struggled even to make that, the odds in opposition to someone pulling off moderately any such extraordinary run of failure will have to be astronomical. Later, after I considered it, I felt my chest swell with what I took to be satisfaction, although on reconsideration it will simply had been the scotch egg I’d had at part time.
Back after I’d first began purchasing non-league raffle tickets the task of informing the crowd of the profitable quantity used to be typically entrusted to 1 of the pre-teen urchins who used to flock to grounds in the ones days. The urchins took on many vital tasks, together with scaling the goal-netting as though it had been the rigging of Captain Blood’s pirate send, making espresso in the tea bar the usage of such a lot of spoonfuls of Maxwell House it had the texture of porridge, breaking right into a refrain of We Are The Champions for no obvious explanation why, or status at the back of the target and yelling “We saw your bum crack, mister” at the opposition goalie each time he dived for the ball till he grew so enraged he chased them over the fence.
Amazingly, one of them would nonetheless in finding the power to hold round the blackboard with the profitable raffle price ticket quantity chalked on it. This used to be a character-forming workout because it inevitably concerned the child being subjected to disgruntled punters bellowing: “If there’s only 76 people in the crowd, how come I’m 839 out, you little bastard, eh?”
I will be able to’t say I haven’t puzzled at that myself occasionally. Especially after the infamous Chesterfield raffle scandal of 2016 through which the probability to win a pre-season shuttle to the membership coaching camp in Hungary attracted simply 4 entrants and used to be gained by way of a Spireites fan from the Home Counties who grew to become out to be fictitious. I’ve by no means pursued it although. Non-league football wishes my quid greater than I do, and to be truthful, no longer profitable is a reduction given the nature of some of the prizes.
Once over in west Durham at a floor whose clubhouse used to be a windowless bunker and served lager so crackling with chemical compounds it almost glowed, I requested what the raffle prize used to be and used to be advised: “A fiver. It was going to be a bottle of brandy but when we looked at it just now it had floaters in it.” On some other instance a small field of groceries used to be on the desk. “It’s all good stuff, lad,” the price ticket vendor stated in a plangent tone, wafting his veined and blotchy hand gently over a number of packets of Cup-A-Soup, a tin of marrowfat peas and a bottle of Vosene in a fashion that crammed me with an inexplicable depression.
Traditionally although the prize used to be a meat packet. This used to be an excellent field loaded with chops, sausages, liver, kidneys, black pudding, tubs of lard and no matter else might be packed in. The grandest appeared like an post-mortem, the smallest like one of the ones fashions of the digestive device on the shelf in the college biology lab. The meat packet used to be proudly displayed at the front to the floor as though to draw canine and repel vegans.
Then a couple of years again the meat draw used to be progressively withdrawn. “Can’t do it any more,” one ticket-seller defined after I requested why we had been being presented a case of Heineken. “You see, trouble is people sometimes take days to collect the prize. You can’t have a bag of ox liver kicking around all week, goes off.”
A short while later I went to look North Shields in opposition to Ashington. North Shields play at the Daren Persson Stadium, in all probability the most effective football floor in England named after an undertaker. I adopted an previous bloke in thru the turnstiles and waited as he purchased his raffle tickets. He used to be a small guy with the piercing darkish eyes of a polecat. “Prize always used to be a meat packet,” he stated to me as we walked off previous the tea bar. “Ah well,” I stated, “you see it’s because….” And I defined what have been advised to me previous in the season.
The previous guy eyed me for some time once I had completed, cocking his head to 1 facet like a terrier listening to a high-pitched whistle. “Is that right?” he stated. I showed that it used to be, including: “You know, pork and that.” The previous guy shook his head and spat vehemently on the grass. “It’s political correctness gone fucking daft,” he stated, “You know who I blame, don’t you?” Well, we’ll in finding out if he used to be proper after 29 March, I assume.