BY any stretch of the imagination the 1920's were a colourful decade. Two promotions and two relegations saw the club climb back to the heights of Division One and slump down to the previously unknown depths of the Third Division (North).
A championship was collected along the way and the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup were reached for the first time in 20 years.
There was the day when the players dashed between stranded trains and broken-down taxis to get to Blackburn in a Keystone cops-style caper which held the game up for half an hour and then abandoned with four minutes to go. A player from Burnley called Bob McGrory arrived at the Victoria Ground in 1921 and legend has it he thought twice about signing because he didn't like the look of the place or indeed Stoke-on-Trent in general. He signed...and didn't leave until 1952 after over 500 league and cup appearances and 17 years as manager!
There were regular derby games with Burslem Port Vale, elected to the League in place of Leeds City in 1919, and the Club became owners of their own stadium when the freehold to the Victoria Ground was acquired, culminating in the building of a new 12,000-capacity Butler Street Stand, reputedly the second largest of its kind in Britain, and pushing the overall capacity to 50,000. The decade saw Stoke finally equip themselves for big-time football both on and off the field, yet it was a roller-coaster ride throughout.
The Club finished third from bottom of Division Two in 1920-21 but a year later celebrated promotion back to Division One - for the first time since 1907 - as runners-up to Nottingham Forest. That lasted just one season and only Oldham, on goal average, kept them off bottom spot. After a mediocre 1923-24 relegation was avoided by just one point and one place the following year before the axe fell in 1926. Stoke finished next-to-bottom of Division Two and accompanied Stockport into Division Three (North) for the first time. Fortunately, it was a brief stay.
The championship was won 12 months later, with five points to spare over Rochdale and the Cub returned to Division Two where they challenged strongly for promotion for two of the next three seasons as the decade drew to its close. The highlight of the FA Cup was undoubtedly a run to the last eight in 1928, when Gillingham, Bolton and Manchester City were beaten before a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal at Highbury.