PART ONE: 1923-1949
Wembley Stadium opened its doors in 1923 at a time of national optimism.
It was built as the centrepiece of the British Empire Exhibition, intended to showcase Britain as a global commercial power.
The buoyant public mood saw over 200,000 fans flock to its first FA Cup Final, but the 1930s saw optimism wane as World War II approached.
From 1939-45, the stadium fell largely silent as the country underwent a sporting hiatus, but when the clouds of war parted, the fans returned in vast numbers, not just to FA Cup Finals and England matches, but also to the first post-war Olympics.
Photography from the Getty Images archive © getty images.
1923: THE WHITE HORSE FINAL
Wembley's first event is the famous ‘White Horse’ FA Cup Final where more than 200,000 fans flock in.
The famous final sees Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United to become the first team to win the FA Cup at Wembley. However, the defining image of the day is Billie the white horse clearing the crowds pre kick-off.
1924: BRITISH HOME CHAMPIONSHIP
Wembley hosts its first British Home Championship match, a now retired tournament between the four home nations. The first fixture – England v Scotland, ends in a 1-1 draw. This is England's solitary point in the tournament which is won by Wales.
1924: THE FIRST BOXING BOUT
In the first boxing bout to be staged at the stadium, American heavyweight Tom Gibbons knocks out British counterpart Jack Bloomfield in round three. 50,000 fans attend.
1925: RUGBY’S DEBUT
Rugby Union makes its debut at Wembley with an Army v RAF match. The game finishes 5-5.
1926: BOLTON’S DOUBLE CUP WIN
Bolton Wanderers become the first team to win two Wembley-staged FA Cup Finals. With 10 of the players who won the White Horse Final in 1923, they beat Manchester City by a single goal from David Jack.
Wembley stages its first greyhound meeting. It’s these regular meetings that keep the stadium financially viable.
1927: ABIDE WITH ME
‘Abide With Me’ is sung for the first time before The FA Cup Final and becomes its anthem.
1927: WELSH WINNERS
Cardiff City beat Arsenal 1-0 in the first final to be broadcast live on the radio. It’s also the only time to date The FA Cup has been won by a team not based in England.
1928: A RECORD ATTENDANCE
A new record attendance for a Wembley England men’s match is set, when 80,868 see the home side lose for the first time at the national stadium: 5-1 to a rampant Scotland side.
1929: THE RUGBY LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP FINAL
The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final makes its Wembley debut. Wigan beat Dewsbury 13-2. Speedway also takes a bow.
1930: THE GRAF ZEPPELIN
The ominous shadow of German passenger airship, the Graf Zeppelin, hovers over Wembley just after half-time in The FA Cup Final.
The 92,000 crowd watching Arsenal beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 are stunned into silence.
1931: THE FIRST GIANT KILLERS
West Bromwich Albion become the first club outside the top-flight to win The FA Cup.
In an all-Midlands’ affair, they beat Birmingham City 2-1.
1931: MICK THE MILLER
Arguably the most famous greyhound in history, Mick the Miller, performs a great greyhound-racing double. He wins the Wembley Spring Stakes and the St. Leger in the same year, both staged at Wembley.
1932: THE ‘OVER THE LINE’ FINAL
Newcastle United beat Arsenal 2-1 in what becomes known as the ‘Over The Line’ Final. Photographic evidence shows the ball was out of play before the Magpies’ Jimmy Richardson crossed for Jack Allen to level the scores in the first half.
1933: SHIRT NUMBERS
The FA Cup Final sees numbers on players’ shirts for the first time. Everton wear 1-11 and Manchester City 12-22.
Two teams from the American navy see baseball played at Wembley for the first – and only – time.
1935: JACK FALLS SHORT, TWICE
Welsh-born Commonwealth heavyweight boxing champion Jack Petersen (right) twice fights German heavyweight Walter Neusel at Wembley. Despite being favourite for both bouts, Petersen loses them both.
Wembley is the chosen venue for the first Speedway World Championships. It’s the first of 25 such finals the stadium will host, the last being in 1981.
1938: WEMBLEY ON THE SMALL SCREEN
The first FA Cup Final to be broadcast live on TV. Preston North End beat Huddersfield Town by a single goal.
1939-45: WARTIME FINALS
Wartime Cup Finals and unofficial England matches continue to be played.
The stadium doubles up as a temporary home for refugees.
One of the most notable wartime events is England v Scotland in 1941. In this image, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shakes hands with England footballer Denis Compton, who also played cricket for his country.
1946: POST-WAR FINALS
In the first FA Cup Final after WWII, the ball bursts! Derby County beat Charlton Athletic 4-1 after extra time.
1947: POST-WAR FINALS
Lightning does strike twice and in the FA Cup Final the ball bursts again! Charlton Athletic return as finalists, but this time beat Burnley 1-0.
1947: WALTER’S WEMBLEY DEBUT
The first England manager, Walter Winterbottom, is at the helm for his first international match at Wembley. It's a 1-1 draw with Scotland in the Home International Championship. He remains in charge until 1962, when Alf Ramsey succeeds him.
1948: THE OLYMPICS
Wembley is the stage for the showpiece events for the first post-War Olympics – track and field, football, hockey, lacrosse and equestrian events all feature.
One of the stars of the games is Francina 'Fanny' Elsje Blankers-Koen, a Dutch athlete who wins four gold medals. Her outstanding performance made her the most successful athlete of the event.
1949: FA AMATEUR CUP FINAL
Bromley beat Romford 1-0 in the first FA Amateur Cup Final to be played at Wembley. It later becomes The FA Vase.
*photo of 1953 FA Amateur Cup Final