Friday, April 17, 2009

This weekend sees the two FA Cup semi finals.

In the week of the Hillsborough disaster, which took place at such a semi final, it's interesting to reflect on what the semi finals meant to those fans that died and how it's changed today.

Watching the TV programmes dedicated to Hillsborough this week, a number of Liverpool fans who had been at the fated game were saying that to many of them, the semi final was almost better than the final at that time.

In the days when a number of different sides could be FA Cup semi finalists and there wasn't a "big four" dominating proceedings most years, the feeling was that the semi was more exciting because you were so close you could almost touch that yearned for place in the final.

The semis were big occasions, going to replays, played at proper times of the day. If you got through them and to the final, you'd earned it.

The fans loved the occasion. It all just added up to the magic of the Cup that growing up was always (and still is to this day) way more exciting than the Scottish Cup.

Nowadays though the semis can be played on whatever day the TV companies feel is best and whatever time suits them, not the fans.

Then the whole factor of both games being played to a finish now. Sure the games are still being played at a neutral venue, but both at Wembley.

Sure it's a great stadium, but with so many games now played there it's lost it's mystique. The whole excitement of a FA Cup semi final was the fact that you could be playing at Wembley. It might have been the only time that players and fans would get there. Nowadays though, you can find yourself at Wembley very easily.

To the fans of the teams that have made it, it still will be a great occasion.

Without wanting to keep sounding like a sentimental old fool sitting in a old folk's home reminiscing about the good old days, you have to say that those were the days though and you can't help but feel that some of the old Cup magic has long gone, never to be recovered.
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