The Encylopedia of British Football

Ernie Curtis

Ernest (Ernie) Curtis was born in Cardiff on 10th June, 1907. He played local football in Wales before joining Cardiff City in 1926. Despite his young age, Curtis became the club's regular outside-left.

In 1927 Curtis was a member of the side that reached the FA Cup Final against Arsenal. With 17 minutes to go, Hughie Ferguson hit a shot at the Arsenal goal that struck 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."

Ernie Curtis, 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."

Jack Butler and Tom Parker watch Dan Lewis letting the ball slip under his body.
Jack Butler and Tom Parker watch Dan Lewis letting the ball slip under his body.

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. Curtis therefore became the youngest player ever to win a FA Cup winners medal.

Curtis never played for Cardiff City again as he was transferred to Birmingham City at the beginning of the 1927-28 season. Over the next six years he scored 44 goals in 165 games. He also won 3 international caps playing for Wales. Curtis also played for Coventry City (1934-36) and Hartlepool United (1937-38).

During the Second World War Curtis served in the British Army in the Far East. In 1941 he was captured by the Japanese Army and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp.

Ernie Curtis, who worked at Cardiff City as a trainer, died in 1992.