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
West Ham United F.C.
West Ham United Football Club is a professional football club based in Stratford, East London, England. They compete in the Premier League, the top tier of English football, in 2016 the club re-located to the London Stadium. The club was founded in 1895 as Thames Ironworks and reformed in 1900 as West Ham United and they moved to the Boleyn Ground in 1904, which remained their home ground for more than a century. The team initially competed in the Southern League and Western League before joining the Football League in 1919 and they were promoted to the top flight in 1923, when they also losing finalists in the first FA Cup Final held at Wembley. In 1940, the won the inaugural Football League War Cup. West Ham have been winners of the FA Cup three times, in 1964,1975, and 1980, and have also been runners-up twice, in 1923, and 2006. The club have reached two major European finals, winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1965 and finishing runners up in the competition in 1976. West Ham also won the Intertoto Cup in 1999 and they are one of eight clubs never to have fallen below the second tier of English football, spending 59 of 91 league seasons in the top flight, up to and including the 2016–17 season. The clubs highest league position to date came in 1985–86 when they achieved third place in the then First Division, three West Ham players were members of the 1966 World Cup final-winning England team, captain Bobby Moore and goalscorers Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. The club, Thames Ironworks were the first ever winners of the West Ham Charity Cup in 1895 contested by clubs in the West Ham locality and they turned professional in 1898 upon entering the Southern League Second Division, and were promoted to the First Division at the first attempt. The following year they came second from bottom, but had established themselves as a fully fledged competitive team and they comfortably fended off the challenge of local rivals Fulham in a relegation play-off, 5–1 in late April 1900 and retained their First Division status. In 1899, they acquired their now-traditional home kit combination of claret shirts and sky blue sleeves in a wager involving Aston Villa players, because of the original works team roots and links, they are still known as the Irons or the Hammers amongst fans and the media. West Ham Utd joined the Western League for the 1901 season while continuing to play in the Southern Division 1. In 1907, West Ham were crowned the Western League Division 1B Champions, the reborn club continued to play their games at the Memorial Grounds in Plaistow but moved to a pitch in the Upton Park area in the guise of the Boleyn Ground stadium in 1904. The Cup Final match itself ended 2–0 to Bolton, the team enjoyed mixed success in Division 1 but retained their status for ten years and reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1933. In 1932, the club was relegated to Division Two and long term custodian Syd King was sacked after serving the club in the role of manager for 32 years, following relegation, King had mental health problems. He appeared drunk at a meeting and soon after committed suicide. The club spent most of the next 30 years in division, first under Paynter
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
English Football League
The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football and it was the top-level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League. The league has 72 clubs evenly divided into three divisions, which are known as the Championship, League One and League Two, with 24 clubs in each division, the Football League has been associated with a title sponsor between 1983 and 2016. As this sponsor changed over the years the league too has been known by various names, the English Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition, and this body also organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The operations centre of the Football League is in Preston, while its commercial office is in London, the commercial office was formerly based in Lytham St Annes, after its original spell in Preston. The Football League consists of 70 professional association football clubs in England and 2 in Wales and it runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It also organises two knockout cup competitions, the Football League Cup and Football League Trophy, the Football League was founded in 1888 by then Aston Villa director William McGregor, originally with 12 member clubs. Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant that by 1950 the League had 92 clubs, the Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total,136 teams have played in the Football League up to 2013, the Football Leagues 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions, the Football League Championship, Football League One, and Football League Two. Each division has 24 clubs, and in any season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium. This makes for a total of 46 games played each season, clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the higher division. At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from the Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places, reserve teams of Football League clubs usually play in the Central League or the Football Combination. Since the 2004–05 season, penalties have existed for clubs entering financial administration during the season and it is also required that a club exiting administration agree a Creditors Voluntary Agreement, and pay in full any other footballing creditors. Failure to do either of these result in a second. The other main situation in which is a club may lose points is by fielding an improperly registered or otherwise ineligible player. If a club is found to have done this, then any points earned from any match that player participated in will be deducted, the EFL organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The EFL Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all EFL and Premier League clubs, the EFL Trophy is for clubs belonging to EFL League One and EFL League Two
The Potteries derby is the football local derby in Stoke-on-Trent between Port Vale and Stoke City. The fans of each club both consider the other to be their main rivals, this has led to an atmosphere at these matches, especially with the rise of football hooliganism. The two teams have met a total of 185 times, consisting of,44 The Football League,6 FA Cup,62 friendlies, Stoke-on-Trent is the least populous city to have two Football League clubs. Leeds, Leicester, Coventry, Hull, Bradford, and Cardiff are all cities that contain just one league club. Both clubs come from Stoke-on-Trent and are the clubs from the city to have played in the football league. Port Vale are Burslem based and Stoke City traditionally are based in Stoke-upon-Trent, the city of Stoke-on-Trent was incorporated in 1910, therefore before this time the two clubs were based in separate towns and were local rivals rather than rivals within the same city. Despite this however, the Valiants did use The Old Recreation Ground as their home stadium, both clubs had strong links to the local pottery industry, Port Vales unique name being based on the Trent and Mersey Canal and with Citys nickname being The Potters. Port Vale tends to get support from the North of the city, notably Tunstall, Stoke therefore tend to enjoy greater support in the South of the city. The two clubs have long histories, Stoke City were founded in 1863 or 1868 and Port Vale were probably formed in 1879. In the early 20th century, both spent time out of the Football League structure, from 1907 and 1908 until 1919 - both had resigned due to financial troubles. Stoke were founder members of the league in 1888 and Port Vale were founder members of both the Second Division in 1892 and the Fourth Division in 1958. City have tended to be the successful club over the years. Although Vale did reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1954, Stoke have also tended to play in higher tiers of the football league throughout the clubs history, although since 1919 the two clubs have found themselves in the same league for 22 seasons. Vale have had five seasons playing at a higher level than City. Whilst competing in the division, Vale have finished above Stoke on seven occasions. Stoke therefore have finished above Vale 87 times, the first derby game was played at Westport Meadows on 2 December 1882, in the Second Round of the Staffordshire Senior Cup. Vale were complete unknowns, and so pulled off a surprise by managing a 1–1 with their more established rivals-to-be, no details of the match were recorded, though The Staffordshire Sentinel did mention the match along with the comment that it was a spirited game. Stoke won the replay 5–1 at the Victoria Ground seven days later and it took Vale seventeen attempts to register their first victory over Stoke, which they finally did in a friendly on 29 March 1890, winning 2–1
Republic of Ireland
Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a sovereign state in north-western Europe occupying about five-sixths of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the part of the island. The state shares its land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint Georges Channel to the south-east, and it is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President, the state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was officially declared a republic in 1949, following the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955. It joined the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union, after joining the EEC, Ireland enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in rapid economic growth. The country achieved considerable prosperity between the years of 1995 and 2007, which known as the Celtic Tiger period. This was halted by a financial crisis that began in 2008. However, as the Irish economy was the fastest growing in the EU in 2015, Ireland is again quickly ascending league tables comparing wealth and prosperity internationally. For example, in 2015, Ireland was ranked as the joint sixth most developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index and it also performs well in several national performance metrics, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties. Ireland is a member of the European Union and is a member of the Council of Europe. The 1922 state, comprising 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland, was styled, the Constitution of Ireland, adopted in 1937, provides that the name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland. Section 2 of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 states, It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland. The 1948 Act does not name the state as Republic of Ireland, because to have done so would have put it in conflict with the Constitution. The government of the United Kingdom used the name Eire, and, from 1949, Republic of Ireland, for the state, as well as Ireland, Éire or the Republic of Ireland, the state is also referred to as the Republic, Southern Ireland or the South. In an Irish republican context it is referred to as the Free State or the 26 Counties. From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801, until 6 December 1922, during the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the islands population of over 8 million fell by 30%
Bristol Rovers F.C.
Bristol Rovers Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Bristol, England. They compete in League One, the tier of English football. The team play their matches at Memorial Stadium, in Horfield, a suburb of Bristol. The club was founded in 1883 as Black Arabs F. C. and were known as Eastville Rovers. The clubs official nickname is The Pirates, reflecting the history of Bristol. According to a survey conducted in December 2003, Cardiff City and Swindon Town are considered their second, Rovers were admitted to the Football League in 1920 and have played there ever since, apart from spending the 2014–15 season in the Conference Premier. Their highest finishing positions were in 1956 and 1959, on both occasions ending the season in 6th place in Division Two, then the tier of English football. Rovers were Football League Trophy finalists in 1990 and 2007, the club was formed following a meeting at the Eastville Restaurant in Bristol in September 1883. It was initially called Black Arabs F. C. after the Arabs rugby team and this name only lasted for the 1883–84 season, and in a bid to draw more fans from the local area the club was renamed Eastville Rovers in 1884. The club played friendly games until the 1887–88 season, when it took part in the Gloucestershire Cup for the first time. In 1892 the club became a member of the Bristol and District League. In 1897 Eastville Rovers joined the Birmingham and District League, at the beginning of the 1897–98 season, the club turned professional and changed its name to Bristol Eastville Rovers, and on 17 February 1899 the name was officially changed to Bristol Rovers. In 1899 Bristol Rovers joined the newly formed Southern League, where remained until 1920. For the 1920–21 season, the Southern League teams were moved into the new Division Three of the Football League and they remained in this division for over 30 years, before winning the league, and promotion in the 1952–53 season. The club has been relegated six times—in 1961–62, 1980–81, 1992–93, 2000–01, 2010–11 and most recently at the end of the 2013–14 season. The highest position in the football ladder achieved by Rovers at the end of season is sixth place in the tier, which they did twice, once in 1955–56. The closest they came to the top flight was in 1955–56, the lowest league position achieved by the club is twenty-third out of twenty-four teams in the fourth tier, which has occurred twice. This position was matched at the end of the 2013–14 season and they returned to the league at the end of their first Conference season, with a penalty shootout victory over Grimsby Town in the play-off final
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
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
The club was established in 1875, becoming a founding member of The Football League in 1888. It is one of three clubs to have been both a founder member of the Football League and the Premier League. In 1890, Rovers moved to Ewood Park, Blackburn Rovers have been English champions three times, and have won six FA Cups and one Football League Cup. Blackburn are the only extant club to have won three consecutive FA Cups, the club has spent the majority of its existence in the top flight of English football. In 1992, Rovers gained promotion to the new Premier League a year after being taken over by local entrepreneur Jack Walker, in 1995, Rovers became Premier League champions. In the 1998–99 season, the club was relegated and it was promoted back to the Premier League two years later, in the 2000–01 season. It has qualified for the UEFA Cup four times, once as League Cup winners, twice as the Premier Leagues sixth-placed team, the 2011–12 season marked the clubs 72nd, non-consecutive, year in the top flight. Rovers are currently one of six clubs to have won the Premier League, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City. The clubs motto is Arte et Labore, By Skill and Hard Work in Latin, the club was founded following a meeting, at the Leger Hotel, Blackburn, on 5 November 1875. The meeting was organised by two men, namely John Lewis and Arthur Constantine. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of forming a club to play under Association rules. The first match played by Blackburn Rovers took place in Church, on 28 September 1878, Blackburn Rovers became one of 23 clubs to form the Lancashire Football Association. On 1 November 1879 the club played in the F. A, Cup for the first time, beating the Tyne Association Football Club 5–1. Rovers were eventually put out of the competition in the round after suffering a heavy 6–0 defeat by Nottingham Forest. On 25 March 1882 the club won through to the final of the F. A, Blackburn Rovers was the first provincial team to reach the final, but the result was a 1–0 defeat by the Old Etonians. Cup on 29 March 1884 with a 2–1 victory over the Scottish team Queens Park, the same teams played the F. A. Cup final again the season, with Blackburn Rovers again emerging victorious. Rovers repeated this success yet again the season, winning the final replay 2–0 against West Bromwich Albion
Ipswich Town F.C.
Ipswich Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. They play in the Championship, the tier of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1878 but did not turn professional until 1936 and they play their home games at Portman Road in Ipswich. The clubs traditional colours are blue shirts and white shorts. Ipswich have won the English league title once, in their first season in the top flight in 1961–62 and they won the FA Cup in 1977–78, and the UEFA Cup in 1980–81. They have competed in the top two tiers of English football uninterrupted since 1957–58. They have competed in all three European club competitions, and have never lost at home in European competition, defeating Real Madrid, AC Milan, Internazionale, Lazio and Barcelona F. C. among others. The club was founded as a side in 1878 and were known as Ipswich A. F. C. until 1888 when they merged with Ipswich Rugby Club to form Ipswich Town Football Club. The team won a number of cup competitions, including the Suffolk Challenge Cup. The club won the league a further three times, in 1929–30, 1932–33 and 1933–34, before becoming members of the Eastern Counties Football League at the end of the 1934–35 season. A year later, the club turned professional and joined the Southern League, Ipswich were elected to The Football League on 30 May 1938, and played in Division Three until the end of the 1953–54 season, when they won the title and promotion to Division Two. The club won the Division Three title again in 1956–57, and this time, Ipswich established themselves in Division Two, and as the division champions, won promotion to the top level of English football, Division One, in 1960–61. In the top flight for the first time, Ipswich became Champions of the Football League at the first attempt in 1961–62, as English league champions, they qualified for the 1962–63 European Cup, defeating Maltese side Floriana 14–1 on aggregate before losing to Milan. Ramsey quit the club in April 1963 to take charge of the England national team, after the team won the 1966 World Cup, Ramsey was replaced by Jackie Milburn, under whose leadership fortunes on the pitch plummeted. Milburn quit after just one season and was replaced by Bill McGarry in 1964. McGarry left to manage Wolves and was replaced by Bobby Robson in January 1969, Robson led Ipswich to two major trophies and several seasons in top flight European football. The successful period began in 1973 when the won the Texaco Cup and finished fourth in the league. Ipswich regularly featured in the top five of the league and in the UEFA Cup, at their peak in the 1979–80 season, they beat Manchester United 6–0 in a league game at Portman Road, a game where United goalkeeper Gary Bailey also saved three penalties