Absence of the Big Six makes draw for last four a real rarity

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The weekend's giant-killing has resulted in the most startling semi-final quartet in a century. Not since 1908 has only one team from the top flight reached the last four. Then Newcastle United, of the then First Division, were joined by Second Division Wolves and Fulham, plus Southampton, of the Southern League (there were only two divisions at the time).

Wolves beat Southampton 2-0 in the semi-final and Newcastle 3-1 in the final at the old Crystal Palace.

It is also the first semi-finals since 1975 without at least one of the Big Six – Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea – plus Everton and Tottenham who, with the former trio, previously made up the Big Five. In 1975 West Ham were joined by Birmingham and Ipswich of the First Division and Fulham of the Second.

The semi-finals will be played at Wembley on 5-6 April. Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised the decision to play them at the rebuilt stadium, arguing that it dilutes the venue's "magic". Simon Davey, the Barnsley manager, responded: "Managers who say that are talking nonsense. It has to be at Wembley. To get to an FA Cup semi-final, it has to be at a great stadium."

He added: "I've no Wembley memories. I've never been there as a player, manager or fan and I can't even remember watching finals on TV. I don't think we could afford a television!"

Semi-finalists

BARNSLEY

Division: Championship (19th); Last semi-final: 1912; Last final: 1912

Best: Winners (1912)

CARDIFF CITY

Division: Championship (14th); Last semi-final: 1927; Last final: 1927

Best: Winners (1927)

PORTSMOUTH

Division: Premier League (9th); Last semi-final: 1992; Last final: 1939

Best: Winners (1939)

WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Division: Championship (4th); Last semi-final: 1982; Last final: 1968

Best: Winners (1888, 1892, 1931, 1954, 1968)

Semi-final draw will take place today at 1.25pm, live on BBC2.

Comments