OVER 4000 spectators were treated to a spectacular 45-minute set from British pop sensations JLS on Sunday evening . . . as they brought the curtain down on ‘The Britannia Stadium Big Event’ in truly spectacular fashion.
The four-piece boy band, who recently announced their intentions to split up at the end of the year, performed a number of hits in what was their first ever performance in Stoke-On-Trent, including numbers ones ‘Beat Again’, ‘Love You More’, ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ and ‘Everybody In Love’.
The 2008 X-Factor runners up headlined the hugely successful event, with local bands and dance groups entertaining the crowds during the course of the day, whilst the Stoke City Legends v Celebrity Allstars side football match proved to be another major highlight.
Mark Stein, who was recently voted in to the Club’s Greatest XI as part of the 150-year celebrations, scored four goals on his return to the pitch, helping the Potters to a resounding 7-2 victory over their celebrity counterparts.
It was JLS who stole the show however, with their spectacular finale, and all four band members were overwhelmed at the reception they were given from their adorning fans in the Potteries, just hours after completing a similar set at Old Trafford.
“Wow, Stoke is loud,” Aston Merrygold told Stoke City Player following the bands blockbuster performance.
“Those guys certainly know how to make some noise. It was incredible to be here in Stoke performing for our fans, and whilst this is our last year we will hopefully be able to come back again.”
“Hopefully next time we can even get a little kick around on the pitch too,” quipped Marvin Humes. “No on a serious note it was absolutely incredible out there, and it caps off an absolutely brilliant day for us.”
Fellow band members Oritse Williams and J.B. Gill added: “It’s a hectic schedule for us at the moment, we seem to be here there and everywhere, but this is the build up to our last ever tour and we want to perform everywhere we can for our amazing fans.
“We were at Old Trafford earlier today and that was fantastic, and to come here and perform at a second Premier League venue in the same day really is special. We have been looked after incredibly well, and on behalf of the band I just want to thank everybody for the wonderful hospitality today.
"We hope our fans enjoyed the performance, and we will hopefully see them on our farewell tour later in the year.”
Earlier in the afternoon a Stoke City Legends side, which included the likes of Mark Stein, Wayne Biggins and Steve Simonsen, took on the LivSmarter Allstars – a celebrity eleven that featured the recently crowned Soap Awards Best Actor Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs), as well as his Coronation Street co-stars Chris Fountain (Tommy Duckworth) and Ryan Thomas (Jason Grimshaw), as well as Hollyoaks' Nick Pickard (Tony Hutchinson).
The Potters displayed their experience and class to record an emphatic victory, with Stein in-particular rekindling the magic that he displayed in the red and white stripes so often at the Victoria Ground in the 1990s.
“It was fantastic to be out there this afternoon in front of the supporters, and to score four goals in front of them made it even more special for me,” the 47-year-old said following the match.
“It’s been an incredible few weeks for me having been invited down to the stadium for the game against Tottenham, getting named in the Club’s greatest eleven, and now scoring four goals in front of the fans at the Britannia Stadium Big Event.
“Being out there alongside the likes of Wayne Biggins again, who I haven’t played with for what must be 25-years really was incredible. Before the game we said let’s see if we could recreate some of the magic that we did back in the day, and I think we did that today.”
He added: “I had my little lad here too, and for him to see me play, and score four goals was great. He has given me a little bit of stick before the game telling me that I had to score some goals. It’s only the second time he has ever seen me play, which makes it even more special.”
The event, which was compered by Sky Sports commentator John Gwynne, also included an on stage dance competition which was won by Fahrenheit Dance Studio, whilst live music in the build up to JLS’ performance was performed by a host of local singers and bands including The Indieannas, Neomantix and Charlotte Meldrum.
Stoke City supporter Mitchell Grant thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle, saying: “It’s been an absolutely brilliant day, with a lot of great entertainment.
“The highlight of the day for me was seeing Mark Stein score four goals. The performance from JLS right at the end was spectacular too, and there is no doubt about it that they got the biggest cheer of the day.
“They really put on a great show, but so did all of the other singers, bands and dancers who were on stage too. I for one hope the Club put on another event like this next year!”