Belfast Telegraph

Hull have the tools to cut down Blades and be history boys

James Chester has urged his Hull team-mates to "make some history" as they prepare for their FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield United.

City head to Wembley tomorrow for a first semi-final in 84 years as the clear favourites against lower-league opponents and Chester wants them to make it count.

The 25-year-old defender is no stranger to a winning culture having been at Manchester United as they won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and one Champions League trophy.

He did not make an appearance during that time and made his way to Hull via loans with Carlisle and Plymouth, but has transferred the experience he gained to Hull, with whom he won promotion last season and an FA Cup semi spot in this campaign.

"It's been strange," he said of Hull's journey from the lower reaches of the Championship to Wembley Way. "I've been here for three years and the turnaround in the club in that space of time has been quite amazing.

"It's been a journey that I have enjoyed."

City are helped by heading to London knowing they are in good health in the league, with 10 wins so far putting thoughts of an immediate return to the Championship practically to bed.

"To get to the Premier League is where you want to play your football, and hopefully we are safe this season and then we can enjoy that adventure again next year," Chester said.

"The FA Cup run has been a bonus. You win three games and are into a quarter-final, then now a semi-final and it's amazing how quickly you reach this stage in the competition."

Both sides will have managers in their dugout with cup pedigree. Blades boss Nigel Clough played in a final under father Brian, who famously never won the trophy despite his best attempts, while Hull's Steve Bruce is a three-time winner.

"He reminds us of how many trophies he's won very often," added Chester.

"To have someone like that as manager is nice because it reminds us how rarely these opportunities happen."

Hull's last Wembley appearance came in the 2008 play-offs and, if they win tomorrow, they will be back there again in May.

The debate as to whether the semi-finals should be played at Wembley may never be settled, but Chester knows what he prefers.

He said: "It would be nice to play (just) the final there (Wembley), but as a player it doesn't happen too often to play at Wembley so to do that on Sunday will be a nice experience."

Meanwhile, Sheffield United striker Chris Porter recoils at the memory of his last visit to Wembley and is doubly determined to banish the nightmares.

The 30-year-old was a late substitute when the Blades lost a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out in the League One play-off final at Wembley against Huddersfield two years ago. Porter converted his spot-kick after a goalless 120 minutes but, with the scores locked at 7-7, looked on in horror as Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies buried his before Blades counterpart Steve Simonsen blazed his effort over the crossbar.

"It was a nightmare," said Porter. "I think that's probably the worse way to lose one. The dressing room after was as bad as anything I've ever seen. We were devastated."

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