Anger as Rugby League and Speedway left off Wembley 100 icons poster

0405 Wembley poster
Wembley 100 icons Credit: The FA

Wembley Stadium has been criticised by rugby league fans and speedway fans after the sports were omitted from a list of 100 stadium icons.

The stadium celebrates its 100th anniversary this year (the official 100th birthday was on April 28th, the date of the first FA Cup final in 1923, won by Bolton) and has released a poster featuring some of the stadium's most famous moments.

It includes famous English football images such as Chloe Kelly celebrating her winning goal at the Women's Euros final, Stuart Pearce's reaction to scoring a penalty at Euro 96, along with a whole host of pop stars who've played there including Freddie Mercury at Live Aid, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Take That, Harry Styles, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Liam Gallagher.

But there are no images of any rugby league players, despite the Challenge Cup final being synonymous with the national stadium.

The first was Wigan’s win over Dewsbury in 1929, and the final has almost always been held there ever since apart from during the Second World War era and when the stadium was knocked down and re-built.

Last season it was moved to Tottenham Hotspur's stadium due to a busy schedule at Wembley but will be back there for the 80th time this year.

The Challenge Cup final will be played at Wembley for the 80th time in August Credit: RFL

The snub hasn't gone un-noticed by fans on social media, with a whole host of angry tweets directed at the stadium.

Credit: Twitter

The snub is made all the more surprising by the fact there is a statue of five rugby league greats outside the stadium, which was unveiled in 2016.

The bronze piece features Eric Ashton, Billy Boston, Martin Offiah, Alex Murphy and Gus Risman, and was referenced by Wembley in a tweet, but only after the damage had been done.

The stadium tweeted: "The RFL continues to play a huge part in Wembley’s story, from its debut in 1929 to World Cup Final in 1995 and many Challenge Cup finals. We look forward to making more memories."

The RFL has tweeted its appreciation of the stadium saying: "Happy 100th Birthday to @wembleystadium.

"Rugby League is proud of our special relationship with the national stadium – and we can’t wait to return to make more memories this summer!"

The nod to speedway on Wembley stadium's website Credit: Wembley stadium/The FA

Speedway fans are also up in arms about the fact the sport has been ignored in the poster, despite the sport regularly attracting crowds of thousands.

The Speedway World Championship first featured at Wembley in 1936, the first of 25 finals the stadium hosted with the last being in 1981.

Liverpool born sports journalist and speedway expert Peter Oakes called the decision "appalling".

He said: "The poster looks as if it has been beautifully designed by someone who is unaware of the stadium’s real history and thinks it only began in the sixties or even seventies.

"Speedway was the sport that actually saved Wembley, as its owner Sir Arthur Elvin admitted, because it drew WEEKLY Thursday night crowds of 50,000 plus to watch Wembley Lions race league matches from 1929 until the late fifties.

"The revenue kept the stadium afloat for decades. There were probably more speedway matches held at Wembley than football games.

"What I find particularly annoying is there are seven or eight women footballers on the poster yet the first women’s international at Wembley was as recently as 2014!

"Also someone like Evel Knievel features and there are bands and solo artists who only appeared there once, yet speedway was part of Wembley’s fabric for over half a century and doesn’t get any recognition at all."

A section of the crowd at a speedway meeting at Wembley in 1947 Credit: PA

Belle Vue Aces had three world champions, Peter Craven, Ove Fundin and Ivan Mauger, all of whom won the title at Wembley while riding for the Aces.

Liverpool born Peter Craven won the title twice at Wembley, the first time in 1955 and the second in 1962.

At front of the tractor holding his £500 winner's cheque is Peter Craven after winning 1962 title. Norman Wisdom is driving the tractor Credit: PA

Ivan Mauger won two of his six world titles at Wembley.

His daughter Debbie Pritchard has used social media to say: "It’s simply appalling and so disrespectful to the Speedway fraternity especially those involved during the pioneering era of this great sport & all those that followed, who were all proud to race at Wembley".

There was also a similar slew of comments on social media from Speedway fans across the UK.

Credit: Twitter

While Speedway does get a mention on Wembley stadium's website, in the history section as yet there has been no response to ITV's request for a statement about Speedway being left off the poster.

But, in a recent interview stadium director Liam Boylan said he would like to see speedway back at the national stadium.

The last meeting at the old Wembley was the 1981 World Final, but now, the Football Association which owns the stadium is looking for extra events to bring in fans and money.

Liam Boylan said: "I was never a fan of it until I saw it on a tour, I saw it over the Principality, and inside there, the roar, that noise inside the stadium, was just something else.

"There was speedway near me where I grew up in Belle Vue, Manchester, but I never went to see it."

He explained speedway has never happened in the new stadium because of where the pitch is, but the decision to install a so called 'lay and play' pitch system means Wembley could host a round of the world championship Grand Prix series in November or December time.

Credit: Twitter

It's not only Rugby League and Speedway fans left disappointed by the poster.

The family of Wigan born wrestler, Davey Boy Smith aka The British Bulldog, have also hit out after the iconic WWE SummerSlam 1992 was left out.

The WWE event was headlined by Bret 'The Hitman' Hart defending the Intercontinental Championship against Smith was pay-per-view and attracted a crowd of more than 80,000 to Wembley stadium.

The main event between Hart and Smith, who were brothers-in-law has gone down in history as an all-time classic and saw Smith win.

Smith's daughter who now runs the British Bulldog Twitter account responded to Wembley with "Wow. How disappointing. You guys completely disregarded what my dad and Bret did, and the history they made there."

Credit: Twitter: TheBritishBulldog

Wembley has been contacted.

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