Shortly after earning a place in the FA Cup third-round draw thanks to Saturday's 3-1 win at Slough, the players of Ryman League leaders Yeading started praying, in time-honoured fashion, for the trip to Old Trafford.
Their wish did not quite come true when the balls came out of the bag yesterday - "Manchester United away" fell, happily enough, to cash-strapped Exeter City - but they could hardly claim the draw had been harsh to them as they found themselves hosting another Premiership side, Newcastle United.
Johnson Hippolyte, the magnificently named manager of the smallest team still standing in this year's competition - Yeading lead the Ryman League, three tiers down from the Football League - was still trying to take in the magnitude of the occasion minutes after watching the draw with his players.
"When we saw Exeter get Manchester United, there was a groan," he said. "But when we got Newcastle the place was in uproar. I'll settle for them. My players are over the moon."
Hippolyte had ordered his men in for light training after Saturday's 3-1 second-round win at local rivals Slough, who had beaten Walsall in the previous round. "We needed to get some of the alcohol out of our system," he said. Although Hippolyte does not make a habit of watching opponents, he is considering making an exception for Newcastle. "It might be worth going up there and having a few beers on the director's credit card," he said.
The Yeading manager is well aware of Newcastle's infamous FA Cup defeat in 1972 at the hands of Hereford United. "I've seen it many times," he said. "Maybe we will have some of that. If they play a few reserves against us and some youngsters, anything could happen."
Exeter, relatively good bets at 10,000-1, have received the perfect trip, given their financial problems following their relegation from the Football League last year. They will be able to call upon some outstanding FA Cup experience, however - their director of football is Steve Perryman, who captained Tottenham Hotspur to successive FA Cup wins in 1981 and 1982.
Manchester United, who have won the Cup a record 11 times, won the only previous Cup match between the pair 3-1 in a third round tie in 1968-69. Arsenal, second favourites at 9-2, are home to Championship side Stoke City, while Chelsea, who won their third FA Cup in 2000, host League Two leaders Scunthorpe United.
Unusually none of the 20 Premiership teams were drawn against each other, although Crystal Palace face a tricky tie at Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers will need to be at their best away to Ipswich Town. Norwich City face a tricky game at Championship promotion contenders West Ham.
FA Cup draw third round
Arsenal v Stoke City Birmingham City v Leeds United Bournemouth v Chester City Burnley v Liverpool Cardiff City v Blackburn Rovers Charlton Athletic v Rochdale Chelsea v Scunthorpe United Coventry City v Crewe Alexandra Derby County v Wigan Athletic Hartlepool United v Boston United Hull City v Colchester United Ipswich Town v Bolton Leicester City v Blackpool Luton Town v Hinckley or Brentford Manchester United v Exeter City MK Dons v Peterborough Northampton v Southampton Oldham Athletic v Manchester City Plymouth Argyle v Everton Portsmouth v Gillingham Preston v West Bromwich Albion QPR v Nottingham Forest Reading v Stockport or Swansea Rotherham United v Yeovil Town Sheffield United v Aston Villa Sunderland v Crystal Palace Swindon or Notts County v Middlesbrough Tottenham v Brighton Watford v Fulham West Ham United v Norwich City Wolves v Millwall Yeading v Newcastle United Ties to be played on 8-9 JanuaryReuse content