For the first time, both domestic cup finals featured the same teams. Arsenal had beaten Sheffield Wednesday in March to win the League Cup (in its Coca Cola guise). My mind’s eye, albeit influenced by alcohol at the time, tells me this was a poor affair. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that I have never watched the entire 120 minutes since.
Hillsborough, April 1988. Arsenal had beaten Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup by a Nigel Winterburn goal en route to Wembley but this was a routine First Division match. 16,681 hardy souls were rewarded with Wednesday racing into a three goal lead, only for a Paul Merson brace and a single Alan Smith goal saved a point for Arsenal.
Not a match I attended that season – a 24 hour charity darts marathon was edging toward its conclusion – but I remember the sinking feeling as the radio reported Wednesday breaching the Arsenal backline repeatedly, coupled with the euphoria of each Arsenal goal.
It was the better of the three cup finals between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday that season, by a long way. Yet instead of being remembered for the football, the unlikely Arsenal hero that day, Steve Morrow, is remembered for being on the end of Tony Adam’s jape and ending the afternoon of his life in hospital.
On this day in 1930, two months after making his official first team debut, Cliff Bastin scored the first of a record breaking 178 goals for The Arsenal.
The Devonian had scored twice in a friendly against Nottingham Forest but did not feature in the starting XI until the visit to Goodison Park on 5th October 1929. He played in the following match against Derby County but had to wait until the Boxing Day visit of Portsmouth to Highbury before he sealed a regular place in the first XI. He had to wait two more games before scoring against Sheffield Wednesday. The rest, as they say, is history.
Sheffield Wednesday may not currently occupy a place at the top table of English football but at this point in time, they were one of the most successful clubs in the professional game.
They were undefeated at home en route to winning the title in 1928-29 and successfully defended it. They would finish third three times in the subsequent four seasons, as well as adding the 1935 FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. The magnitude of Arsenal’s win on this day should not be understated.
There is an interesting coincidence between the two clubs. In 1927-28, Wednesday finished in 14th place with 39 points before going on to win the title in the following campaign. Arsenal would finish 1929-30 in 14th place with 39 points before…well, you’ve guessed where this one is going, haven’t you?