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Wembley Cup final magic diluted by semi-final tasters

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A West Brom fan looks unhappy“It was always my dream to play in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley,” just doesn’t quite cut it and fans of teams chasing both domestic cups might struggle to sing: “We’re going to Wembley thrice.”

It’s just not right.

The FA may be contractually committed for the next 30 years to playing both semis as well as the final at their shiny new showpiece arena, but that does not mean we have to like it.

The weekend’s semis were both sold-out as almost 84,000 watched Portsmouth beat West Brom and Cardiff beat Barnsley and though most TV-watching neutrals were asleep by halftime in both games, those who turned up no doubt enjoyed their day out.

Which is what it should be like — for the final.

You play in the FA Cup to try to get to a Wembley final. It’s special. It always has been. Cup finals are sunny days in May and playing the semis there in April snowstorms devalues the main event and waters down the memories.

FA Cup response — How much more romantic can you get?

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Barnslay celebrateSo Kevin Fylan has poured scorn on this season’s FA Cup, saying romance was “the last word” he would choose to describe what’s happening in the competition. Well Kev, as we prepare for this weekend’s semi-finals, let me say I couldn’t disagree more.

I’ll admit I’m something of a footballing Luddite, one of those old-fashioned fans who laments the fact that the days are gone when clubs like Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Everton and Aston Villa won league titles. The days when supporters had a genuine affinity with players. The days when Sunderland, Southampton and West Ham could win the FA Cup.

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