12:05 31 July 2012
By Stoke City Football Club
Stoke played at The Victoria Ground for more than 119 years – from March 1878 to May 1997 – and by doing so, established a record of staying the longest period of time at one ground in English football history.
The Vic was part of the Stoke Victoria Athletic Club’s ground, and was initially oval-shaped; comprising a large running track with a fair-sized playing-area in the centre on which the primary sport played was cricket.
The first organised football match to take place there was the inaugural Staffordshire FA Senior Cup Final against neighbours Talke Rangers on 28th March 1878, where a crowd of 2,500 witnessed a 1-0 win for the home side following their move from the nearby Sweeting's Field.
On 8 September 1888, Stoke played their first ever Football League game – at home to West Bromwich Albion. The Vic played host to 4,524 spectators, who were unfortunate to witness a 2-0 defeat. The visitors subsequently became the first team to head the new League table.
After Stoke dropped out of the Football League in 1908, the ground was declared one of the poorest in the Football League – this forced the Club into some action, and by the time they returned to the top division in 1919, the Vic boasted two covered terraces and a 1,000-seater stand.
1956 saw the installation of floodlights, with none other than fierce rivals Port Vale being the visitors in a Second Division clash to declare them switched on. The Valiants were left in the shadows of their opponents, though, as Stoke ran out 3-1 winners in front of a bumper crowd of 38,729.
Vale had to host a Stoke City home game in 1976 after an extraordinary gale hit the city of Stoke-on-Trent, causing a home league game against Middlesbrough to be moved there after the roof of The Vic’s Butler Street stand was ripped off. Although this was later replaced, it proved to be very costly for Stoke as prized assets were sold on to balance the books.
Further developments were made as the commercial opportunities grew in football, with the Stanley Matthews Suite being built in 1987. A new two-tier stand was built at the Stoke End of the ground, containing 4,000 seats, then following two years on, before a club shop and promotions office complex annexed were onto the stand in 1992.
Plans for a £5m ground redevelopment were shelved during the 1996-97 season when the Club announced plans for a new ground, the Britannia Stadium, at nearby Trentham Lakes.
In a twist of fate, the final league game at the Victoria Ground on 4th May 1997 came against West Bromwich Albion, their first ever opponents. This time it was Stoke who came out top, recording a 2-1 victory on an emotional day for 22,500 supporters.
First Game At The Victoria Ground
28th March 1878
versus Talke Rangers - Won 1-0
Inaugural Staffordshire Senior Cup Final
First FA Cup Game At The Victoria Ground
10th November 1883
versus Manchester - Lost 2-1
First Qualifying Round
First Potteries Derby Game At The Victoria Ground
5th October 1887
FA Cup 1st Round
First Football League Game At The Victoria Ground
8th September 1888 (4,524)
versus West Bromwich Albion - Lost 2-0
First Football League Goalscorer At The Victoria Ground
Joe Wilson for West Bromwich Albion
versus Stoke City
8th September 1888
First Stoke City Football League Goalscorer At The Victoria Ground
versus Notts County - Won 3-0
22nd September 1888
Last Competitive Game At The Victoria Ground
4th May 1997 (22,500)
versus West Bromwich Albion - Won 2-1
Last Stoke City Goalscorer In A Competitive Game At The Victoria Ground
versus West Bromwich Albion
4th May 1997
Last Goalscorer In A Competitive Game At The Victoria Ground
Andy Hunt for West Bromwich Albion (penalty)
versus Stoke City
4th May 1997
Full Internationals Played At The Victoria Ground
England 4 Wales 1
23rd February 1889
England 6 Wales 0
13th March 1893
England 3 Ireland 1
18th November 1936