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100 years: The Empire Stadium, Wembley is opened to the public for the first time

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Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 28th April, 2023 2 min read

100 years: The Empire Stadium, Wembley is opened to the public for the first time and holds the FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United football clubs

Today (28/04/2023) marks 100 years since The Empire Stadium (Wembley) opened to the public for the first time, hosting the FA Cup Final, which was played between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. The match was attended by King George V, who presented the trophy to FA Cup champions, Bolton Wanderers, after they beat West Ham by two goals to nil. 

Unfortunately for Bolton, the day is primarily remembered for the chaotic preceding events, rather than the football match. The FA hadn’t considered ticketing the event, which proved problematic when an estimated 300,000 people piled into the 125,000-capacity stadium. The terraces overflowed, with spectators spilling onto the pitch and causing kick-off to be delayed by 45 minutes. Eventually, police horses succeeded in guiding spectators to the perimeter of the pitch, where they remained for the rest of the match. During half-time, players struggled to reach the dressing rooms due to the crowds. Instead, they waited five minutes on the pitch before starting the second half.

The match is often dubbed “The White Horse Final”, referring to ‘Billie’, a grey horse ridden by PC George Scorey, who helped to clear the pitch. The legacy of the match is prominent today, as evidenced by a 2005 public poll that chose “White Horse Bridge” as the name for a new footbridge near the modern Wembley Stadium.

1923 FA Cup Final: Mounted police keep an excess of 300,000 fans from spilling onto the Wembley pitch, including constable George Scorey and his white horse Billy.


Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.


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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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