I’m sure every Brighton & Hove Albion fan is looking forward to a trip to Wembley a week on Saturday, but before that FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City the stadium will host another game this weekend, the EFL Trophy final.
Personally I am glad the final of this competition is to be played by two well-supported Football League clubs. It seems fitting that both Portsmouth and Sunderland will battle it out in the capital.
Ticket sales certainly suggest there is a huge appetite from the fans for a trip to Wembley. Both have great history in cup competitions over the years and there is nothing like a venue full with passionate fans.
It was back in 2008 that the evergreen Kanu scored the only goal to give Pompey the FA Cup trophy against Cardiff. Pompey fans certainly know the highs and lows of supporting their club. It may be more than a decade ago that Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp were in charge but after sliding down the leagues it is great to now see them on the way back.
Kenny Jackett is an excellent football league manager and the Fratton Park faithful may yet celebrate another promotion in the coming months.
In fact many clubs along the south coast are riding on a bit of a wave in recent years.
Southampton, this weekend’s opponents for the Albion, were deducted points around a decade ago after their parent company went into administration.
Saints have steadily risen to the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League in the last few years. Head further west and you come to AFC Bournemouth, a club that, like the Seagulls, was staring into the abyss but is now an established Premier League team boasting several internationals. The bucket-carrying supporters are now watching top-flight football.
Even if you stray further into Dorset you come to Weymouth FC who have made local headlines for their financial travails over the years but seem to be on more of an even keel in recent times.
At some point or another I have covered all these clubs and I am delighted to see the south coast is so vibrant and healthy when it comes to football.
The traditional enclaves are still there from London to Liverpool, Manchester to Glasgow, but I for one believe a strong presence in the south is beneficial for all.
There will no doubt be ups and downs in the future but I hope Portsmouth win at Wembley this weekend, Albion progress to an FA Cup final and both Southampton and Bournemouth stay in the Premier League.
I think all three should be safe this season but it will continue to be a challenge to remain at the top table for years to come.
They are generally great games between the three sides currently residing in the top flight and one day Pompey may yet join them. That would certainly be something I would love to see.
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