Stoked Out!! (FA Cup)

In honor of Stoke City’s surprisingly thorough 5-0 annihilation of the Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup semifinals yesterday, here are some interesting facts about the club:

  • Their nickname, the Potters, “is a reference to the long-important pottery industry in the city and the region surrounding Stoke-on-Trent is sometimes referred to as The Potteries,” according to Albion Road.com
  • Stoke City are the oldest club currently in the Premier League and are considered the second oldest club in the world, after Notts County.
  • Stoke City’s history dates back t0 1863, according to their official club history, which states:  “In 1863 the story goes that former pupils of the Charterhouse School formed a Football Club while apprentices at the North Staffordshire Railway works in Stoke.”
  • There is some disputing this date as the first recorded evidence suggests 1868 as the official start of the club, then called the Stoke Ramblers:  “Five years later a report in The Field magazine of September 1868 made things much clearer. It stated a new Association Football club had been formed in Stoke-on-Trent …and its founder member was ex-Charterhouse School pupil Henry Almond. So it’s possible that football had been played in the area during the previous five years, although in terms of official records the first game played by Almond’s team, known as Stoke Ramblers and consisting largely of railway employees, was in October 1868. The historic match, against an EW May XV, ended in a 1-1 draw and was played at the Victoria Cricket Club ground, near to Lonsdale Street and Church Street.”
  • Stoke City were one of the original 12 clubs who founded the Football League on April 17th, 1875.
  • The Potters went bankrupt in 1908, nine years after their first appearance in the FA Cup semifinals.
  • In 1967, Stoke City were “imported” to America where they played a season as the Cleveland Stokers in the fledgling United Soccer Association!!
  • Stoke’s 5-0 victory over Bolton was the highest margin of victory in the FA Cup semifinals since 1939.

image from stokecityfc.com

There is an inescapable catchall cliche in American sports about a team peaking at the right time, and I’d say that if ever a team truly fit that hackneyed description it is this Stoke City side.  They’ve been playing an attractively cohesive brand of intense, physical attacking soccer for at least the last month (excellent performances against Sunderland and Chelsea spring immediately to mind).  As I’d written about previously, the Potters have carried a stigma of being dirty and dull.   But their recent form has given careful observers reason to start questioning that dusty, dated perception as their supporters reportedly starting chanting “just like Brazil” after the ferocious 5-goal fusillade at Wembley.   ESPN’s Tom Adams addresses this perception gap in his recap of the match:

“Perhaps the emphatic nature of this victory will even go some way to addressing the widely-held image of the Britannia bruisers ahead of a final date with Manchester City on May 14. After all, this was a clash of two sides who have both dealt with problems of perception in recent seasons. But while Owen Coyle has embraced the challenge of transforming the image of a club that, under the revered Sam Allardyce and then the reviled Gary Megson, came to develop a reputation for uncompromising football, Tony Pulis is still grappling with the task of doing likewise with Stoke. As he said earlier this season: ‘It’s very difficult shaking perception off our shoulders'”

The FA Cup Final against Manchester City should a fascinating match that could go a long way to shifting perceptions of Stoke to an image that more closely resembles the reality of this gritty, talented squad.

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About dennisseese

This blog is and will be written by 2 passionate, recently converted fans of the world's game, football, or soccer as it's known to Americans. We will be writing primarily about European club soccer and we hope for this site to be a living compendium of informed fandom as we seek to learn and appreciate more about the legacies, rivalries and cultural significance of the 'Beautiful Game."
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