In 1936 Arsenal became the most successful team during the 1930s in the FA Cup clinching the competition for the second time that decade after beating Sheffield United 1-0 from an unstoppable Ted Drake strike.
It was Arsenal’s last chance during the 1935/36 season to get their hands on some silverware after having lost the First Division to Sunderland by over ten points, finishing an anti-climatic sixth in the League after having won the League treble the previous year.
Arsenal started off their FA Cup campaign in the Third Round at Third Division side Bristol Rovers who were in for a complete romping. The Gunners all-time top-goalscorer, Cliff Bastin till 1997 when Ian Wright overtook his record of 178 strikes at Highbury against Coventry City grabbed two goals, with Drake netting two more and Ray Bowden securing the fifth in a 5-1 victory.
In the Fourth Round Arsenal travelled the 193 mile trip to Anfield to come up against Liverpool who they had trumped 8-1 the previous season at home in the league, with Drake grabbing four goals in the match. A 2-0 win with finishes from Ray Bowden and Joe Hulme sent The Gunners into the Fifth Round away to Newcastle United.
The men from Highbury had faced The Magpies in the 1932 final which they lost 1-2 after going a goal up at Wembley. Arsenal battled hard at St. James Park in a 3-3 draw thanks to two strikes from Bowden and a goal from Hulme to force at replay at Highbury. Arsenal would advance to the Quarter-Finals all due to two Bastin penalties in a lucky 2-0 display.
The Gunners couldn’t have had an easier toss up at home to Second Division team Barnsley. The clash witnessed Arsenal breeze past The Tykes 4-1, Bastin was at it again scoring two goals and so was Pat Beasley with another couple of hits.
In the Semi-Final The North Londoners faced a nearly four hour trip to Grimsby Town who only the previous season finished an impressive fifth in the First Division. In a nervy encounter Bastin scored his seventh goal in that year’s FA cup campaign which would prove to be enough to see Arsenal through to Wembley in a 1-0 win.
Leading up to the game the likelihood of Drake featuring in the line-up remained to be slim after having undergone a cartilage operation. Within the remaining 24 hours to kickoff he was selected despite injury still holding him back.
The final proved to be tougher versus Second Division outfit Sheffield United than iwe magined. The Blades mounted a strong attack and proved to show great resistance to break down until the final quarter of the match. After Bastin passed to Drake the player who proved unlikely for the occasion scored the winning goal which saw Arsenal lift the Cup for the second time in a row, beating Sheffield United 1-0. H
owever due to injury Drake struggled to celebrate with his fellow teammates when they were all parading around Wembley with the cup in their hands passing it along to one another. This didn’t stop him from remembering the event half a century later when speaking to a London Journalist, the aftermath of his goal was still fresh in his memory,
“I remember when I scored the winning goal, I shook hands with my teammates – we didn’t kiss and all that nonsense in those days”. He also recalled spotting his wife amongst the 93,384 spectators who had come to watch a thrilling match of football which they got in the end.
Liam Harding (Ted Drake’s great grandson)
Read Liam’s History of Ted Drake here “The best centre-forward in the world”