West Ham United at Wembley – Part 1, the early years


There’s now less than a week to go before the 2012 Championship play-off final, one of the most important days in the great history of West Ham United. It is also the first time we have played at the new Wembley Stadium – here is part one of a nostalgic look back at the most significant of our previous trips to the original Wembley, the Empire Stadium.

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1923 – FA Cup Final versus Bolton Wanderers

Prior to the temporary move to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, no FA Cup Final build-up on TV was complete without showing clips of the famous first Cup Final to be played at the “new” Wembley when around 120,000 people crammed into the 100,000 capacity stadium and many thousands were left outside. It seemed like the whole of the East End’s male population, mostly wearing traditional suits and hats or caps, had made their way there that day & nothing would deter them getting inside for this momentous occasion, my grandfather being one of them.

Turnstiles and perimeter walls did not stop them gaining entry, many simply climbing over, some even helping those that followed. So many supporters got in that they covered the perimeter and even much of the pitch until the famous Policeman on the White Horse proceeded to push them back beyond the touchlines and eventually enable the game to be played. Although we lost 2-0, the name of West Ham United would forever remain synonymous with Wembley history.

Visit link below to view archive footage from this final;

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1940 – Football League War Cup Final versus Blackburn Rovers

When Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939, the government immediately imposed a ban on the assembly of crowds and Football League competition was brought to an end. On 14th September they gave permission for friendlies to be played with crowds first limited to 8,000 and later to 14,000 providing they paid at the turnstile on the day of the game. After a travelling limit of 50 miles was also imposed, a regional competition was organised. West Ham competed in a group of 8 teams that included Arsenal, Chelsea, Millwall & Tottenham Hotspur and eventually qualified to play Blackburn Rovers in the first war-time final played at Wembley on 8th June 1940. The game kicked off at 6.30pm and despite the threat of bombing by the Luftwaffe, attracted a crowd of over 42,300, mostly eastenders, one of whom was my dad who was 18 years old at the time. This day held happy memories for him and all the other Hammers fans who attended as we scored our first Wembley goal and achieved our first win at this world famous stadium. A goal from Sam Small settled the contest 1-0 in our favour and West Ham had secured their first significant trophy.

Visit link below to view archive footage from this final;

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