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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Cup final in need of a boost
Eric Cantona
Cantona scored the only goal in 1996 on 85 minutes
The very first FA Cup final to be held at Wembley provided enough drama to last the great stadium a lifetime.

Known ever after as the White Horse Cup Final, the 1923 tie between West Ham and Bolton, was saved by a policeman and a lone white horse.

Hordes of ticketless fans rushed through the turnstiles, spilling over the terraces and on to the pitch.

The match was only saved by the police rider and his horse who together gently pushed the crowds back along the touchlines.

As the famous ground finally reaches the end of its current state, every football fan in the country will be hoping its last cup final will defy recent occasions and once again produce a match worthy of the hype.


Roberto Di Matteo
Roberto Di Matteo's early goal killed the game in 1997

It used to be that the most valued trophy in the world inspired teams to sweat blood and tears in an attempt to prove themselves deserved winners.

Players such as Stanley Matthews, Paul Gascgoine, Norman Whiteside and Dave Beasant will always be inextricably linked with notorious cup final moments.

Whether it was breathtaking skill, historic penalty saves, or simply petulance resulting in broken bones, cup finals thrive on drama and need it in any form in order to become memorable.

In recent years however, there has been a distinct lack of excitement, anticipation, and some would even say passion in the great Wembley date.

For the past six seasons, one of the two teams in each final has failed to even get on the scoresheet.

And they have been some of the most attacking sides in the game today - Newcastle twice, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Everton.

It certainly isn't a lack of quality in the sides which reach the Twin Towers that is to blame.

Drooling

The Liverpool-Manchester United clash in 1996 had many people drooling at the prospect of two great footballing sides battling it out for Wembley glory.

Instead, millions of people around the globe watched what may well go down as one of the dullest, most lifeless cup finals in modern times.

Even Manchester United's fans must have felt slightly embarrassed at their delight in a victory which came courtesy of an Eric Cantona goal just three minutes before the end of normal time.

So the weight of expectation rests heavily on the shoulders of Chelsea and Aston Villa - both teams must commit everything to playing in a final which will go down in history.

Could it be after Saturday fans will ask - do you remember where you watched the 2000 FA Cup final?

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