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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK


Sport

Sporting shrine inspired generations of stars

200,000 fans packed into the first Wembley FA Cup final.

When the first FA Cup Final was staged at Wembley in 1923, more than 200,000 fans packed into the stadium to watch Bolton Wanderers take on West Ham United.

Thousands spilled onto the pitch and the game was in danger of being abandoned had it not been for the intervention of a lone mounted policeman.


[ image: The White Horse Final of 1923]
The White Horse Final of 1923
On his horse Billie, PC George Scorey slowly pushed the masses back to the sides of the pitch so the match could start.

Within three minutes David Jack had put Bolton ahead and they went on to win 2-0.

The scoreline was quickly forgotten by many but the actions of PC Scorey were not. To this day the game is still known as the 'White Horse Final'.

But while its role as the home of the FA Cup Final secured Wembley's place in football folklore - the stadium has an important place in the history of a host of other sports.

Gone to the dogs

Before the Second World War it was greyhound racing and speedway which paid the bills.


[ image: A wartime England rugby union team played Scotland in 1942]
A wartime England rugby union team played Scotland in 1942
The war prevented Wembley from hosting the 1944 Olympic Games but four years later the owners brought the games to London.

Star of the event was Dutch housewife Fanny Blankers-Koen who won four gold medals - on a running track made from cinders from the fireplaces of the city of Leicester.

Mohammed Ali staged one of his greatest fights in the Wembley bowl. Having been laid out by Henry Cooper in the fourth round, Ali was saved by the bell and came back to get the fight stopped in the fifth.

Northern delights

Rugby League's showpiece Challenge Cup Final first came to Wembley in 1929 and quickly joined the FA Cup as one of the stadium's carnival days.


[ image: Live Aid raised $100m for poorer countries]
Live Aid raised $100m for poorer countries
The stadium's role as a powerful symbol of celebration was encapsulated by Live Aid in 1985 when Sir Bob Geldoff brought together scores of bands for a huge open air concert which raised $100m for the developing world.

But English football had claimed Wembley as its own long before then.

Never more so than when England hosted the 1966 World Cup.

Alf Ramsay's men played all their games at Wembley to set up an epic final against Germany which is still described as one of the most exciting ever.


[ image: They think it's all over....]
They think it's all over....
The crossbar which played such a crucial role in Geoff Hurst's decisive but disputed goal in England's extra-time win is still kept in the Wembley museum.

While that symbol of English football's finest hour may live on, the stadium's twin towers which have come to mean so much to the game, will not.



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