Date:Friday April 4 2008
Tick followed tock, followed tick followed tock, so went the advert, well the clock is ticking out.
Pompeys date with destiny is upon us, the wait is almost over and we return to Wembley to play a meaningful match for the first time since 1939, a time when Hitler was preparing his onslaught, and a time when a flat cap was mandatory dress for your average fan.
Pompey's last visit was a new dawn for greater things to come, those times disappeared in 1959 for almost another 50 years, now they are back.
We of course have the small matter of West Brom to overcome firstly, a team ranked 8th in all time F.A cup wins, and an F.A cup win as recent as 1968.
With 5 wins and 10 final appearances in the bag, their pedigree is not to be sniffed at.
All the pre-match talk has been of mutual respect between the managers, and some of the media has been championing Redknapp as 'the people's champion' a tag that never won Cloughie the cup. Other areas of the media quite fancy the idea of a non-premier final, a final without a top flight has never occured since the leagues formation back in 1888 I believe.
But as the clock ticks on and 12:15 on Saturday approaches, the butterflies build and the expectation is building to a crescendo.
Luke Moore will not figure, as like our own Jermain Defoe, he played in an earlier round for another club.
Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar will resume up front after sitting out the draw with fellow semi-finalists Cardiff on Tuesday, while Neil Clement is available after a loan spell at Hull.
Zoltan Gera should relegate Brunt back to the bench, and Dean Kiely gets a chance to show Redknapp that he is a better 'keeper than David James.
The Hungarian has stood out as a class player whenever I have seen him, he hit a cracking volley against the Charlton bar a couple of weeks back, and with his close control poses a real threat.
It's all about if Hermann Hreidarsson and JOhn Utaka are fit tomorrow, the big Icelandic defender has surprised many Pompey fans this season, many who raised an eyebrow or two when he signed. But he epitomises what the game is all about, I just hope the swellin on his ankle subsides and he can take his rightful place in the team. Utaka has responded well to treatment on his hamstring, but he also faces a late test, of late he has been frustratingly subdued, but showed flashes of his destructive side last time out against Wigan.
The suspended duo of Muntari and Diop are available again, Davis and Mendes would be the unfortunate pair to give way if they step back in, Diarra is also fit again after his hamstring trouble, the Frenchman will be the first on the list if fully fit.
Nugent is angling for a start, if we play with 2 up front he may get his wish, I thought against Wigan he looked like a new signing, while Baros has struggled to hit the net.
A big stage calls for a big performance, who is better equipped than Diarra to do just that?
Semi's are a 1 off, we beat West Brom in an earlier round last time we won the cup, they also have returned the favour in one of their 5 successes.
Howard Webb, widely recognised as one of the top refs in the Country, and one of the more lenient ones with only 1 red in 24 Premiership matches, and he is also England's referee representative at Euro 2008 (at least one Englishman will be there)
Everything points to a Pompey win, but the form book has been torn up this season in the cup, the romance of the cup has been returned, and in fact has become almost fiction! Pompey have broken many records of late, let's hope it doesn't include being the last Premiership club to slip up this year.
West Ham on Tuesday at the Boleyn
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Date:Friday April 4 2008
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