But while this east v north neighbourly dispute is placed in the humdinger category — and rightly so — by the population of large pockets of southern England, what must the rest of the country make of all the hype?
Football followers detached from the passion surrounding this match might consider it just a local spat between two out of sorts London sides. The only evidence to support this is the Premiership table, in which only a point separates the sides in the lower half of the table.
The old adage says, however, that League form counts for nothing in the Cup. We all know that this match has the makings of a classic Cup tie. All the ingredients are there, just waiting to be thrown into the Upton Park mixer.
The Hammers fans view it as their right to progress to the last four, having seen off the challenge of Manchester United and Sunderland — both away from home. Given the League position of those two, Spurs are viewed as a mere stepping stone to a first semi-final appearance since 1991 (who could have won it that year?).
West Ham’s big day out at Villa Park ten years ago didn’t exactly go according to plan — centre-half Tony Gale was sent off and the Hammers proceeded to lose 4-0 to Nottingham Forest, who were subsequently overcome in the final.
From Spurs fans’ point of view, you could add Real Madrid to West Ham’s list of recent conquests and it still wouldn’t make any difference — the year ends in ‘1’ and that’s it.This is even the 11<sup>th</sup> FA Cup meeting of the two clubs — there you go, two ‘1’s together, this number just keeps cropping up.
Despite not really making a real impact of the Premiership this term, West Ham, and a few of their number, have received rave notices for their performances.
Central to media attention has been Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and, to a slightly lesser extent as he has been around longer, Frank Lampard. Following their Cup exploits the trio caught the attention of one Sven Goran Eriksson, who added them to his first England squad.
East End romantics recalled the old academy days and fondly remembered another time when West Ham provided England with three players. The aforementioned trio have got some way to go before their names roll off the tongue in the same way as Moore, Hurst and Peters.
Praise to them though, they are players of great ability and are a credit to Harry Redknapp’s faith in youth.
Only Lampard featured against Spain as Carrick and Cole both sustained knocks, and Carrick is said to be a doubtful for the big one.
Since West Ham took the plaudits for forming part of England’s futures, they have suffered comprehensive defeats to two London sides. Arsenal, Chelsea — and here’s hoping a third can be added to that list on Sunday. Oh yeah, that’s Sunday March 11 — it’s those ‘1’s cropping up again!
By Richard Hubbard
If the fourth and fifth round ties against Charlton and Stockport were reckoned to be crunch ties — this one is crunchier, by a distance.