Born in Maerdy, Glamorgan, goalkeeper Dan Lewis first played for local club Maerdy in 1922, before moving to London and joining Clapton Orient. He spent 1923-24 on the Orient staff without making a first team appearance, and in August 1924 he joined First Division Arsenal. He made his Football League debut for The Gunners on 15th November 1924 against Everton; Arsenal won 3-2 and Lewis remained for the next thirteen games. However, after letting in five in a match at home to Huddersfield Town on 14th February 1925, Lewis was dropped.
After Herbert Chapman arrived as Arsenal manager in 1925, Lewis shared goalkeeping duties with Jock Robson and Bill Harper, but Lewis gradually became the club’s No. 1, particularly after Robson and Harper left in 1926 and 1927 respectively. He won his first cap for Wales in a 3-3 draw against England on 12th February 1927. In all he won three caps, the last of which was a 6-0 defeat by England at Stamford Bridge on 20th November 1929.
The most infamous moment of Lewis’ Arsenal career was the 1927 FA Cup Final, against Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium; it was the Gunners’ first FA Cup final, which they lost 1-0 thanks to an error by Lewis. In the 74th minute, Cardiff striker Hughie Ferguson hit a tame shot straight at Lewis, who dived down to make what should have been a comfortable save. However, Lewis fumbled the ball as he gathered it, and it slipped between his body and the crook of his elbow; Lewis turned around and tried in vain to reclaim the ball but only succeeded in knocking it with his elbow into the back of the net. Cardiff won the match 1-0, the only time a Welsh club has won the FA Cup, ironic given Lewis was a Welsh international himself. Lewis blamed his brand new jersey for the error, saying the wool was too greasy for him to grip the ball properly; since then, according to club legend, no Arsenal goalkeeper has played in a new jersey before it is washed first.
Lewis continued to play as Arsenal’s regular goalkeeper for the next three seasons. However, when they reached Wembley for their second Cup Final in 1930, Lewis was injured and had major surgery on a knee, injured in the famous 6-6 draw with Leicester City 5 days before, having played in the 2 matches that had decided the semi final against Hull City and most of the games that season. He never fully recovered from this injury which effectively finished his football career. Arsenal beat Huddersfield 2-0 to claim their first major trophy. Lewis didn’t feature at all the following season (Arsenal’s first League title season), particularly after the signings of Bill Harper (for a second spell) and Gerard Keizer. He was transferred to Gillingham in May 1931, where he played 6 times in the late summer and autumn of 1931 before hanging up his gloves. In all he played 167 matches for Arsenal.
NB in the image Lewis sits with Arsenal team mate Eddie Hapgood.