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The Tragic Story of Dan Lewis and Hughie Ferguson


John Simkin
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In 1927 Arsenal played Cardiff City in the FA Cup Final. Arsenal, the best team in the country at the time, were hot favourites to win the cup. However, Cardiff's defence managed to stop Arsenal from scoring. With 17 minutes to go, Hughie Ferguson hit a shot at the Arsenal goal that was partly blocked by Tom Parker and the ball slowly rolled towards Dan Lewis, the goalkeeper. As Lewis later explained: "I got down to it and stopped it. I can usually pick up a ball with one hand, but as I was laying over the ball. I had to use both hands to pick it up, and already a Cardiff forward was rushing down on me. The ball was very greasy. When it touched Parker it had evidently acquired a tremendous spin, and for a second it must have been spinning beneath me. At my first touch it shot away over my arm. I sent my hand after it and touched it. I may have sent it quicker over the goal line with this touch but I think it would have reached it in any case."

Ernie Curtis, Cardiff's left-winger, later commented: "I was in line with the edge of the penalty area on the right when Hughie Ferguson hit the shot which Arsenal's goalie had crouched down for a little early. The ball spun as it travelled towards him, having taken a slight deflection so he was now slightly out of line with it. Len Davies was following the shot in and I think Dan must have had one eye on him. The result was that he didn't take it cleanly and it squirmed under him and over the line. Len jumped over him and into the net, but never actually touched it."

In the words of Charlie Buchan: "He (Lewis) gathered the ball in his arms. As he rose, his knee hit the ball and sent it out of his grasp. In trying to retrieve it, Lewis only knocked it further towards the goal. The ball, with Len Davies following up, trickled slowly but inexorably over the goal-line with hardly enough strength to reach the net."

Soon afterwards, Arsenal had a great chance to draw level. As Charlie Buchan later explained: "Outside-left Sid Hoar sent across a long, high centre. Tom Farquharson, Cardiff goalkeeper, rushed out to meet the danger. The ball dropped just beside the penalty spot and bounced high above his outstretched fingers. Jimmy Brain and I rushed forward together to head the ball into the empty goal. At the last moment Jimmy left it to me. I unfortunately left it to him. Between us, we missed the golden opportunity of the game." Arsenal had no more chances after that and therefore Cardiff City won the game 1-0.

After the game Lewis was so upset that his mistake had cost Arsenal the FA Cup that he threw away his loser's medal. It was retrieved by Bob John who suggested that the team would win him a winning medal the following season. Herbert Chapman believed that Lewis was the best goalkeeper at the club and he retained his place in the team the following season. However, some fans openly accused Lewis of deliberately allowing the shot to slip from his grasp in order to help his fellow countrymen win the cup.

Arsenal also reached the 1930 FA Cup Final. Dan Lewis had played in six of the seven ties on the way to the final. However, Herbert Chapman took the controversial decision of dropping him from the team. Arsenal won the game 2-0 with goals from Alex James and Jack Lambert. Lewis was devastated by Chapman's decision and asked for a transfer. He was eventually sold to Gillingham.

Hughie Ferguson continued to score goals for Cardiff (77 in 117 games) until he moved back to his native Scotland in

Ferguson scored 77 goals in 117 games for Cardiff before joining Dundee in 1929. He had a disappointing beginning to the 1929-30 season and the supporters barracked him relentlessly. He was dropped from the team and sank into a deep depression. Ferguson committed suicide on 9th January, 1930. He was aged 32 years old and left behind a wife and two children.

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  • 2 months later...

There is a clip currently on youtube, filmed within a few yards from behind the goal, which conclusively shows what occurred. It's intriguing that only Charles Buchan described it correctly.

Here ya go...

In 1927 Arsenal played Cardiff City in the FA Cup Final. Arsenal, the best team in the country at the time, were hot favourites to win the cup. However, Cardiff's defence managed to stop Arsenal from scoring. With 17 minutes to go, Hughie Ferguson hit a shot at the Arsenal goal that was partly blocked by Tom Parker and the ball slowly rolled towards Dan Lewis, the goalkeeper. As Lewis later explained: "I got down to it and stopped it. I can usually pick up a ball with one hand, but as I was laying over the ball. I had to use both hands to pick it up, and already a Cardiff forward was rushing down on me. The ball was very greasy. When it touched Parker it had evidently acquired a tremendous spin, and for a second it must have been spinning beneath me. At my first touch it shot away over my arm. I sent my hand after it and touched it. I may have sent it quicker over the goal line with this touch but I think it would have reached it in any case."

Ernie Curtis, Cardiff's left-winger, later commented: "I was in line with the edge of the penalty area on the right when Hughie Ferguson hit the shot which Arsenal's goalie had crouched down for a little early. The ball spun as it travelled towards him, having taken a slight deflection so he was now slightly out of line with it. Len Davies was following the shot in and I think Dan must have had one eye on him. The result was that he didn't take it cleanly and it squirmed under him and over the line. Len jumped over him and into the net, but never actually touched it."

In the words of Charlie Buchan: "He (Lewis) gathered the ball in his arms. As he rose, his knee hit the ball and sent it out of his grasp. In trying to retrieve it, Lewis only knocked it further towards the goal. The ball, with Len Davies following up, trickled slowly but inexorably over the goal-line with hardly enough strength to reach the net."

Soon afterwards, Arsenal had a great chance to draw level. As Charlie Buchan later explained: "Outside-left Sid Hoar sent across a long, high centre. Tom Farquharson, Cardiff goalkeeper, rushed out to meet the danger. The ball dropped just beside the penalty spot and bounced high above his outstretched fingers. Jimmy Brain and I rushed forward together to head the ball into the empty goal. At the last moment Jimmy left it to me. I unfortunately left it to him. Between us, we missed the golden opportunity of the game." Arsenal had no more chances after that and therefore Cardiff City won the game 1-0.

After the game Lewis was so upset that his mistake had cost Arsenal the FA Cup that he threw away his loser's medal. It was retrieved by Bob John who suggested that the team would win him a winning medal the following season. Herbert Chapman believed that Lewis was the best goalkeeper at the club and he retained his place in the team the following season. However, some fans openly accused Lewis of deliberately allowing the shot to slip from his grasp in order to help his fellow countrymen win the cup.

Arsenal also reached the 1930 FA Cup Final. Dan Lewis had played in six of the seven ties on the way to the final. However, Herbert Chapman took the controversial decision of dropping him from the team. Arsenal won the game 2-0 with goals from Alex James and Jack Lambert. Lewis was devastated by Chapman's decision and asked for a transfer. He was eventually sold to Gillingham.

Hughie Ferguson continued to score goals for Cardiff (77 in 117 games) until he moved back to his native Scotland in

Ferguson scored 77 goals in 117 games for Cardiff before joining Dundee in 1929. He had a disappointing beginning to the 1929-30 season and the supporters barracked him relentlessly. He was dropped from the team and sank into a deep depression. Ferguson committed suicide on 9th January, 1930. He was aged 32 years old and left behind a wife and two children.

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There is a clip currently on youtube, filmed within a few yards from behind the goal, which conclusively shows what occurred. It's intriguing that only Charles Buchan described it correctly.

Here ya go...

Thank you for that Mark. I will add it to my pages on Lewis and Ferguson. It will make an excellent source-based exercise for the history classroom.

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I wish they'd had History lessons like that in the 1970's John. On a slightly different tact, I seem to recall the phrase 'back to square one' was associated with that game. Perhaps even originated from it...

<<Thank you for that Mark. I will add it to my pages on Lewis and Ferguson. It will make an excellent source-based exercise for the history classroom.>>

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I wish they'd had History lessons like that in the 1970's John. On a slightly different tact, I seem to recall the phrase 'back to square one' was associated with that game. Perhaps even originated from it...

You are right. BBC radio broadcast its first commentary on a professional football match in January 1927 when it featured a game between Arsenal and Sheffield United. Later that year the BBC broadcast the FA Cup Final. To help the listeners work out what was going on, a drawing of a pitch, covered in numbered squares, was printed in the Radio Times. During the game, the commentator's assistant called out the number where the ball was. As a result, the commentator described a passback as "back to square one."

By 1931 the BBC was broadcasting over 100 games per season. At this time only about 30% of households owned radios. Another interesting fact about this was that the BBC commentator was George Allison, who later became manager of Arsenal replacing the great Herbert Chapman when he died. Allison had been a member of the Arsenal staff for some time and had learnt a great deal about how to manager a football club from Chapman. (So it was not really like appointing John Motson as manager). When Allison retired he handed over to Tom Whittaker, who was also a member of Chapman's team.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARSENALallison.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARSENALchapman.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARSEwhittaker.htm

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