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
Southern Football League
Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system. The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, the Premier Division is at step 3 of the National League System, and is a feeder division, mainly to the National League South but also to the National League North. Feeding the Premier Division are two divisions, Division One South & West and Division One Central, which are at step 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues, professional football developed more slowly in Southern England than in Northern England. Additionally, a league, the Southern Alliance was founded in 1892, with seven clubs from the region. Nonetheless, another attempt was made to form the Southern League, a competition for both professional and amateur clubs was founded in 1894 under the initiative of Millwall Athletic. Initially only one division was envisaged, but such was the enthusiasm, the sixteen founder members were, 2nd Scots Guards withdrew before the first season started and were replaced by Southampton St Marys. Woolwich Arsenal attempted to add their reserve side to the second division, the Southern League soon became the dominant competition below The Football League in Southern and Central England. By the turn of the century a few of the Southern League sides began to rival the Football League in the FA Cup, Two Southern League clubs, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the FA Cup around the turn of the century. Tottenham Hotspur are the club from below the 2nd level of English football to have won the FA Cup. The champions of the two leagues during this period met in the annual Charity Shield, in 1907, it accepted Bradford Park Avenue, a northern club, as a member, reflecting its senior position at the time. In 1920, virtually the top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that leagues new Third Division. A year later the Third Division was expanded and regionalised, the Third Division clubs from the previous season became the Third Division South, with the addition of the Third Division North. Of the original members, six – Gillingham, Luton Town, Millwall, Reading. For the next six decades, the Football League and Southern League would exchange a number of clubs as a result of the older leagues re-election process. From 1920 onward, the Southern Leagues status as a league was firmly established. In turn, the APL would eventually succeed in becoming a feeder to the Football League, the league lost more of its top clubs in 2004 when the Conference added two regional divisions below the existing National League, the Conference South and Conference North. The first sponsor of the Southern League was Beazer Homes who sponsored the league from 1987–96, the sponsors after Beazer Homes to the present day are, Dr Martens, British Gas, Zamaretto, Evo-Stik, Calor Gas, and Evo-Stik
Brentford Football Club is a professional association football club based in Brentford, Greater London, England. The team play in the Championship, the tier of English football. It was founded on 10 October 1889 and plays its games at Griffin Park, its home stadium since 1904. Brentfords most successful spell came during the 1930s, when it achieved consecutive top six finishes in the First Division, Brentford have been FA Cup quarter-finalists on four occasions, and have been runners-up of the Football League Trophy on three occasions. As a result of a vote, by eight votes to five, taken six days later, the very first fixture, between Brentford FC and Kew FC, was on 23 November 1889. Due to ownership of the land changing hands, Brentford FC was on the lookout for a new ground after only 30 months, in October 1892, Benns Field – land behind The Plough PH Little Ealing Lane – in Little Ealing, was the clubs new home. The football club decided to move nearer to Brentford and in December 1894 it moved to Shotters Field – what is now Gunnersbury School, The Ride – and stayed there until April 1898. As the club grew, therefore entertaining larger crowds, a move to a ground with the chance of improving better spectator facilities, with under cover enclosures and changing rooms, was looked for. Boston Park Cricket Ground, in York Road, Brentford – what is now land along the east side of Ealing Road, finally, in January 1904, the club agreed a 21-year lease on an orchard, once owned by Chiswick brewers Fuller, Smith and Turner. The clearance of the orchard, over 200 trees, and the levelling of the land took several months, in August 1904 trial matches were played on the pitch. Then the first competitive match was played, a team game in the Western League v Plymouth Argyle. On 7 September 1904, Brentford and West Ham United played out a 0–0 draw, in the Southern League First Division, in 1920 it was a founder member of the Football League Third Division. In 1921–22, the Football League Third Division was regionalised and Brentford FC was placed in the Southern section, during the late 1920s and 1930s, the club began to make real progress. In the 1929–30 season, the side won all 21 of its matches in the Third Division South. It is the last of six teams in English football to amass a perfect record. After several more near-misses, promotion to the Second Division was finally achieved in 1932–33, Two years later, Brentford reached the First Division and finished 5th in its debut season – which is still the clubs highest ever league position – to complete a remarkable rise for the club. Under manager Harry Curtis and captain Arthur Bateman, Brentford achieved more impressive placings in the league for the rest of the decade before the Second World War interrupted. During the war, Brentford competed in the London War Cup, the club was relegated in the first season after the war, and a downward spiral set in, which culminated in relegation to the Third Division in 1953–54 and the Fourth Division in 1961–62
Swansea City A.F.C.
Swansea City Association Football Club is a Welsh professional football club based in Swansea, Wales, that plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. Swansea City represent England when playing in European competitions, although they have represented Wales in the past, the club was founded in 1912 as Swansea Town and joined the Football League in 1921. The club changed their name in 1969, when adopted the name Swansea City to reflect Swanseas new status as a city. Swansea have played their matches at the Liberty Stadium since 2005. In 1981, the club was promoted to the original Football League First Division and it was during the following season they came close to winning the league title, but a decline then set near the seasons end before finishing sixth, although a club record. The clubs subsequent climb from the division of English football to the top division is chronicled in the 2014 film. In 2011, Swansea were promoted to the Premier League, following the lead of many other South Wales sides, joined the second division of the Southern League for the following season. J. W. Thorpe was the clubs first chairman, a site owned by Swansea Gaslight Co. called Vetch Field due to the vegetables that grew there, was rented to be the clubs ground. The clubs first professional match was a 1–1 draw at the Vetch Field against Cardiff City on 7 September 1912. During that first season the Welsh Cup was won for the first time, before the game Bradshaw had scored with thirty-six consecutive spot kicks. Remarkably, the Swans played most of the half with ten men. The Swans drew at another First Division side, Newcastle United, in the next round, following the First World War the Southern League dropped its second division, and with many clubs dropping out due to financial difficulties, the Swans were placed in the first division. After just four seasons in the Southern League, Swansea Town became founder members of the new Third Division of The Football League in 1920, the side had remained unbeaten at home in the league all season – something the next promotion team would emulate over twenty years later. Sadly for the Swans, an experienced Bolton side won the game 3–0, Swans record their highest average attendance during the season of 16,118 for pre-war league games. During the 1926–27 season they beat Real Madrid 3–0 on tour, during the 1931–32 season they finished 1st and went out in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. However they won the Welsh Cup after beating Wrexham 2–0 away after a replay and it was not until the 1933–34 season that Wilfred Milne scored his first goal for Swansea at Lincoln City after 501 appearances without a goal. After just one back from wartime football, the Swans finished 21st in the Second Division. The following season was one of consolidation, however in 1948–1949 the Swans stormed their way to winning the division for the second time
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