A Welsh schoolboy international in 1921, Cardiff born inside left Ernie Curtis was playing amateur football with Severn Road Old Boys and for Cardiff Corinthians in 1925, while also working as an electrician, when he signed for First Division hometown club Cardiff City in 1926, making his Football League debut against Manchester United that September and winning both the FA Cup in his first season. In so doing he became the youngest ever winner of the FA Cup to that date and the first teenager to play in an FA Cup Final when he played in the 1927 FA Cup Final at Wembley for Cardiff City aged 19 years and 317 days as Cardiff famously beat Arsenal 1-0. A few weeks later he also lifted the Welsh Cup when Cardiff City beat Rhyl 2-0 in the Final.
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.”
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.”
The following season, Curtis made his international debut for Wales on 29th October 1927, scoring in a 2-2 draw with Scotland at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. Curtis also played in the 1927 FA Charity Shield as they beat The Corinthians 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on 12th October 1927 before signing for Birmingham in March 1928 after 9 goals in 52 appearances. He had six years with the St Andrews club and played for them in the 1931 FA Cup Final when they lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion at Wembley. He was recalled to the team for his third and final Welsh cap in October 1931 and scored twice as they lost 3-2 to Scotland at Wrexham,
After 53 goals in 182 appearances for The Blues he returned to Cardiff City in the summer of 1933, who had by now been relegated two divisions into the Third Division (South) but soon found himself in a dispute with the club over wages and retired from football for a short while after a further 6 goals in 17 appearances for The Bluebirds, before returning early in 1935 to play for Coventry City. He scored twice in 23 appearances over three seasons at Coventry before he finished his career at Hartlepools United playing 16 times and scoring once for The Monkey Hangers in 1937-38, retiring in the summer of 1938 after a single season at The Victoria Ground. He scored 3 goals in 3 Welsh international appearances spread out over 6 years between 1927 and 1933.
During the Second World War Curtis served in The Royal Artillery in the Far East. In 1941 he was captured by the Japanese Army and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp. He survived the ordeal and after returning home from the war, he became Cardiff City’s trainer in the late 1940’s. He would occupy various positions at the club until he retired in the mid-1960’s.