1927 FA Cup Final (lost radio coverage of football match; 1927)

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Fred Keenor and his teammates celebrating with the trophy.

Status: Lost

The 1927 FA Cup Final culminated the 1926-1927 FA Cup season. Occurring on 23rd April 1927 in front of 91,206 at the Empire Stadium, the Final saw Cardiff City defeat Arsenal 1-0 to become to date the only non-English club to win the trophy. It is also significant for being the first FA Cup Final to receive live radio coverage.


Cardiff City and Arsenal, as Football League First Division members, entered the tournament in the Third Round Proper.[1] Cardiff's road to the Final saw it defeat Aston Villa, Darlington, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, and Reading.[1] Meanwhile, Arsenal's campaign consisted of it overcoming Sheffield United, Port Vale, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Southampton.[1] Heading into the Final, Cardiff had never won the trophy, losing its only previous Final appearance to Sheffield United 2-1 in 1925.[2][3] Arsenal too had never won the Cup, and was in fact making its debut Final appearance.[4] Every club that had won the trophy beforehand was from England.[5][6][7] Cardiff therefore were aiming to becoming the first non-English club and naturally the first Welsh team to achieve this accolade.[7][5][6] The Bluebirds held a critical advantage ahead of the game, as all of its first team bar Harry Wake were fit enough to compete.[8] Ernie Curtis was the only change made to the line-up, becoming the then-youngest player to feature at an FA Cup Final at 19.[8] Compared to its 1925 Final appearance, Cardiff were boosted with a new forward line-up while maintaining a similar defence.[5] In contrast, the Gunners faced a few injury concerns themselves, with Horace Cope ultimately being unable to play.[9]

Meanwhile, the BBC had made substantial progress in providing live radio coverage of football matches.[10][11][12][13] Earlier in 1927, it broke new ground by covering Arsenal's First Division match with Sheffield United on 22nd January.[10][11][12] The first FA Cup match to receive radio coverage came a week later, between Corinthians and Newcastle United.[14] A few weeks before the Final, on 2nd April, the first radio coverage of an international match occurred, featuring Scotland hosting England.[15] Providing the inaugural live coverage of the FA Cup Final was the BBC's next step, with leading commentator George F Allison selected to provide running commentary, his assistant being Derek McCullouch.[16][17][10][12][13][6] Notably, Allison would later become Arsenal's manager from 1934 to 1947, having been Chapman's assistant and later successor.[12][10] As with previous match broadcasts, a square system was devised by Radio Times; listeners could keep up with the action whenever McCullouch listed out which area play was occurring.[10][12] Around 15,000 alone attended Cardiff's Cathays Park to listen to the broadcast.[7] With so many inaugural British radio sports broadcasts being made in 1927, it led Radio Times to ponder whether radio was becoming just as important for sports fans as music lovers found it.[17] Additionally, this Final was the first to have the Christian hymn "Abide with Me" be sung prior to the match, being conducted as the climax of the concert that occurred before kick-off.[18][13][6]

The Match

The Final itself occurred on 23rd April; of over 300,000 applications to receive tickets for the Final, 91,206 would attend the encounter at the Empire Stadium.[6][5] Arsenal were the stronger side in the first-half, providing several challenges for the Cardiff defence.[19][6][5] The Daily Mirror sports reporter P.J. Moss noted Arsenal earned five corners within five minutes, but despite this Cardiff's defence remained resilient.[19][6][5] Arsenal captain Charles Buchan also set up three further chances, but his team did not capitalise on them.[19][6][5] The game was most certainly defensive-minded, with play receiving criticism from reporters for generally being inconsistent and boring.[19][6][5] Nevertheless, as Cardiff managed to ensure a goalless first-half, the club crucially gained confidence and began to slowly turn the tide of the game.[19]

While Arsenal's defence generally cancelled out most attacks, reporters noted Cardiff were a different team in the second-half.[19][6][5] The Daily Express' reporter claimed that as the game became more "like a football match after the interval", Cardiff were displaying signs that they were going to be victorious.[19] Still, as the game reached the 74th minute, it seemed extra-time was becoming an inevitable occurrence.[19][6][5] During that time period, Curtis made a pass to Hughie Ferguson on the edge of the penalty box, who made a low-powered shot that was seemingly easily saved by Arsenal's Dan Lewis.[19][6][5][7] As Lewis got up to throw the ball away, he suddenly slipped and lost possession of the ball.[19][6][5][7] In a desperate bid to reclaim it he only further accelerated the ball's momentum towards the Arsenal net.[19][6][5][7] It crossed the white line, giving Cardiff the lead.[19][6][5][7] Ultimately, Cardiff held on to claim its first and to date, only, FA Cup.[19][6][5][7]

Consequently, it has since become the only non-English team to earn the trophy, in a match deemed somewhat below expectations in quality.[19][6][5][7][2] It is said Lewis never really got over the loss, tossing his silver medal away upon believing he did not deserve it, and later claiming his new jersey had a sheen that caused the ball to slip from his hands.[19] Cardiff's win has been described as the Welsh club's peak accolade; since then, it has only reached one other FA Cup Final, losing the 2008 edition to Portsmouth 1-0.[19][6][2] Arsenal meanwhile won its first FA Cup in 1930 by beating Huddersfield Town 3-0.[6][19][4] It has since won a record 14 FA Cups.[4]


Ultimately, the radio broadcast occurred during a time period where the BBC lacked viable means of recording sound until it utilised the Blattnerphone and other devices to do so.[20][21] No audio from the broadcast is known to have survived. Nevertheless, substantial footage of the match was recorded by British Pathé and remains publicly viewable. Further, Columbia were responsible for producing a record that contained the entirety of the crowd singing "Abide With Me" and "Land of My Fathers".[22] These too have survived the years and can be listened to online.



British Pathé footage of the match.

Highlights of the match.

Columbia record playing "Abide With Me" sung prior to the match.


See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 RSSSF detailing the road to the Final. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Transfer Markt detailing Cardiff's trophy cabinet. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  3. FA Cup Finals detailing the 1925 FA Cup Final. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Transfer Markt detailing Arsenal's trophy cabinet. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 Archived FA Cup Finals summarising the match. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 History of Soccer detailing the match and other historic elements from the game. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Wales Online reflecting on Cardiff's victory 90 years on. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 Fred Keenor: The Man Who Never Gave Up noting Cardiff's line-up heading in. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  9. Arsenal noting Horace Cope could not compete due to injury. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Encyclopedia of British Football detailing the BBC's early radio coverage of football matches, noting Allison was its lead commentator back then. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  11. 11.0 11.1 BBC detailing its early football radio coverage, including the Arsenal-Sheffield United match. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Arsenal detailing its influence in radio football history. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 The British Football Film noting this was the first radio broadcast of the FA Cup Final and the first to have "Abide With Me" be sung. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  14. Bodleian Libraries detailing the BBC's coverage of the Corinthians-Newcastle United FA Cup match. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  15. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the 1927 Scotland-England international football match coverage. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  16. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the radio coverage of the match. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  17. 17.0 17.1 Issue 185 of Radio Times listing the radio coverage of the Final. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  18. In Tuneful Accord noting this was the first FA Cup Final with "Abide With Me" being sung. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 19.13 19.14 19.15 19.16 ESPN providing a report of the match and providing accounts from various reporters and players. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  20. BBC noting it had no viable means of recording sound until the introduction of the Blatterphone in 1930. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  21. BBC noting it did not start recording radio coverage until the early-1930s. Retrieved 4th Feb '23
  22. Listing of the Columbia record of the crowd singing prior to the match. Retrieved 4th Feb '23