Stoke City F.C.
Stoke City Football Club is a professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863 the club changed its name to Stoke in 1878 and they are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and are one of the founding members of the Football League. Their first, and to date only major trophy, the League Cup was won in 1972, the clubs highest league finish in the top division is 4th, which was achieved in the 1935–36 and 1946–47 seasons. Stoke played in the FA Cup Final in 2011, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and have reached three FA Cup semi-finals, in 1899 then consecutively in 1971 and 1972. Stoke have competed in European football on three occasions, firstly in 1972–73 then in 1974–75 and most recently in 2011–12, the club has won the Football League Trophy twice, in 1992 and in 2000. Stokes home ground is the bet365 Stadium, a 28,116 all-seater stadium, before the stadium was opened in 1997, the club was based at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878. The clubs nickname is The Potters, named after the industry in Stoke-on-Trent and their traditional home kit is a red and white vertically striped shirt, white shorts. Stokes traditional rivals are Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst their local rivals are Port Vale with whom they contest the Potteries derby, the clubs first documented match was in October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground. Henry Almond, the founder, was also captain. During this period they played at the Victoria Cricket Ground, however, in 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke Football Club. They moved from their previous ground, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground and it was around this time that the club adopted their traditional red-and-white striped kit. In August 1885, the club turned professional, Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League when it was introduced in 1888. The club struggled in their first two seasons, 1888–89 and 1889–90, finishing bottom on both occasions, in 1890 Stoke failed to be re-elected and joined the Football Alliance, which they won and thus were re-elected to the Football League. Stoke spent the next 15 seasons in the First Division and reached the FA Cup Semi-Final in the 1898–99 season before being relegated in 1907, Stoke went bankrupt and entered non-league football until 1914, when the First World War meant the Football League was suspended for four years. During the wartime period, Stoke entered the Lancashire Primary and Secondary leagues, when football recommenced in August 1919, Stoke re-joined the league. The club became owners of the Victoria Ground in 1919 and this was followed by the construction of the Butler Street stand, which increased the overall capacity of the ground to 50,000. In 1925, Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status and this led the club to change its name to Stoke City F. C, the 1930s saw the debut of clubs most celebrated player, Stanley Matthews. Matthews, who grew up in Hanley, was an apprentice at the club and made his first appearance in March 1932, against Bury, by end of the decade, Matthews had established himself as an England international and as one of the best footballers of his generation
The Victoria Ground was the home ground of Stoke City from 1878 until 1997, when the club relocated to the Britannia Stadium after 119 years. At the time of its demolition it was the oldest operational football league ground in the Football League. The Victoria Ground had been Stoke Citys home since March 1878, the ground took its name from the nearby Victoria Hotel and was originally an oval shape, built to accommodate a running track and used by the local athletic club. There was a grass bank at each end, and a small. Opposite this stand was another bank which could hold 4,000, the ground remained this way for 30 years during which time Stoke had become members of the Football League. Stoke suffered financial difficulties and dropped out of the league in 1908, Stoke got back into the league in 1919 and the ground had now been improved considerably. There were two good sized grandstands and a wooden one which was situated opposite the main stand. The players changing rooms were set in the corner of the ground which included a stove so players could keep warm. Above the changing hut was the box, a rather primitive building. During the early 1920s a new, mainly wooden main stand was erected alongside the hut, by 1930 Stoke had added City to their name and the Boothen End was terraced and later covered, and consequently the ground lost its oval shape. 1935, when the likes of Stanley Matthews was beginning to draw in the crowds, in front of the seats was a small paddock, room for another 2,000 and it took the ground capacity to around the 45,000 mark. A record crowd of 51,380 packed into the Victoria Ground on 29 March 1937 to watch a First Division match against Arsenal, during World War II the Butler Street Stand was used as an army storage camp. Floodlights were installed at the ground in 1956 and local rivals Port Vale marked the official switching on ceremony by playing Stoke in a friendly on 10 October 1956, in 1960 another new main stand was built and the dressing rooms were revamped. In the summer of 1963 concrete was laid on the paddock terracing, more improvements continued in the 1960s and the ground remained in a good condition until January 1976. The strong winds blew a section of the roof off the Butler Street Stand leaving only the west corner intact, top priority was to put the roof back in order that the replay against Tottenham could take place on 7 January. Stoke had to play one home match against Middlesbrough at Vale Park on 17 January. The final improvements to the ground were made during the 1980s with the Stanley Matthews suite being opened as well as a new club shop, with many clubs converting to all-seater stadium due to the Taylor Report the club drew up plans to meet the requirements at the Victoria Ground. However the Club instead decided to build a new ground and so in 1997 Stoke left the Victoria Ground after 119 years for the new modern 28,000 seater Britannia Stadium, archived from the original on 28 January 2010
West Midlands (Regional) League
It has three divisions, the highest of which is the Premier Division, which sits at step 6 of the National League System, or the tenth level of the overall English football league system. The league currently acts as a feeder to the Midland Football League Premier Division, approximately fifty teams compete in the league each season, with new members regularly joining from a number of lower, more local leagues. In the late 1880s, Birmingham and the region boasted many of the countrys strongest football teams. On 31 May 1889 a meeting place at Birminghams Grand Hotel with the view to forming a Birmingham & District League. A total of 17 clubs were invited but only 13 attended, of which 12 were selected to form the new league, the one club which sent a representative to the meeting but was not invited to take part in the league, for unknown reasons, was Worcester Rovers. Although Kidderminster Olympic topped the table, no championship was awarded as a number of fixtures had not been completed. A number of clubs which had enjoyed success in the Birmingham Combination also joined the league, the Combinations committee then attempted to re-open the merger talks but, having just bolstered its ranks with six new members, the League was not interested. A year later, all of the Combinations 14 remaining clubs, with the exception of West Bromwich Albions A team, left to join the League, which effectively absorbed its former rival. The 40 member clubs were split into Northern and Southern divisions, at the end of the 1957–58 season, Burton Albion and Nuneaton Borough left to join an expanding Southern League, followed a year later by Hinckley Athletic. In an attempt to consolidate the league decided to all remaining reserve teams. Four years later it changed its name to the West Midlands League to more accurately reflect its catchment area, for the 1965–66 season the league was able to revert to a two-division structure when it rebranded its existing single division the Premier Division and added a new Division One. By 1976, a flow of teams joining from smaller regional leagues led to Division One being split into Divisions One and One, revised a year later to Divisions One. The Alliance Premier League was formed in 1979, pushing the Regional League further down the English football league system, reflecting the demographics of the West Midlands area, a number of British Asian teams joined the league, including Sikh Hunters, Englands first ever all-Sikh team. The league currently has no title sponsor, previously it has been sponsored by Sport Italia, the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star newspaper, and Black Country brewery Bankss. In the 2014–15 season,55 teams are competing in the league, some of the teams in the lower two divisions are reserve teams of clubs playing at a higher level. Each division is contested on a double round-robin basis, with each playing each of the other teams in the division once at home. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, goal difference is used to separate teams on the same points, having replaced goal average at the start of the 1978–79 season. Since the 1994–95 season the Regional League, along with the Midland Football Combination, has served as one of the two official feeders to the Midland Football Alliance
Crewe Alexandra F.C.
Crewe Alexandra Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Crewe, Cheshire, England. Nicknamed The Railwaymen because of the links with the rail industry. The team compete in League Two, the tier of the English football league system. The club was formed in 1877 and named after Princess Alexandra and it was a founding member of the Football League Second Division in 1892, but only lasted four years in the League. Since re-entering the competition in 1921, they have remained in the lower divisions. Crewes only major honour is the Football League Trophy which they won in 2013 and they have also won several minor trophies, including the Cheshire Premier Cup and the Cheshire Senior Cup. Gradi is known for focusing on development and promoting attractive. Notable players brought through the Crewe youth system include former internationals Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, other notable players to have made their name at Crewe in that time include Geoff Thomas, David Platt and Robbie Savage. Crewe Alexandra were formed in 1877 as Crewe Football Club, separate from the successful Crewe Cricket Club and they were based at the Alexandra Recreation Ground and played their first match against North Staffs that same year, a match that ended 1–1. In 1883, Crewe Alexandras first match in the FA Cup was against Scottish club Queens Park of Glasgow, in 1888, the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals, defeating Derby County and Middlesbrough en route, before going out to Preston North End. Crewe were founding members of the Football League Second Division in 1892, having previously been members of the Football Alliance, in 1906 the current Gresty Road ground was rebuilt to the west of the original site. Crewe rejoined the Football League in 1921, during which season a crowd of 15,102 packed into Gresty Road to watch Crewe entertain local rivals Stoke City. Crewe earned their first honours by winning the Welsh Cup in 1936 and 1937, in 1936, Bert Swindells scored his 100th League goal for Crewe Alexandra. He went on to score 126 goals for the club, a record still stands today. 1955 saw Crewe embark on a sequence where they did not win away from home for 56 matches, the dismal run ended with a 1–0 win at Southport. One of Crewes most famous took place against Spurs in the FA Cup in 1960. A new record attendance of 20,000 saw lowly Crewe hold Spurs to a 2–2 draw on 30 January, on 3 February, Tottenham convincingly won the replay 13–2, which remains a record defeat for the club. Llewellyn and Nev Coleman scored for Crewe,1961 saw Crewes most notable win in their history, Jimmy McGuigans side defeated Chelsea 2–1 in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge
Kit (association football)
In association football, kit is the standard equipment and attire worn by players. The sports Laws of the Game specify the minimum kit which a player must use, footballers generally wear identifying numbers on the backs of their shirts. Professional clubs also usually display players surnames or nicknames on their shirts, Football kit has evolved significantly since the early days of the sport when players typically wore thick cotton shirts, knickerbockers and heavy rigid leather boots. The Laws of the Game set out the equipment which must be worn by all players in Law 4. Five separate items are specified, shirt, shorts, socks, footwear, goalkeepers are allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms instead of shorts. While most players wear studded football boots, the Laws do not specify that these are required, shirts must have sleeves, and goalkeepers must wear shirts which are easily distinguishable from all other players and the match officials. Thermal undershorts may be worn, but must be the colour as the shorts themselves. Shin pads must be covered entirely by the stockings, be made of rubber, plastic or a similar material, and provide a reasonable degree of protection. The only other restriction on equipment defined in the Laws of the Game is the requirement that a player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player. In the event of a match between teams who would wear identical or similar colours the away team must change to a different colour. The England national team plays in red shirts even when it is not required. Many professional clubs also have a kit, ostensibly to be used if both their first-choice and away colours are deemed too similar to those of an opponent. Most professional clubs have retained the basic colour scheme for several decades. Teams representing countries in international competition generally wear national colours in common with other sporting teams of the same nation, shirts are normally made of a polyester mesh, which does not trap the sweat and body heat in the same way as a shirt made of a natural fibre. Depending on local rules, there may be restrictions on how large these logos may be or on what logos may be displayed, competitions such as the Premier League may also require players to wear patches on their sleeves depicting the logo of the competition. The captain of team is usually required to wear an elasticated armband around the left sleeve to identify him as the captain to the referee. Most current players wear specialist football boots, which can be either of leather or a synthetic material. Modern boots are cut slightly below the ankles, as opposed to the high-ankled boots used in former times, studs may be either moulded directly to the sole or be detachable, normally by means of a screw thread