40. Alex James inspires FA Cup victory

Alex James

James return inspires Gunners to first major trophy in 1930

A major turning point in Arsenal’s modern history can be traced right back to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, January 25, 1930.

Herbert Chapman’s side were playing in an FA Cup Fourth-Round tie against Birmingham City. The match ended 2-2 after goals from Cliff Bastin and David Jack, but Arsenal had been poor, not just in that game but over the preceding weeks.

They had won only five of their last 20 games and Alex James had been dropped from the side. However, Chapman spoke with James that evening and told him that Arsenal could not succeed without him, and that the entire season and both of their futures rested on the replay against Birmingham.

James was restored to the side and the replay was won 1-0 with a goal from Alf Baker — a history maker in his own right who went on to become the only Arsenal player to play in all 11 positions for the club in competitive football.

The Gunners went on to reach the Cup Final that year and beat Huddersfield 2-0 to clinch their first major trophy. James was on the scoresheet at Wembley.

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