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OFFICIAL club website of stoke city

2000-2009 The Decade Of Success

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WEMBLEY Final and Play-Off Final victories followed by the arrival of Tony Pulis see Stoke rise from the third tier of English football to return to the top flight after a wait of 23 years.

City landed their first trophy of the 21st century, the Auto Windscreens Shield, at Wembley in April 2000.

Goals from Graham Kavanagh and Peter Thorne beat Bristol City before 75,000 - over half from the Potteries - and maintained a 100 per cent record at the national stadium.

That was sweet enough,but nowhere near as sweet as the victory at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in May 2002 in the Second Division Play-Off Final.

Defeat to Gillingham in the Second Division Play-off Semi-Finals in May 2000 was a disappointment, as was defeat to Walsall twelve months later, but 2002 proved third time lucky.

The 2-0 victory over Brentford clinched a return to Division One after a four-year absence and confirmed the ambition of the Club's new Board of Directors, led by chairman Gunnar Gislason, for more success.

In May 2002 there were further major changes when Steve Cotterill, after significant success at Cheltenham Town and considered one of the best young coaches in the country, succeeded Gudjon Thordarson as manager, only to leave in October 2002 to join Sunderland as assistant manager.

He was succeeded by former Gillingham, Bristol City and Portsmouth boss Tony Pulis, who made an immediate impact when he helped the Club avoid relegation back to Division Two after a season-long struggle.

Five years later and Pulis, now enjoying his second stint in charge, led the Potters back into the top flight for the first time in 23 years after finishing runners-up to West Bromwich Albion in the Coca-Cola Championship.

Many thrilling games were enjoyed in the first year back, none more so than the opening game of the season - a 3-2 win over Aston Villa where Mamady Sidibe headed home Rory Delap's trademark long throw in the last minute to earn the victory.

The position amongst the country's footballing elite was secured with a 2-1 win at fellow promoted side Hull City in the April of 2009 with City going on to make a fantastic 12th place finish in their debut Premier League season.

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