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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cup friends reunited

By Peter Shuttleworth

The 1927 FA Cup final celebrated many firsts but the one feat that has not been repeated in the 82 years since then is that the famous trophy has not returned to Wales.

Cardiff chairman Walter Parker with lucky mascot Trixie
Chairman Walter Parker celebrates Cardiff's FA Cup win with Trixie

King George V and Britain's two 20th Century war-time prime ministers, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, watched Cardiff beat Arsenal in front of 93,000 inside Wembley on 23 April 1927 as a non-English team won what was then called the English Cup for the only time in its 137-year history.

The 1927 showpiece was the first cup final to be broadcast live on BBC Radio and was the final where the FA Cup anthem Abide With Me was sung.

The phrase 'Back to Square One' was coined at the 1927 FA Cup final as the radio commentators used a grid published in the Radio Times to describe the match action - and square one was the area nearest to one of the goals.

Cardiff City had adopted a black cat, Trixie, as star striker Hughie Ferguson believed she was a good omen.

Ferguson found her wandering astray on the Royal Birkdale golf course as City's players prepared for their fifth-round tie at Bolton Wanderers.

Ferguson called on nearby home-owners and found the cat's owner who agreed to the proposal - as long as he was given two tickets if the club progressed to the Cup final.

A deal was struck and the lucky mascot delivered.

Cardiff were pelted with leeks as the team bus arrived at Wembley but the most significant ambush was on the field as Cardiff made amends for their defeat by Sheffield United in the 1925 FA Cup final.


Hughie Ferguson scored a 74th-minute winner as his effort slipped under Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis' body.

Conspiracy theorists believed Welshman Lewis was aiding his fellow countrymen but Lewis blamed his brand new jersey for the error, saying the wool was too greasy for him to grip the ball properly.

Ever since, suspicious Arsenal have washed their goalkeeper shirts prior to every game.

Now Cardiff are set to renew old acquaintances against the Gunners in their FA Cup fourth round showdown to be played at Ninian Park on the weekend of 24-25 January.

And who knows, this could be more FA Cup history for Cardiff as the tie could be the last FA Cup game to be played at Ninian Park before the old ground is knocked down?


Tom Farquharson
Farquharson arrived in south Wales after being released from prison

Tom Farquharson

The close childhood friend of Sean Lemass, who later became Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) between 1959 and 1966, was a non-violent member of the Irish Republican Army and was jailed for removing wanted posters from St Stephen's Green in Dublin.

A prominent army major was a family friend who promised he would release the imprisoned painter and decorator so long as he left Ireland.

Farquharson fled to South Wales on his release and joined Cardiff City in 1922 after being spotted making up the numbers in a local game in Oakdale.

He became one of the great goalkeepers of that generation, playing 481 league and cup games in 13 years for the Bluebirds, and was a Division One runner-up in 1924, FA Cup finalist in 1925, FA Cup winner in 1927 but part of the fallen Cardiff team that was forced to seek Football League re-election in 1934.

The law for goalkeepers to stand on the goal-line at penalties was because Farquharson would often run from the back of the net as the penalty-taker ran in.


Jimmy Nelson
Nelson enjoyed FA Cup joy and heartache with Cardiff

Jimmy Nelson

The son of a ship-builder was raised in Belfast and was picked for Ireland but on the verge of his international debut the Irish Football Association found out he was Scottish-born and ineligible to play.

Nelson, one of the best full-backs of his era, was both an FA Cup-winner and loser but during the opening game of the 1925-26 season he created an unwanted piece of club history at Manchester City, when he became the first Cardiff City player to be sent off.

Nelson played 271 games for Cardiff and became a Scottish football immortal in 1928, playing for the famous 'Wembley Wizards' Scotland team that trounced England 5-1 under the twin towers, a feat that still remains one of Scottish sport's greatest occasions.

In the summer of 1930, Nelson left South Wales when the Cardiff board accepted a £7,000 bid from Newcastle United.

But his love affair with Wembley continued as in 1932 he completed a treble, captaining Newcastle to FA Cup final victory - over Cardiff's 1927 Cup final victims Arsenal.

After a stint at Southend United he returned to Cardiff to run a pub.

Tom Watson
Watson's time with Cardiff was hit by injury problems

Tom Watson

The injury-cursed left-back displaced Jimmy Blair in the Cardiff team in 1925 and his solid displays earned him international honours for Northern Ireland.

He joined Cardiff on a freebie from Belfast Crusaders and the FA Cup-winning season was, fortunately for him, his most injury-free.

But his injury nightmare continued and he was released in 1929, returning to Northern Ireland to join Linfield.

He and fellow 1927 Cup winner Tom Sloan completed a remarkable hat-trick of cup victories at Linfield, adding the Irish Cup to their English FA and Welsh Cup winners' medals.


Fred Keenor
Keenor almost missed out on FA Cup glory with Cardiff

Fred Keenor (captain)

City's greatest and most inspiration leader in their history was Cardiff born and bred, signing for his home-town club as an amateur before the club turned pro in 1912.

Keenor was a private in the 17th Middlesex Battalion, the 'Footballer's Battalion', during the First World War and fought in the infamous Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The Roath boy was one of the three-quarters of a million men injured in the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, suffering shoulder and knee injuries.

He returned to Cardiff after the war and scored in the club's first league game, a 5-2 win at Stockport County, when Cardiff entered the extended Football League in 1920.

Keenor, who spent 19 years at his beloved Ninian Park, was an uncompromising tackler who boasted a tremendous will to win and captained Wales to Home International success in 1924, before skippering Cardiff to two FA Cup finals.

But he almost missed out on Cardiff's big day as he requested a transfer in the February after being dropped from the team but he rejected a move to Division Three South side Bristol Rovers who were the only club to bid for the defender.

Cardiff gave Keenor a free transfer to Crewe in 1931 but returned 'home' following a stint as player-manager at Oswestry Town and Tunbridge Wells Rangers, to be a storeman at Cardiff Corporation's building department.

The DIY expert also built his own house in the Whitchurch area of the city.

Tom Sloan
Sloan took time to settle at Cardiff but came good in the end

Tom Sloan

Cardiff signed the policeman from Irish League side Linfield in 1925 but Sloan struggled to retain a first-team place in his first seasons at Ninian Park as he was in direct competition with Keenor for the number five shirt.

But City learnt to accommodate both, Keenor on the right and Sloan in the centre to great effect during the 1927 FA Cup campaign as they were the platform to Cardiff's triumph in both the FA Cup and Welsh Cup final

The Ireland international was capped when in City's reserve team and rejoined Linfield, where he and fellow 1927 FA Cup winner Tom Watson secured a collectors' item of cup victories in Ireland, England and Wales.

Billy Hardy
Playing for Cardiff cost Hardy the chance to play for England

Billy Hardy

Hardy followed manager Fred Stewart to Cardiff from Stockport at the start of the club's 1911 Southern League campaign. Such was Cardiff's financial plight, Stewart himself had to pay the £25 transfer fee out of his own pocket.

Hardy was one of the great left-halves of his era but amazingly never won an England cap because of the Football Association's reluctance to pick players turning out for a club outside of England. He was, however, selected to represent the Football League versus the Irish League.

Private Hardy fought in the First World War and was a regular in the Southern League before the club attained Football League status in 1920 and was the only ever-present as they won immediate promotion to Division One.

Hardy played the last of his 585 first-team games, aged 41, in a 1-0 win over Gillingham in 1932 before he ended his 21-year stay at Ninian Park to become Bradford Park Avenue boss.


Ernie Curtis
Curtis was Cardiff's youngest FA Cup winner in 1927

Ernie Curtis

The apprentice electrician was persuaded to join Cardiff City from amateur side Cardiff Corinthians at the start of City's FA Cup-winning season.

Curtis, aged 19 years and 317 days, was the youngest FA Cup winner in 1927 and capped a dream season by winning Wales honours in a 2-2 draw against Scotland at Wrexham.

The outside-right joined Birmingham City in 1927 but the English club refused to release Curtis for Wales internationals.

He returned to Cardiff in 1933 but a wages dispute resulted in him returning to Birmingham to become a landlord before Coventry City rescued his career.

Curtis was in the Royal Artillery during World War Two but suffered four years as a Japanese prisoner of war after his capture in 1941.

He survived his ordeal and, following the war, became City's trainer. He remained on Cardiff's coaching staff until his retirement in the mid 1960s when he became a pub landlord.

He was the last surviving member of City's victorious Cup team when he died aged 85 in 1992

Sam Irving
Iriving did not stay long at Cardiff but enjoyed success there

Sam Irving

Cardiff was the well-travelled Irishman's 11th club when he joined in 1926 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Irving didn't stay longer than two years in South Wales.

But the inside-right secured immortality playing in Cardiff's FA Cup-winning team.

He left Ninian Park for Chelsea in March 1928 and established the London club as a First Division club before retiring to Dundee, where Irving managed a billiards saloon.

Hughie Ferguson
Ferguson's goals helped Cardiff to FA Cup glory

Hughie Ferguson:

The tiny Scotsman became a Cardiff giant when Ferguson scored the most celebrated goal in the club's history but his glorious story ended in tragedy.

The centre-forward's 74th-minute strike in the 1927 FA Cup final, which slipped under Arsenal's Welsh goalkeeper Dan Lewis, ensured the world's most famous domestic trophy left England for its one and only time.

Cardiff paid Motherwell a whopping £5,000 - bearing in mind the then record was the £6,000 Newcastle paid Airdrie for Hughie Gallagher - for Ferguson in 1925.

Ferguson's heroics in that season's FA Cup, scoring five en route to Wembley as well, ensured it was money well spent but, despite his prolific goalscoring abilities, he was never capped by Scotland.

Ferguson, who also scored the winner against Corinthians in the 1927 Charity Shield, is one of an elite few to have scored more than 350 league goals and his 26 league goals in the 1927 season was a record until Robert Earnshaw broke it in 2003.

Cardiff sold Ferguson to Dundee in 1929 for £700 on their relegation from Division One but constant back trouble meant the sensitive striker could not live up to fans' expectations and he descended into depression.

After being dropped from the Dundee side Ferguson, like his fellow countryman Gallagher did years later, committed suicide. On 9 January 1930, Ferguson gassed himself after a training session, aged only 32. He left a wife and two children.

Len Davies
Davies was good at finding the net but missed at a vital time

Len Davies

The qualified marine engineer is his home-town club's record all-time goalscorer but he is perhaps best remembered for the goal he didn't score.

Cardiff needed to beat Birmingham City on the final day of the season to win the 1924 League championship and were awarded a late penalty.

Fans favourite and Welsh international Davies, scorer of 128 league goals between 1920 and 1931, missed.

The game ended goalless to hand Huddersfield the title, beating Cardiff by a goal average of 0.024 goals - still the closest finish in English football history. If today's goal difference or goals scored rules applied, Cardiff would have won.

The presence of Davies, who also played youth cricket for Glamorgan, was a reason why Arsenal goalkeeper Lewis fumbled Ferguson's effort into the net for the 1927 FA Cup final winner.

Davies later worked in Liverpool helping wartime aircraft production died of pneumonia aged only 46 in 1945.

George McLachlan
Even an injury could not prevent McLachlan from his FA Cup glory

George McLachlan

The quick outside-left arrived from Scotland the same time as fellow countryman Ferguson for £3,000 from Clyde.

Many Football League clubs were interested in signing McLachlan but he was persuaded to join City as his father was captain of a ship that regularly called at Cardiff docks.

McLachlan recovered from a broken leg in 1926 to star in Cardiff's FA Cup triumph.

McLachlan left Cardiff for Manchester United in 1930 as Cardiff were relegated from the top division. In his four years at Old Trafford, McLachlan helped United establish themselves in the top division.

After spells with Chester City and French club Le Havre, he returned to Scotland to become manager of Queen of the South.

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see also
Jones backs Cardiff's Uefa claim
07 Apr 08 |  Cardiff
Uefa offers Cardiff Euro lifeline
07 Apr 08 |  Cardiff
Ledley eager for final challenge
06 Apr 08 |  Cardiff
Barnsley 0-1 Cardiff
06 Apr 08 |  FA Cup
Footage of 1927 FA Cup town tour
03 Apr 08 |  Mid Wales
Meet City's FA Cup slickers
03 Apr 08 |  Championship
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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