Date: 31st October 2012 at 8:51am
Written by:

FA Cup – 14th January 1933

One of the biggest upsets in the history of the FA Cup, was when 3rd Division Walsall met Arsenal at Fellows Park in 1933.

At the time of the match, Walsall were languishing in Division 3 South and Arsenal were seen as the Barcelona of today – no one could touch them, they were the greatest the world had seen. The story of this day will be told over and over again to all our children and childrens children (….well until we knock Barcelona out the Champions League!)

Cliff Bastin, Arsenal`s winger was quoted as saying “the Third Division footballer may not be a soccer artist, but when it comes to the heavy tackle, he ranks with the best.” – This is something that still rings true today and something that the overpaid players really cant grasp hence why we still get the odd one or two giant killings today.

He also added “Arsenal disliked playing Third Division sides for they would fling themselves into the game with reckless abandon, and the gashed bruised legs of the Arsenal players would bear grim testimony to their misguided enthusiasm”.

The teams were:

1 Cunningham
2 Bennett
3 Bird
4 Reed
5 Leslie
6 Salt
7 Coward
8 Ball
9 Alsop
10 Sheppard
11 Lee.

1 Moss
2 Male
3 Black
4 Hill
5 Roberts
6 John
7 Warnes
8 Jack
9 Lambert
10 James
11 Bastin.

Weeks before the game, Arsenal lost three of their most influential players to a bout of the flu. Herbert Chapman decided that despite two of them being fit and well enough to play he would adapt the usual ‘big club’ attitude and rest them for the league. He drafted in three reserve players and took Walsall lightly, the rest is history…..

Under Chapman, Arsenal played in a ‘WM’ formation and funnily enough it was the team from the West Midlands that found a way through his system.

In the first ten minutes, Arsenal were awarded many ‘dodgy’ free kicks, that no-one thought were. Referee’s in favour of the big teams? That wouldnt happen now….. Drafted in reserve striker, Charlie Walsh had a chance to put Arsenal 1-0 up but his inexperience paid the price as he mis-timed his jump and the ball hit him on the shoulder and fell lamely into Cunningham’s arms, a free header that should have punished Walsall.

HT Walsall 0-0 Arsenal

In the second half, Walsall centre forward, Gilbert Alsop headed in the first goal from Coward’s corner. That man will be forever remembered by the Walsall faithful. They say when the goal was scored, the cheering was heard from our neighbours in Dingle central! Arsenal missed many chances until Arsenal defender, Tommy Black lost his head inside his own box and the resulting foul produced a penalty, and Sheppard scored to put the result beyond doubt.

FT Walsall 2-0 Arsenal

Herbert Chapman, the Arsenal manager, was in a state of shock and promptly banned Tommy Black from Highbury, and then a few weeks later transferred him to Plymouth.

The Daily Mail released this infamous quote ‘The crowd were almost mad with excitement and the players were carried shoulder high off the field. Thus a struggling Third Division team created a sensation of the century.’

Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman died one year later of pneumonia.

At the Emirates you will be able to see the statue of the legendary Herbert Chapman and within the museum there is a head bust of the great man.

This game will live with us forever. This was the day Walsall made history and sent shockwaves through English football and the world stood up and took notice of this club from the Black Country.


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