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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 16:03 UK

Fans enjoy rare FA Cup magic

By Peter Shuttleworth

Cardiff fans soak up the Wembley atmosphere before the FA Cup
Cardiff fans soak up the Wembley atmosphere before the FA Cup
In this magical season of FA Cup shocks, it was no surprise that Wembley was drowned in a sea of blue and wave of enthusiasm more than four hours before kick off.

The multi-million financial clout of football's aristocrats should make an FA Cup final a mere fantasy for these two teams but Portsmouth and Cardiff City fans will today tell you that dreams can come true in this enchanting famous old competition.

Both clubs are one of football's many paupers but their appearance in the 127th FA Cup showpiece encapsulates what this tournament is all about and why 500 million people around the world tune in to witness its conclusion.

While the Pompey and Bluebirds supporters safely held their tickets, they just had to arrive at Wembley early and pinch themselves that this was really happening.

Today reality was stranger than fiction, but boy it felt good.

Unlike those that follow the Arsenals, Liverpools, Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas of this monopolised world , this special occasion was a once in a generation day-out whereas the so-called big four play arguably bigger games most weeks in the Champions League.

Caroline Cheese

Both ends of this famous new stadium were in silent awe when reality dawned and kick-off neared.

"We shouldn't be here, how did this happen?" one starry-eyed Cardiff fan said disbelievingly to another.

Such a succinct statement sums up this FA Cup final neatly.

Both clubs have endured more forgettable days than unforgettable over the years, but this is pay-back time.

Cardiff, particularly, wish to forget much of their recent FA Cup history. The 1927 immortals will, naturally, remain dear to their hearts as they're still the only team to take the FA Cup out of England.

Cardiff memorably slew Premier League big boys Manchester City in 1994 and the Premier League leaders Leeds in 2002 but they've more often than not been the victim of a giant-killing.

The remains of Cardiff's FA Cup hopes lay slain on the killing fields of this quite ridiculous competition... Weymouth, Hayes, Bath City and Enfield to name but a few have lowered their colours.

But the game-keeper has turned poacher and Cardiff's cup luck has all engulfed them all at once.

Dave Jones' men have enjoyed a relatively straight-forward passage on the road to Wembley.

But in 1939 FA Cup winners Portsmouth, without silverware since a second successive league title in 1950, they are to find a club desperate to prove this is their second coming.

At last, the FA Cup means something again.

see also
Portsmouth 1-0 Cardiff
17 May 08 |  FA Cup
Jones proud of beaten Bluebirds
17 May 08 |  FA Cup
BBC pundits on the FA Cup final
17 May 08 |  Premier League
FA Cup final as it happened
17 May 08 |  FA Cup
FA Cup final photos
17 May 08 |  FA Cup

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