This is “a bloody shambles,” in the words of one spectator.
The annual Football Association Challenge Cup—the FA Cup—has been drawing smaller crowds ever since the end of the Great War.
So the Association thought they could hold this year’s final in the new stadium built for next year’s British Empire Exhibition on this site in Wembley. The stadium has been completed ahead of schedule, in only 300 days, just four days before this match, and it holds 125,000. That should be enough capacity. They won’t have to issue advance tickets.
FA Cup program
Boy, were they wrong.
Unusually beautiful weather and the fact that one of the London home teams is playing—West Ham United—combine to bring out over 115,000 local fans. And 5,000 or more supporters of the other side, Bolton Wanderers, take the train from Lancashire. Five more rent a plane and fly in from Manchester.
The gates open at 11:30 a. m. as planned and everything goes smoothly until around 1 p. m. when the crowd starts getting larger.
The roads surrounding the stadium are so filled, the Bolton team players get off their coach and walk the last mile.
The officials consider canceling the match but realize they will then have an angry crowd to deal with. At 1:45 p. m. they decide to close the gates, but after about a half hour of waiting, almost 75,000 fans left outside force their way in. Thousands in the lower tiers spill out onto the pitch.
At 2:45 p. m. King George V, 57, arrives, prepared to present the winning trophy at the end of the game. The crowd breaks into God Save the King and calms down.
King George V
The players finally enter the grounds a bit after 3 p.m. and try to help the police get the spectators off the field.
The local police send out calls for mounted police assistance and here comes off-duty Police Constable George Scorey, 40, astride Billy, a light grey horse. Scorey is concerned he won’t be able to disperse the crowd, but Billy comes to the rescue,
easing them back with his nose and tail until we got a goal-line cleared…He seemed to understand what was required of him,”
says Scorey. The game starts about 45 minutes late.
Billy helping with crowd control
About 1,000 people are injured, including two policemen; more than 20 are taken to hospital.
The police do their job and get the situation under control. The FA—not so much. They will have to refund money to those who were stuck outside.
Bolton beats West Ham, 2 nil. Bolton supporters celebrate in central London, jamming traffic around Piccadilly Circus.
Ten days before, in New York City, at precisely 3 p. m., conductor John Philip Sousa, 68, marches the Seventh “Silk Stocking” Regiment Band, playing The Star-Spangled Banner, on to the brand new field at Yankee Stadium for baseball’s opening day.
John Philip Sousa
The musicians are followed by politicians and players from the Boston and New York teams; Yankee star Babe Ruth, 28, is presented with an over-sized bat. New York Governor Al Smith, 49, throws out the first ball and lands it right in the center of the catcher’s mitt.
Opening day at Yankee Stadium
For the past 10 years the Yankees have been playing at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan, but they were just leasing that space from their rivals, the New York Giants. Things came to a head last year when the two teams faced each other in the World Series and all the games had to be played there. The Giants won.
Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, 55, had been looking for a new home for his team for years, and finally decided he would build and pay for it himself. Construction was finished in less than a year, and everything smells like new paint.
Babe Ruth and Jacob Ruppert
Baseball stadiums typically hold about 30,000 spectators; this one holds almost twice that. Today they announce attendance of 60,000, a new major league baseball record. Ruppert is betting that New York City can support three teams—Yankees, Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Ruth, who the Yankees bought from the Boston Red Sox three years ago, hits the first home run in the stadium, a three-run homer to the right field stands.
New York World sportswriter Heywood Broun, 34, quotes Ruth as dubbing the new Yankees home, “Some ball yard.”
Fred Lieb, 35, of the New York Evening Telegram calls it “The House That Ruth Built.”
The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4 to 1.
Yankee Stadium opening day program
To see why the Wembley game is known as the “White Horse Final,” click here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoMS8Q4XXBo
To see opening day at Yankee Stadium, click here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZc3_-3cY28
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Thoor Ballylee in Co. Galway, and as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer I will be talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.