Video: The Craziest Wembley Cup Final Ever

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 20 months ago
Video: The Craziest Wembley Cup Final Ever

It was probably the most remarkable cup final ever to take place at Wembley. And it had little to do with the game itself.

Back in 1923, crowd control at major events was lax to say the least. And so it was for the FA Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United that April, around quarter of a million football fans — some say it was more — squeezed into the hallowed arena. Which looked a bit like this...


...and this...

Double yikes

...and this...


"Only the magnificent restraint and good humour of the mingled masses of Northerners of Londoners saved an appalling disaster," chuckles the newsreel of the time. As people spilled out of the stands, they flooded onto the pitch, prompting a huge (yet tame) pitch invasion, the likes of which Wembley has never seen since.

Eventually the crowds were parted for play, thanks to the efforts of mounted police. In amongst the horses, one stands out — a glimmering white figure, which seems to canter straight out of fairy tale. It would later give this cup tie its nickname — the 'white horse' final.

As the crowds settled, cross-legged just behind the goal posts and sidelines, Bolton went on to put two goals past West Ham, and were awarded the cup from King George V. But it wasn't their win that would go down in history; at this particular match, it was the fans — and one horse — who were the stars of the show.

'Cup Final 1923' courtesy of BFI Britain on Film. Explore more archive collections on BFI Player.

Last Updated 23 May 2017