FA Cup Semi-Finals Week: Middlesbrough V Chesterfield, 1997 (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 10/04/2012 09:18 Updated: 09/05/2012 16:23

The sports calendar rarely gets better than this weekend.

As everyone rushes to the bookmakers to place a bet on their horse of choice for the Grand National at Aintree, the FA Cup semi-finals are also on the agenda.

Unfortunately though, the last four of what used to be the world's greatest cup competition are now played at Wembley's soulless stadium.

Many agree the Cup's significance has dwindled, but the Football Association, rather than attempt to reignite its aura, are effectively acknowledging how unimportant it is becoming.

On Saturday, Liverpool and Everton face one another at 12:30. "Stella for breakfast," as one Kopite said.

What makes this an intolerable scenario is that Old Trafford is the ideal venue for such an event, yet half of Liverpool will be descending on London just because the cost of the new Wembley stadium veered past £1bn.

And the following day Chelsea face Tottenham at the same venue at 6pm. Consideration for clubs (Chelsea face Barcelona 60 hours later) and their supporters is non-existent, and reserved for television corporations and recouping cash.

But nevertheless, despite the times and the stadium, it is two cracking line-ups and neutrals are optimistic for at least one classic semi, after a lean spell of last-four clashes.

So ahead of the weekend's double bill we air the first of our five randomly selected and great semi-finals from yesteryear. We start at Old Trafford and 1997, as Premiership mavericks Middlesbrough, boasting Juninho, Emerson, Ravanelli and the like, take on Division 2 Chesterfield.

Middlesbrough v Chesterfield gallery:

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