IT might not quite have been 84 years of hurt for Hull City in the FA Cup since their last appearance in the semi-finals.
But, all the same, it has not been much fun, either, with regular exits in the early rounds being mixed in with the odd humiliation such as being knocked out by non-League duo Hednesford and Kettering not so long ago.
No wonder, therefore, that the final whistle yesterday was met with unbridled scenes of joy as the Tigers booked only their second appearance in the last four.
As supporters, some carrying the obligatory FA Cup made of tinfoil, poured on to the pitch in celebration – usually something reserved for a promotion or a play-off semi-final win, as opposed to reaching the last four – and chanted about their upcoming trip to Wembley, there was no doubting what the achievement of Steve Bruce’s side meant.
The Hull chief, basking in the glow of reaching his first Cup semi-final as a manager, said: “What a great day for the club.
“Managers, coaches and players come and go. The people who you are happy for is the supporters.
“To be in our first semi-final since 1930 is quite remarkable. So, let’s enjoy it.
“A big Yorkshire derby at Wembley will be terrific. It is sad that the FA Cup has lost a bit of magic but, when you get to this stage, whether you are a supporter or involved as a player or manager, it becomes exciting.
“Sheffield United obviously gave me my chance in management a long time ago at a difficult time for the club.
“I saw the scenes at Bramall Lane earlier with a big full house and what it meant to reach Wembley. It (Hull and Sheffield United face each other in the last four)should be a terrific occasion for everyone.”
Wembley now beckons for Hull. They may, in fact, end up going twice in as many months, with League One Sheffield United standing between Bruce’s men and a place in the May 17 final.
What can surely be guaranteed, however, is that the Blades, under Nigel Clough, will put up more of a fight than Sunderland did yesterday.
The Black Cats were abject. Totally lacking in attacking threat, Gus Poyet’s men were little better at the back with all three of Hull’s goals eminently preventable.
It meant that the Tigers were able to coast through to the semi-finals despite rarely getting out of second gear – and a first-half penalty miss.
Curtis Davies was immense at the back, while both Liam Rosenior and Ahmed Elmohamady linked up well down the right.
David Meyler, as had been the case when these two clubs had met at the Stadium of Light last month, dominated midfield.
But the fact that several home players had far from their best days and yet Allan McGregor still never had a save worthy of the name to make in 90 minutes says everything about how wretched the performance of the visitors had been.
The tone for the afternoon was set in the first half as Sunderland, sporting six changes from the team beaten at Wembley by Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final as Poyet chose to rest his big names ahead of next weekend’s vital relegation clash with Crystal Palace, failed to muster even a shot on target.
At the other end, Hull were far from their fluent best, but still should have been in front going into the interval.
Sone Aluko’s penalty miss was the reason for the teams going in level, the former Rangers man seeing his tame spot-kick saved easily by Oscar Ustari.
The Nigerian international had won the penalty after being tripped by Sebastian Larsson and his subsequent despair was clear for all to see.
It was a similarly frustrating story for the hosts when Matty Fryatt headed wide when he really should have found the net after being picked out wonderfully by Elmohamady.
Maynor Figueroa also hit the crossbar for Hull with an intended cross from the left wing and, as the two sides left the field at the break, there was a sense among the 20,047 crowd that it was just a matter of time before the home side broke the deadlock.
In the end, it took until the 67th minute. Davies was the man who made the breakthrough, but the defender would be the first to admit that his goal owed much to two of his team-mates. First, Fryatt tempted a rash foul out of John O’Shea next to the by-line. That allowed Tom Huddlestone to produce one of his trademark set-piece deliveries that Davies expertly steered beyond Ustari.
The defender’s celebrations betrayed his determination to finally play at Wembley after missing out five times in the past. A broken foot kept him out of West Brom’s play-off final win over Derby in 2007, while a year later he was on loan at Aston Villa when his Baggies’ team-mates reached the FA Cup semi-final.
Further misfortune followed once he had joined Villa as he did not feature in either the Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea or the Carling Cup defeat against Manchester United. Competing his tale of woe is how he missed Birmingham beating Arsenal in 2011 due to being Cup-tied.
What resolve Sunderland had was broken by Davies, as two blunders by Lee Cattermole confirmed Hull’s ticket to Wembley as, first, he was dispossessed by David Meyler who then raced clear to beat Ustari. Then, his woeful back pass presented a chance to Fryatt that the striker was not going to waste.