Manchester United Football Club - History & Notable Players

Stoke City FC

Stoke City logo


  • Name: Stoke City Football Club

  • Nickname: The Potters

  • Founded: 1863 (as Stoke Ramblers FC)

  • Renamed: 1878 to Stoke Football Club

  • Renamed: 1928 to Stoke City FC

  • Ground: bet365 Stadium

  • Ground capacity: 27,740


picture of Stoke City with League Cup

Stoke City F.C. was formed in 1863 under the name Stoke Ramblers, when pupils of Charterhouse School formed a football club while apprentices at the North Staffordshire Railway works in Stoke-upon-Trent. The club's first documented match was in October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground. Henry Almond, the club's founder, was also captain, and scored the club's first ever goal. During this period they played at the Victoria Cricket Ground; however, they switched to a nearby ground at Sweetings Field in 1875 to cope with rising attendances.

In 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke Football Club. They moved from their previous ground, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground, which soon became known as the Victoria Ground. It was around this time that the club adopted their traditional red-and-white striped kit. In August 1885, the club turned professional.

Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League when it was introduced in 1888. The club struggled in their first two seasons, 1888–89 and 1889–90, finishing bottom on both occasions. In 1890 Stoke failed to be re-elected and joined the Football Alliance, which they won and thus were re-elected to the Football League.

Stoke spent the next 15 seasons in the First Division and reached the FA Cup Semi-Final in the 1898–99 season before being relegated in 1907. Stoke went bankrupt and entered non-league football until 1914, when the First World War meant the Football League was suspended for four years. During the wartime period, Stoke entered the Lancashire Primary and Secondary leagues. When football recommenced in August 1919, Stoke re-joined the league.

The club became owners of the Victoria Ground in 1919. This was followed by the construction of the Butler Street stand, which increased the overall capacity of the ground to 50,000. In 1925, Stoke-on-Trent was granted "city status" and this led the club to change its name to Stoke City F.C. in 1928.

The 1930s saw the debut of club's most celebrated player, Stanley Matthews. Matthews, who grew up in Hanley, was an apprentice at the club and made his first appearance in March 1932, against Bury, at the age of 17. By end of the decade, Matthews had established himself as an England international and as one of the best footballers of his generation. Stoke achieved promotion from the Second Division in 1932–33 – as champions – however Matthews only featured in fifteen games in this season. He did however score his first goal for the club in a 3–1 win against local rivals Port Vale.

By 1934, the club's average attendance had risen to over 23,000, which in turn allowed the club to give the manager Tom Mather increased transfer funds. The club was now considered one of the top teams in the country. It was in this period that the club recorded its record league win, a 10–3 win over West Bromwich Albion in February 1937. In April of that year, the club achieved its record league crowd – 51,373 against Arsenal. Freddie Steele's 33 league goals in the 1936–37 season remains a club record.

Title challenge and league decline

Following the resumption of the FA Cup after World War II, tragedy struck on 9 March 1946, as 33 fans died and 520 were injured during a 6th round tie away against Bolton Wanderers. This came known as the Burnden Park disaster. In 1946–47, Stoke mounted a serious title challenge. The club needed a win in their final game of the season to win the First Division title. However, a 2–1 defeat to Sheffield United meant the title went to Liverpool instead. Stanley Matthews left with 3 games remaining of the 1946–47 season, opting to join Blackpool at the age of 32.

picture of Stoke City advertising Stoke were relegated from the First Division in 1952–53; during the season Bob McGrory resigned as the club's manager after 17 years in the role. Former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Frank Taylor took over at the club looking to gain promotion back to the First Division. However after seven seasons in the Second Division without promotion, Taylor was sacked.

The Tony Waddington years

Tony Waddington was appointed as the club's manager in June 1960. He joined the club in 1952 as a coach, before being promoted to assistant manager in 1957. Waddington pulled off a significant coup by enticing Stanley Matthews – then 46 years old – back to the club, 14 years after he had departed. The return of Matthews helped Stoke to an improved 8th position in 1961–62. Promotion was achieved in the following season, with Stoke finishing as champions. In their first season back in the 1st Division, 1963–64, Waddington guided Stoke to a mid-table finish. Matthews remained influential, as he helped the club to the final in 1964, which they lost to Leicester City over two legs.

Waddington counted on experience; Dennis Viollet, Jackie Mudie, Roy Vernon, Maurice Setters and Jimmy McIlroy were all players signed in the latter stages of their careers. Matthews was awarded a knighthood for services to football in the 1965 New Year's Honours list.

This was followed by his 701st, and final, league appearance for the club against Fulham in February 1965, shortly after his 50th birthday. Gordon Banks, England's 1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper, joined in 1967 for £52,000 from Leicester. Regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, Banks proved to be a shrewd signing for Waddington as he helped the club maintain stability in the 1st Division. For one season in 1967, Stoke City F.C. was imported as the Cleveland Stokers of Cleveland, Ohio playing in the United Soccer Association. The team emerged as runner-up of the Eastern Division, falling one point short of the championship final.

The club won its first major trophy on 4 March 1972 in the League Cup Final. Stoke beat favourites Chelsea 2–1 in the final at Wembley Stadium in front of a crowd of 97,852 spectators. Preceding this victory, Stoke had progressed through 11 games in order to reach the final. This included four games with West Ham United in the semi-final; the two-legged tie was replayed twice. Stoke fared well in the FA Cup; the club progressed to the semi-final stage in both the 1970–71 and 1971–72 seasons. However, on both occasions Stoke lost to Arsenal in a replay. Stoke City also became the first First Division side to play a match on a Sunday, when they faced Chelsea on 27 January 1974.

In January 1976 the roof of the Butler Street Stand was blown off in a storm. The repair bill of nearly £250,000 put the club in financial trouble; key players such as Alan Hudson, Mike Pejic and Jimmy Greenhoff were sold to cover the repairs. With the team depleted, Stoke were relegated in the 1976–77 season. Waddington, after a spell of 17 years in charge, left the club after a 1–0 home defeat to Leicester in March 1977.

The managerial roundabout

Waddington was replaced by George Eastham in March 1977; however, he could not prevent the club's relegation to the Second Division in 1976–77. Eastham left in January 1978, after only 10 months in charge, and was replaced by Alan Durban from Shrewsbury Town. Durban achieved promotion to the First Division in the 1978–79 season, but after consolidating the club's position in the First Division he left to manage Sunderland in 1981. Ritchie Barker was appointed for the 1981–82 season but was sacked in December 1983. and replaced by Bill Asprey. Asprey decided to bring back veteran Alan Hudson, and the decision paid off as an improved second-half of the season saw Stoke avoid relegation on the final day of the 1983–84 season.

The 1984–85 season proved to be disastrous. Stoke finished the season with only 17 points, with just 3 wins all season. Mick Mills was appointed player-manager for the 1985–86 season, but was unable to sustain a challenge for promotion and was sacked in November 1989. His successor, Alan Ball, Jr. became the club's 5th manager in 10 years.

Ball struggled in his first season in charge, 1989–90, and Stoke were relegated to the third tier of English football after finishing bottom of the Second Division. Ball kept his job for the start of the following season, 1990–91, but departed during February 1991, in an indifferent season that saw Stoke finish 15th in the Third Division. Stoke's lowest league position in the Football League.

Ball's successor, Lou Macari, was appointed in May 1991, prior to the start of the 1991–92 season. He clinched silverware for the club; the Football League Trophy was won with a 1–0 victory against Stockport County at Wembley, with Mark Stein scoring the only goal of the game. The following season, 1992–93, promotion was achieved from the third tier. Macari left in October 1993 to be replaced by Joe Jordan; Stein also departed, in a club record £1.5m move to Chelsea.

Jordan's tenure in charge was short, leaving the club less than a year after joining, and Stoke opted to reappoint Lou Macari only 12 months after he had left. Stoke finished 4th in 1995–96 but were defeated in the play-off semi-final by Leicester City. Macari left the club at the end of the season; his last game in charge was the final league game at the Victoria Ground. Mike Sheron, who was signed two years previously from Norwich City, was sold for a club record fee of £2.5m in 1997.

The Britannia Stadium and the Icelandic takeover

1997–98 saw Stoke move to its new ground, the Britannia Stadium, after 119 years at the Victoria Ground. Chic Bates, Macari's assistant, was appointed manager for the club's first season in the new ground. He did not last long though, and was replaced by Chris Kamara in January 1998. Kamara could not improve the club's fortunes either, and he too left in April. Alan Durban, previously Stoke's manager two decades earlier, took charge for the remainder of season. Despite his best efforts, Durban was unable to keep the club up, as defeat on the final day of the season consigned Stoke to relegation from Division One.

Brian Little, formerly manager of Aston Villa, took charge for the 1998–99 season. Despite an impressive start, the team's form tailed off dramatically in the latter stages of the season, which led to Little leaving the club at the end of the season. His successor, Gary Megson, was only in the job for four months. Megson was forced to depart following a takeover by Stoke Holding, an Icelandic consortium, who purchased a 66% share in Stoke City F.C. for the sum of £6.6m. Stoke became the first Icelandic-owned football club outside of Iceland. Stoke appointed the football club's first overseas manager, Gudjon Thordarson, who helped Stoke City win the Football League Trophy and earn promotion to the First Division in 2001–02.

picture of old Stoke City advertising The Auto Windscreens Shield was won in the 1999–2000 season, in April 2000, with a win over Bristol City in front of a crowd of 85,057 at Wembley. Thordarson achieved promotion at the third time of asking in 2001–02. A second successive 5th-place finish ensured a play-off spot. Cardiff City were defeated in the semi-final before a 2–0 win against Brentford at the Millennium Stadium secured promotion. Despite achieving the goal of promotion, Thordarson was sacked by Gunnar Gíslason only days after the club won promotion.

Steve Cotterill was drafted in as Thordarson's replacement prior to the start of the 2002–03 season, but quit in October 2002 after only 4 months in charge. Tony Pulis was appointed as Stoke's new manager shortly after. Pulis steered Stoke clear of relegation, with a 1–0 win over Reading on the final day of the season keeping the club in the division. However, Pulis was sacked at the end of the 2004–05 season, following disagreement between himself and the club's owners.

Dutch manager Johan Boskamp was named as Pulis' successor on 29 June 2005, only a day after Pulis was sacked. Boskamp brought in a number of new players from Europe but despite his spending his side was inconsistent, and only a mid-table finish was achieved. Boskamp left at the end of the 2005–06 season, amidst a takeover bid by former-chairman Peter Coates. On 23 May 2006, Coates completed his takeover of Stoke City, marking the end of Gunnar Gíslason's chairmanship of the club. Coates chose former manager Tony Pulis as Boskamp's successor in June 2006. Pulis took Stoke close to a play-off place, but an eventual 8th-place finish was achieved in the 2006–07 season.

Return to top-flight football

Stoke won automatic promotion to the Premier League on the final day of the 2007–08 season, finishing in 2nd place in the Championship. A defeat to Bolton Wanderers on the opening day of the season meant bookmaker Paddy Power paid out on Stoke to be relegated, but the team's fortunes quickly changed. Stoke managed to turn the Britannia Stadium into a "fortress", making it difficult for teams to pick up points there. In their first home game, Stoke managed to beat Aston Villa 3–2, and wins also came against Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion. After a 2–1 win at Hull City, Stoke confirmed their place in the Premier League as the "Potters" finished 12th in their return to the top flight, with a total of 45 points. Stoke finished the following 2009–10 season in a respectable 11th place, with 47 points. Stoke also made it to the quarter finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1972, beating York City, Arsenal and Manchester City before losing out to eventual winners Chelsea.

A 3–0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the 2010–11 season gave Stoke two new records; their largest away win in the Premier League, and their largest top division away win since 1982. It was also the first time since the 1983–84 season that Stoke had won three top-flight matches in a row. with manager Pulis hailed the new records as "a fantastic achievement". Stoke reached the FA Cup Final for the first time, beating Cardiff City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham United and a famous win of 5–0 against Bolton Wanderers (the biggest post war FA Cup Semi-Final victory). However, they lost the final 1–0 to Manchester City. By reaching the final, Stoke qualified for the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League.

In the UEFA Europa League Stoke advanced past Hajduk Split, FC Thun, and a tough group containing Beşiktaş, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv which Stoke managed to progress through finishing in second position. City's reward was a tie against Spanish giants Valencia and despite putting up a spirited 2nd leg performance Stoke went out 2–0 on aggregate. In the Premier League Stoke made the high-profile signing of Peter Crouch as they finished in a mid-table position for a fourth time. The 2012–13 season saw Stoke make little progress, and Pulis left the club by mutual consent on 21 May 2013. He was replaced by fellow Welshman Mark Hughes who signed a three year contract on 30 May 2013. Hughes led Stoke to a ninth place finish in 2013–14, their highest position in the Premier League and best finish since 1974–75.

On 6th Jan 2018, Stoke City announced that Mark Hughes had been sacked.

On 15th January 2018, Paul Lambert signed a two-and-a-half-year contract as the new Stoke manager. However, it was not enough to ensure survival for Stoke, and they were relegated from the Premier League finishing in 19th place.

The bet365 Stadium

picture of Britannia Stadium snow scene
  • Tenants: Stoke City 1997 - present
  • Capacity: 27,740 - Opened: 1997

The Britannia Stadium is an all-seater football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England and the home of Premier League club Stoke City F.C.. It has space for 27,740 spectators (reduced from 28,384 due to segregation). The stadium was built in 1997 at a cost of £14.7 million as a replacement for the Victoria Ground. The name is taken from the sponsors of the stadium, the Britannia Co-operative Bank. Along with hosting football matches, the stadium has played host to performers such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and Elton John. The ground also holds conference and banqueting suites, the Delilah's Bar, and a club shop selling Stoke City merchandise.

The highest attendance recorded at the stadium was 28,218 for the sell-out fixture against Everton in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie in 2002. The first goal in the stadium was scored by Graham Kavanagh for Stoke in a league cup game against Rochdale. The club had played at the Victoria Ground until 1997. Former player Sir Stanley Matthews' ashes were buried beneath the centre circle of the pitch following his death in February 2000; he had officially opened the stadium on 30 August 1997.

The all-seater stadium cost nearly £15 million to build and brought the club up to standards with the Taylor Report of January 1990 to end 119 years at the Victoria Ground. Relocation had been considered by 1994 and by early 1996 the decision to build a new stadium had been confirmed.

By early 1997, the skeletal steel superstructure was in place and the stadium began to take shape. In August 1997 it opened its doors for the first time as the Britannia Stadium thanks to a £1million, 10-year sponsorship deal with the Britannia Building Society which was instrumental in the overall funding of the project. Another £3,000,000 was given as a grant by the Football Trust.

The Stadium's opening didn't go according to plan, as from the outset there was concern about actually getting there, as the plans covered only one access road from the nearby A50. That meant spectators arriving from the City or the motorway had to travel up the A50 for over a mile to a roundabout at Sideway and double-back the other way, which caused huge congestion problems. The official opening of the stadium was made by club legend Sir Stanley Matthews, then aged 82. After he died in February 2000, his ashes where buried beneath the stadium's centre circle and a statue showing different stages of his career was put up in his honour outside the ground. On 27 August 1997, Rochdale were the visitors for the historic first-ever competitive match a 1–1 draw in the League Cup watched by 15,439 - and four days later the first-ever league game took place against Swindon Town before a crowd of 23,859. The first season at the new ground was a bad one as Stoke were relegated from Division One and the supporters protested against chairman Peter Coates.

Four seasons of third tier football followed with Gunnar Gíslason taking control of the club in November 1999. In May 2006 he sold control of the club back to Peter Coates and soon after the Club obtained full ownership of the stadium in a deal worth £6 million following the previous joint-partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd.

The Victoria Ground

picture of Stoke City Victoria Ground 1878 - 1997
  • Tenants: Stoke City F.C. 1878 – 1997
  • Capacity: 56,000 standing 25,000 sitting - Opened: 1878 - Closed 1997

The Victoria Ground had been Stoke City's home since March 1878 and the first match was a friendly against Talke Rangers on 28 March 1878, Stoke won 1–0 before 2,500 spectators. The ground took its name from the nearby Victoria Hotel and was originally an oval shape, built to accommodate a running track and used by the local athletic club. There was an open grass bank at each end, and a small but compact wooden stand on the east side (Boothen Road) capable of housing 1,000 people.

Opposite this stand was another bank which could hold 4,000. The ground remained this way for 30 years during which time Stoke had become members of the Football League. Stoke suffered financial difficulties and dropped out of the league in 1908 and attendances varied during their time out. Stoke got back in to the league in 1919 and the ground had now been improved considerably. There were two good sized grandstands and an extra wooden one which was situated opposite the main stand and could hold 1,000 supporters.

The players changing rooms were set in the corner of the ground which also included a stove so players could keep warm. Above the changing 'hut' was the directors box, a rather primitive building but could hold around 12 people. During the early 1920s a new, mainly wooden main stand was erected alongside the 'hut' and this could hold 2,000 fans. By 1930 Stoke had added 'City' to their name and the Boothen End was terraced and later covered, and consequently the ground lost its oval shape.

1935, when the likes of Stanley Matthews was beginning to draw in the crowds, the Butler Street Stand was built, giving seating to 5,000 people. In front of the seats was a small paddock, room for another 2,000 and it took the ground capacity to around the 45,000 mark. A record crowd of 51,380 packed into the Victoria Ground on 29 March 1937 to watch a First Division match against Arsenal. During World War II the Butler Street Stand was used as an army storage camp.

picture of demolition of Victoria ground Floodlights were installed at the ground in 1956 and local rivals Port Vale marked the 'official' switching on ceremony by playing Stoke in a friendly on 10 October 1956. In 1960 another new main stand was built and the dressing rooms were revamped. In the summer of 1963 concrete was laid on the paddock terracing and it was the Stoke players who helped lay it as part of a team bonding scheme. More improvements continued in the 1960s and the ground remained in a good condition until January 1976.

Over the weekend of the 3/4 January 1976, with Stoke playing Tottenham Hotspur away in the FA Cup, gale force winds of hurricane force battered the Stoke-on-Trent area and especially the Victoria Ground for around eight hours.

The strong winds blew a section of the roof off the Butler Street Stand leaving only the west corner intact. Top priority was to put the roof back in order that the replay against Tottenham could take place on 7 January. However, on the day of the match as workmen were replacing timber supports and erecting scaffolding, some of the supports collapsed and a number of workers were injured.

The match itself was cancelled on safety grounds. Stoke had to play one home league match against Middlesbrough at Vale Park on 17 January and the Victoria Ground was reopened by 24 January in time for Stoke to play Tottenham in the cup.

The final improvements to the ground were made during the 1980s with the Stanley Matthews suite being opened as well as a new club shop and offices. With many clubs converting to all-seater stadium due to the Taylor Report the club drew up plans to meet the requirements at the Victoria Ground. However the Club instead decided to build a new ground and so in 1997 Stoke left the Victoria Ground after 119 years for the new modern 28,000 seater Britannia Stadium.

The stadium was renamed on 1 June 2016 when the club entered into a new stadium-naming rights agreement with its parent company, bet365.

picture of wikipedia logo

Paul Lambert

picture of Paul Lambert

The Facts

Stoke City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863 the club changed its name to Stoke City in 1925 after Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status.

They are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and are one of the founding members of the Football League.

Stoke play in the Premier League after winning promotion in 2008; prior to this Stoke had not participated in top-flight football for twenty-three years. Their first, and to date only, major trophy was won in the 1972 Football League Cup Final, when the team beat Chelsea 2–1.

The club have won the Football League Trophy on two occasions, first in 1992 and most recently in 2000. The club's highest league finish in the top division is 4th, which was achieved in the 1935–36 and 1946–47 seasons.

Stoke have competed in European football in 1972–73, 1974–75; and most recently in 2011–12. Stoke played in the FA Cup Final in 2011, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and has reached three FA Cup semi-finals, in 1899 then consecutively in 1971 and 1972.

Stoke's home ground is the Britannia Stadium, a 27,740 all-seater stadium. Before the stadium was opened in 1997, the club was based at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878.

The club's nickname is 'The Potters', named after the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent and their traditional home kit is a red and white vertically striped shirt, white shorts and stockings.

Stoke's traditional rivals are Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst their local rivals are Port Vale with whom they contest the Potteries derby.

For further information check out their Official website or their Fan Forum

Notable Players

picture of Sir Stanley Matthews 1932 - 47 1961 - 65

Sir Stanley Matthews 1932 - 47 1961 - 65

picture of Gordon Banks - Stoke City - 1967 to 1972

Gordon Banks - 1967 to 1972

picture of Jimmy Greenhoff Stoke City 1969 - 76

Jimmy Greenhoff 1969 to 1976

picture of Denis Smith 1968 to 1982

Denis Smith 1968 to 1982

picture of Denis Smith 1968 to 1982

Denis Smith 1968 to 1982

picture of John Richie 1962 - 66 1969 - 75

John Richie 1962 - 1966 1969 - 1975

picture of Eric Skeels Stoke City 1959 - 1976

Eric Skeels 1959 - 1976