Arsenal won their first FA Cup in 1930 and, ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea this weekend, I was looking through reports on Arsenal’s previous finals when I stumbled upon a story about a coach trip to the final that went very wrong.

26th April 1930: Arsenal captain Tom Parker holding the FA Cup after beating Huddersfield 2-0 at Wembley. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
26th April 1930: Arsenal captain Tom Parker holding the FA Cup after beating Huddersfield 2-0 at Wembley. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

‘KILLED ON THE WAY TO WEMBLEY’ cries the headline from The People on Sunday, 27 April, the day after Arsenal had won their first-ever FA Cup.


The People, Sunday April 27 1930
The People, Sunday April 27 1930

‘When a motor-coach bringing people from Manchester to London for the Cup Final ran into a stationary lorry near Rugby yesterday, a London man was killed and three Lancashire people and a London woman were injured.

‘From The People’s Correspondent. •Rugby, Saturday.

‘A motor-coach on the regular service between Manchester and London collided with a stationary lorry yesterday near Willoughby. Rugby.

‘A man. believed to be Mr. C. A. Merrill, Coles-rd., Forest Hill London, was killed.

‘Four persons were injured –

‘Mr. Simon Howarth, South-St., Heywood. Lancs, fractured left ankle.

‘Mrs Jones, sister of Mr. Howarth, compound fracture of the legs, head injuries, and abrasions to face and hands.

‘Mr. Joseph Barton. Pell-st., Hale, Lancs, injuries to head and face.

‘Mrs. Bertha Dawson. Redcliffe-rd., London. S.W., fractured left leg and left forearm.

‘The coach ran into the rear of the lorry. Its near side, including the seats, were ripped away, and it overturned, tipping the passengers into the road.

‘Passing motor-vans took the injured to hospital.

‘The side of the coach was marked “Cup Final Excursion — 1930’.

You might also notice, just below this story in the page above, the headline ‘NEW STADIUM FOR LONDON’. This is the announcement that Brigadier-General Critchley, “the man who first brought greyhound racing to London, proposes to give the sportsmen of the metropolis another surprise,” by building Earl’s Court.

“The man whose income is between £200 and £1,000 a year is the most neglected member of the community of this country,” he said, “and it is he for whom I propose to build and start a new stadium in the autumn.”

He expected to spend around £50,000 to ensure it was equipped to host boxing and, rather surprisingly, ice-hockey, with the British Ice Hockey Association expected to make their headquarters there.

In 1930.

Earl's court as it once was
Earl’s court as it once was

Despite the Brigadier’s grand plans, Earl’s Court wasn’t completed until 1937 and, despite it’s art moderne structure, was demolished in 2017. It is now no more than wasteland.

earls court demolished

“The Earl’s Court Area Action Group believes the decision, despite wide-spread opposition, to demolish the Earls Court Exhibition Centres was wrong,” they write on their website,

“We campaigned to save an asset that was of vital importance to the capital’s and our national economy. The Earls Court Exhibition Centres represented 30% of London’s and 16% of the UK’s vital exhibition space bringing in over £1.25bn per year.

“Their demolition has been an act of economic, social, environmental and cultural vandalism which must be redressed for the sake of London’s and the UK’s economy. Reduced footfall, steep increases in business rates and rents as well as uncertainty over the Earls Court Masterplan’s future has led to an economic downturn in the Earl’s Court area.

“We now campaign for “the world’s greenest venue” to be built so we have the replacement venue promised to local residents, showcasing green technologies such as solar panels, living walls and anaerobic digestion.

“This exciting multi-purpose venue “green from the pips up™,” would be constructed where the excellent public transport links which serve the Earls Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area are easily accessible.

“Unlike the current Earls Court Masterplan which straddles the two boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, we envisage step free access to the site from Earl’s Court tube station.

“We also campaign for low-rise, high-density, exemplary green housing to be built on the site. During a housing crisis, it is unacceptable that the site is currently empty with no temporary housing available.

“It is shameful that not one council home is planned to be built on the empty 22-acres on the Kensington and Chelsea part of the site.

“We envisage green housing for all with a range of housing options – including council housing, homes for key workers, family-sized homes to homes for the elderly and the disabled – alongside provision of community, social infrastructure and green space.”

I think the Brigadier would have been a supporter…