GGM 46: Mercer leads Arsenal to FA Cup win

The images of a smiling Joe Mercer being chaired around Wembley with the FA Cup in his hands are up there with the most iconic of 1950s football.

Mercer was the inspirational captain of an Arsenal side which, under the astute guidance of Tom Whittaker, beat Liverpool 2-0 at Wembley on April 29, 1950 to claim the famous old trophy for the third time in the Club's history.

Liverpool held the upper hand in the early stages of the Final but Arsenal, unusually sporting old gold shirts, got their noses in front after 17 minutes. Reg Lewis, whose place in the team had been in some doubt, repaid Whittaker's faith by taking Jimmy Logie's pass in his stride and beating Liverpool keeper Cyril Sidlow.

Stubbins went close with two headers as Liverpool fought back and Arsenal keeper George Swindin produced a fine save to deny Payne early in the second half. With Mercer outstanding and half-back Alex Forbes snuffing out dangerman Billy Liddell, Arsenal soaked up the pressure and then doubled their lead with a classic counter-attack.

Mercer started the move and Lewis was on hand to finish it off with a shot into the bottom corner after 62 minutes. It was his 18th goal of the season. Liverpool had won both league meetings between the sides earlier in the campaign but there was no way back for them this time.

Mercer led his triumphant team up the famous Wembley steps to collect the FA Cup from King George VI but almost walked down with a loser's medal after the Queen handed Arsenal's captain the wrong memento. The error was quickly corrected.

Mercer was quick to pay tribute to the Liverpool players when he was interviewed on the pitch; indeed, he knew Arsenal's opponents rather well. Liverpool had agreed to let Mercer use their facilities to keep in shape ahead of the Final because his job was based in Merseyside.

Of course, Mercer's access was restricted so he was not privy to Liverpool's tactics. Then again, the recently-crowned Footballer of the Year was in such fine fettle at Wembley that he didn't need to know.

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