This weekend is, of course, FA Cup Semi-Final weekend and down the years the desire to reach Wembley (and Cardiff’s) showpiece has been the catalyst for some stonking matches and moments of footballing genius.
Everton and Manchester United get proceedings underway on Saturday evening under the Wembley arch, before Watford and Crystal Palace do battle on Sunday, with both sides having reached the final just once before.
So while those four sides look to feature in May’s finale and win that famous old trophy, the rest of us can spend a little time pondering some semi-final corkers from yesterday.
Ryan Giggs? He’s here. Gazza? He’s in the list too, and so is a current Premier League boss.
Here are five past FA Cup Semi-Finals to reminisce over, starting with what’s possibly Alan Pardew’s finest moment as a player…
Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool – Sunday April 8, 1990
When Liverpool raced into a 1-0 lead through Ian Rush at Villa Park after just 14 minutes, one could be forgiven for thinking Kenny Dalglish’s men were heading to another FA Cup final.
This exciting Crystal Palace side had other ideas however and took the lead with 20 minutes to spare.
Goals from Steve McMahon and a John Barnes penalty had Liverpool back in front in a dramatic final 10, before Andy Gray sent everyone into extra-time.
And who should prove the man of the (half) hour? Alan Pardew!
Oh yeah, Liverpool had hammered Palace 9-0 earlier in the season to give this result so added madness…
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Arsenal – Sunday April 14, 1991
Arsenal would go on to win the league title, but there would be no double thanks to north London rivals Tottenham and a stunning free-kick from a peak Paul Gascoigne.
Gazza’s rocket set-piece left David Seaman flying into no man’s land and Spurs were on their way to Wembley after just five minutes.
Gary Lineker made it 2-0 with just 10 minutes on the clock, and though Alan Smith’s goal on half-time kept it interesting, Lineker was there again to wrap the game up.
Nobody remembers the game for the England striker’s brace though…
Everton 4-1 Tottenham, Sunday April 9, 1995
Heading to this semi clash, Everton were just two points above the relegation zone while Tottenham were doing just fine in seventh.
The Toffees turned in one of their best performances of the year however to hammer Gerry Francis’ Spurs.
Matt Jackson put the Merseysiders ahead before the break, with Graham Stuart doubling the advantage shortly after.
Jurgen Klinnsman pulled one back, but Goodison hero Daniel Amokochi netted twice late on to send Everton to Wembley where they would beat Man United in the final – their last major trophy.
Chesterfield 3-3 Middlesbrough, Sunday April 13, 1997
Football can be the cruellest of mistresses sometimes.
Third-tier Chesterfield had been on a fairytale to rule all fairytales, as they led Middlesbrough 2-0 with half an hour of their semi-final clash to go.
Fabrizio Ravanelli quickly pulled one back, but then, the moment.
David Elleray look away now.
Jonathan Howard’s shot hit the underside of the bar and by most accounts went over the line. 3-1 to Chesterfield and a place in the final? Not so said Elleray and Boro quickly equalise through Juninho.
We all knew what would happen then. Chesterfield’s dream came crashing down in the replay, losing 3-0.
A third division side has still never made the final. Cheers David.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Wednesday April 14, 1999
What a match this was. The two finest teams of the era, met in a titanic FA Cup replay.
Victory for Arsenal would set them on course for a domestic double, while a United win would maintain their aspirations of a historic treble.
David Beckham scored arguably one of his best goals to put the Red Devils up early on before Dennis Bergkamp levelled midway through the second period.
Roy Keane then saw red before Phil Neville hauled down Ray Parlour in the box in injury time.
Bergkamp stepped up to win the game, to redefine the season and perhaps dictate the next few seasons for each club… but it was never so easy to beat Peter Schmeichel.
And then in the second half of extra-time, Patrick Vieira misplaced a pass and it was picked up by Ryan Giggs…
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.