West Bromwich Albion F.C.
The club was formed in 1878 and has played at its home ground, The Hawthorns, since 1900. Albion were one of the members of the Football League in 1888 and have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of English football. They have been champions of England once, in 1919–20 and have been runners-up twice but they have had success in the FA Cup. The first came in 1888, the year the league was founded, and they also won the Football League Cup at the first attempt in 1966. The clubs longest consecutive period in the top division spanned twenty-four years between 1949 and 1973, and from 1986 to 2002 they spent their longest ever spell out of the top division and they currently play in the Premier League. The team has played in blue and white stripes for most of the clubs history. The club was founded as West Bromwich Strollers in 1878 by workers from George Salters Spring Works in West Bromwich, the club joined the Birmingham & District Football Association in 1881 and became eligible for their first competition, the Birmingham Cup. They reached the quarter-finals, beating several longer-established clubs on the way, in 1883, Albion won their first trophy, the Staffordshire Cup. Albion joined the Football Association in the year, this enabled them to enter the FA Cup for the first time in the 1883–84 season. In 1885 the club turned professional, and in 1886 they reached the FA Cup final for the first time and they reached the final again in 1887, but lost 2–0 to Aston Villa. In 1888 the team won the trophy for the first time, as FA Cup winners, they qualified to play in a Football World Championship game against Scottish Cup winners Renton, which ended in a 4–1 defeat. Thus when the Football League started later that year, Albion became one of the founder members. Albions second FA Cup success came in 1892, beating Aston Villa 3–0 and they met Villa again in the 1895 final, but lost 1–0. The team suffered relegation to Division Two in 1900–01, their first season at The Hawthorns and they were promoted as champions the following season but relegated again in 1903–04. The club won the Division Two championship once more in 1910–11, and the season reached another FA Cup Final. Albion won the Football League title in 1919–20 for the time in their history following the end of World War I. The team finished as Division One runners-up in 1924–25, narrowly losing out to Huddersfield Town, in 1930–31, they won promotion as well as the FA Cup, beating Birmingham 2–1 in the final. The Double of winning the FA Cup and promotion has not been achieved before or since, Albion reached the final again in 1935, losing to Sheffield Wednesday, but were relegated three years later
Preston North End F.C.
Preston North End Football Club is a professional association football club located in the Deepdale area of Preston, Lancashire. They play in the Championship, the tier of the English football league system. Prestons unbeaten League and Cup season earned them the nickname The Invincibles, Prestons most recent major trophy success was their FA Cup victory over Huddersfield Town in 1938. Many notable players have played for the club, including Tom Finney, Bill Shankly, Tommy Docherty, Alan Kelly, Sr. and Graham Alexander. On 21 January 1875, the club leased a field opposite Moor Park on the site of the current Deepdale stadium, Preston North End were famously successful during the early years of professional football in England. In 1887, Preston beat Hyde 26–0 in the First Round of the FA Cup, Preston forward Jimmy Ross scored eight goals in the match, going on to score 19 goals in the competition that season, also still a record. The clubs last major win was their FA Cup triumph in 1938. Prestons most famous player, Sir Tom Finney, played for the club between 1946 and 1960, Finney is considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time, and was also a local lad, dubbed the Preston Plumber due to his professional training as a plumber. Finney remains the top goalscorer, with 187 goals from 433 appearances. Following Finneys retirement, Preston were relegated to the Second Division in 1961 and have not played in the top division since, the club did reach the FA Cup final in 1964, but lost to West Ham United. Preston were relegated to the Third Division in the 1969–70 season, Alan Ball, Sr. John McGrath oversaw Prestons promotion back to the Third Division a year later, where they remained when John Beck took over in October 1992. The 38-year-old Beck had only recently been sacked by Cambridge United, the club almost made it two promotions in a row to reach the Premier League, but lost to Bolton Wanderers in the 2001 play-off final. Simon Grayson was appointed by the club on 18 February 2013, of Simon Graysons next 10 games, Preston won 3, drew 4 and lost 3. In Simon Graysons first summer in charge, he permanently signed 4 players, Tom Clarke, a centreback, Chris Humphrey, a winger, Kevin Davies, a Centre forward and Alex Nicholson. He also signed Declan Rudd on a long loan from Norwich City. He allowed 3 players to leave during the summer, those being Luke Foster, Chris Robertson, the 2013–14 season started off well, unbeaten in their first 9 league games. They also beat local rivals Blackpool in the League Cup, before being beaten by Lancashire rivals Burnley in the second round. The 9 league game unbeaten run came to an end on 5 October, against Peterborough United, Preston then went on another 9 game unbeaten league run, winning 5 and drawing 4, including a win against Leyton Orient, only their second league defeat of the season
Wembley Stadium (1923)
The Original Wembley Stadium was a football stadium located in Wembley Park, London. It stood on the now occupied by its successor, the new Wembley Stadium. The great Brazilian footballer Pelé once said of the stadium, Wembley is the cathedral of football and it is the capital of football and it is the heart of football in recognition of its status as the worlds best-known football stadium. It also hosted music events, including the 1985 Live Aid charity concert. The twin towers were an icon for England and Wembley, debris from the Original Wembley Stadium was used to make the award-winning Northala Fields in Northolt, Ealing. The stadiums first turf was cut by King George V, much of Humphrey Reptons original Wembley Park landscape was transformed in 1922–23 during preparations for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924–25. First known as the British Empire Exhibition Stadium or simply Empire Stadium, the stadium cost £750,000, and was constructed on the site of an earlier folly called Watkins Tower. The architects were Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton and the Head Engineer Sir Owen Williams, the stadium had gone into liquidation, after it was pronounced financially unviable. Elvin offered to buy the stadium for £127,000, using a £12,000 downpayment and they then immediately bought it back from Elvin, leaving him with a healthy profit. Instead of cash he received shares, which gave him the largest stake in Wembley Stadium, the electric scoreboard and the all-encircling roof, made from aluminium and translucent glass, were added in 1963. The stadiums distinctive Twin Towers became its trademark and nickname, also well known were the 39 steps needed to be climbed to reach the Royal box and collect a trophy. Wembley was the first pitch to be referred to as Hallowed Turf, in 1934, the Empire Pool was built nearby. The Wembley Stadium Collection is held by the National Football Museum, the stadium closed in October 2000, and demolition commenced in December 2002, completing in 2003 for redevelopment. The top of one of the towers was erected as a memorial in the park on the north side of Overton Close in the Saint Raphaels Estate. Wembley is best known for hosting football matches, having hosted the FA Cup Final annually as well as numerous England International fixtures, the Empire Stadium was built in exactly 300 days at the cost of £750,000. Described as the worlds greatest sporting arena, it was ready only 4 days before the White Horse Final in 1923, the FA had not considered admission by ticket, grossly underestimating the number of fans who arrived at the 104 gates on match day. However, after the game, every event, apart from the 1982 replay, was ticketed, the first event held at the stadium was the FA Cup Final on 28 April 1923 between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. This is known as the White Horse Final, the crowds overflowed onto the pitch as there was no room on the terraces
London /ˈlʌndən/ is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south east of the island of Great Britain and it was founded by the Romans, who named it Londinium. Londons ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its 1. 12-square-mile medieval boundaries. London is a global city in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism. It is crowned as the worlds largest financial centre and has the fifth- or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the world, London is a world cultural capital. It is the worlds most-visited city as measured by international arrivals and has the worlds largest city airport system measured by passenger traffic, London is the worlds leading investment destination, hosting more international retailers and ultra high-net-worth individuals than any other city. Londons universities form the largest concentration of education institutes in Europe. In 2012, London became the first city to have hosted the modern Summer Olympic Games three times, London has a diverse range of people and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the region. Its estimated mid-2015 municipal population was 8,673,713, the largest of any city in the European Union, Londons urban area is the second most populous in the EU, after Paris, with 9,787,426 inhabitants at the 2011 census. The citys metropolitan area is the most populous in the EU with 13,879,757 inhabitants, the city-region therefore has a similar land area and population to that of the New York metropolitan area. London was the worlds most populous city from around 1831 to 1925, Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Pauls Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world, the etymology of London is uncertain. It is an ancient name, found in sources from the 2nd century and it is recorded c.121 as Londinium, which points to Romano-British origin, and hand-written Roman tablets recovered in the city originating from AD 65/70-80 include the word Londinio. The earliest attempted explanation, now disregarded, is attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae and this had it that the name originated from a supposed King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud. From 1898, it was accepted that the name was of Celtic origin and meant place belonging to a man called *Londinos. The ultimate difficulty lies in reconciling the Latin form Londinium with the modern Welsh Llundain, which should demand a form *lōndinion, from earlier *loundiniom. The possibility cannot be ruled out that the Welsh name was borrowed back in from English at a later date, and thus cannot be used as a basis from which to reconstruct the original name. Until 1889, the name London officially applied only to the City of London, two recent discoveries indicate probable very early settlements near the Thames in the London area
Leeds /liːdz/ is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in Yorkshires West Riding, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the name referred to an area of the Kingdom of Elmet. The name has applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a centre for the production. During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a mill town, wool was the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing. From being a market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century. The city has the third largest jobs total by local authority area with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is also ranked as a world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and has the fourth largest urban economy. After London, Leeds is the largest legal and financial centre in the UK, with over 30 national and international banks located in the city. Leeds is also the UKs third largest manufacturing centre with around 1,800 firms and 39,000 employees, the largest sub-sectors are engineering, printing and publishing, food and drink, chemicals and medical technology. Outside of London, Leeds has the third busiest railway station, Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. The name Leeds derives from the old Brythonic word Ladenses meaning people of the fast-flowing river and this name originally referred to the forested area covering most of the Brythonic kingdom of Elmet, which existed during the 5th century into the early 7th century. An inhabitant of Leeds is locally known as a Loiner, a word of uncertain origin, the term Leodensian is also used, from the citys Latin name. Leeds developed as a town in the Middle Ages as part of the local agricultural economy. Before the Industrial Revolution it became a centre for the manufacture of woollen cloth. Leeds handled one sixth of Englands export trade in 1770, growth, initially in textiles, was accelerated by the building of the Aire and Calder Navigation in 1699 and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies making it the worlds most popular sport, the game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play, unless they are goalkeepers. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, the team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football, the first written reference to the inflated ball used in the game was in the mid-14th century, Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe. The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word soccer was split off in 1863, according to Partha Mazumdar, the term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford -er abbreviation of the word association. Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called football in the United Kingdom and mainly soccer in Canada and the United States. People in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand use either or both terms, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use football for the formal name. According to FIFA, the Chinese competitive game cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence, cuju players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. It was remarkably similar to football, though similarities to rugby occurred. During the Han Dynasty, cuju games were standardised and rules were established, phaininda and episkyros were Greek ball games. An image of an episkyros player depicted in low relief on a vase at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens appears on the UEFA European Championship Cup, athenaeus, writing in 228 AD, referenced the Roman ball game harpastum. Phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence and they all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. As with pre-codified mob football, the antecedent of all football codes. Non-competitive games included kemari in Japan, chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia, Association football in itself does not have a classical history. Notwithstanding any similarities to other games played around the world FIFA have recognised that no historical connection exists with any game played in antiquity outside Europe. The modern rules of football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in the public schools of England
Football in England
Today Englands top domestic league, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world, with six of the ten richest football clubs in the world. The England national football team is one of only 8 teams to win the World Cup, a total of five English club teams have won the UEFA Champions League. Football was played in England as far back as medieval times, kicking ball games are described in England from 1280. An account of an exclusively kicking game from Nottinghamshire in the fifteenth century bears similarity to association football. By the 16th centuries references to organised teams and goals had appeared, there is evidence for refereed, team football games being played in English schools since at least 1581. The eighteenth-century Gymnastic Society of London is, arguably, the worlds first football club, the Cambridge rules, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. The Cambridge Rules were written at Trinity College, Cambridge, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, during the 1850s, many clubs unconnected to schools or universities were formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various forms of football. In 1862, John Charles Thring of Uppingham School also devised a set of rules. These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association in 1863, the Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s with the FA absorbing some of its rules until there was little difference between the games. A match between Sheffield and Hallam F. C. on 29 December 1862 was one of the first matches to be recorded in a newspaper, on 8 March 1873, the England national teams 4–2 win over Scotland at the Oval was the first ever victory in international football. The late nineteenth century was dominated by the split between the amateur and professional teams, which was roughly aligned along a North-South divide. Northern clubs were keen to adopt professionalism as workers could not afford to play on an amateur basis, preston North End were inaugural winners in 1888–89, and were also the first club to complete the double of both winning the league and the FA Cup. Aston Villa repeated the feat in 1896–97 and it remained at 40 until the league was suspended after the 1914–15 season with the outbreak of World War I. Other clubs to win titles in this period include Sheffield United, Manchester United. During the war, competitive football was suspended, however, an unofficial Wartime Football league was played from 1915–16 to 1918–19, although the FA Cup was suspended until after the war. The next season the league was expanded with the Third Division divided into North and South sections. In the 1923–24 season the Third Division North was expanded to 22 clubs, Bolton Wanderers defeated West Ham United to win this landmark game. Bolton Wanderers would win the FA Cup on three occasions during the 1920s, by the turn of the 1930s, the national side regularly played against other national teams from outside the British Isles
The FA Cup, known officially as The Football Association Challenge Cup, is an annual knockout association football competition in mens domestic English football. First played during the 1871–72 season, it is the oldest association football competition in the world and it is organised by and named after The Football Association. For sponsorship reasons, from 2015 through to 2018 it is known as The Emirates FA Cup. A concurrent womens tournament is held, the FA Womens Cup. A record 763 clubs competed in 2011–12, the tournament consists of 12 randomly drawn rounds followed by the semi-finals and the final. The last entrants are the Premier League and Championship clubs, into the draw for the Third Round Proper, in the modern era, only one non-league team has ever reached the quarter finals, and teams below Level 2 have never reached the final. As a result, as well as who wins, significant focus is given to those minnows who progress furthest, especially if they achieve an unlikely giant-killing victory. Winners receive the FA Cup trophy, of which there have two designs and five actual cups, the latest is a 2014 replica of the second design. Winners also qualify for European football and a place in the FA Community Shield match, in 1863, the newly founded Football Association published the Laws of the Game of Association Football, unifying the various different rules in use before then. On 20 July 1871, in the offices of The Sportsman newspaper, the inaugural FA Cup tournament kicked off in November 1871. After thirteen games in all, Wanderers were crowned the winners in the final, Wanderers retained the trophy the following year. The modern cup was beginning to be established by the 1888–89 season, following the 1914–15 edition, the competition was suspended due to the First World War, and did not resume until 1919–20. The 1922–23 competition saw the first final to be played in the newly opened Wembley Stadium, due to the outbreak of World War II, the competition was not played between the 1938–39 and 1945–46 editions. Having previously featured replays, the modern day practice of ensuring the semi-final and final matches finish on the day, was introduced from 2000 onwards. Redevelopment of Wembley saw the final played outside of England for the first time, the final returned to Wembley in 2007, followed by the semi-finals from 2008. The competition is open to any club down to Level 10 of the English football league system which meets the eligibility criteria, all clubs in the top four levels are automatically eligible. Clubs in the six levels are also eligible provided they have played in either the FA Cup. Newly formed clubs, such as F. C. United of Manchester in 2005–06 and also 2006–07, all clubs entering the competition must also have a suitable stadium
Chelsea Football Club is an English professional football club based in Fulham, London, that competes in the Premier League. Founded in 1905, the home ground since then has been Stamford Bridge. Chelsea had their first major success in 1955, when they won the league championship and they then won various cup competitions between 1965 and 1996. The clubs greatest period of success has come during the last two decades, winning 21 trophies since 1997. Chelsea are the only London club to win the UEFA Champions League, and one of four clubs, Chelseas regular kit colours are royal blue shirts and shorts with white socks. The clubs crest has changed several times in attempts to re-brand the club. The current crest, featuring a lion rampant regardant holding a staff, is a modification of the one introduced in the early 1950s. The club have the sixth-highest average all-time attendance in English football and their average home gate for the 2015–16 season was 41,500, the seventh highest in the Premier League. Since 2003, Chelsea have been owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, in 2016, they were ranked by Forbes magazine as the seventh most valuable football club in the world, at £1.15 billion. In 1904, Gus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium with the aim of turning it into a football ground, an offer to lease it to nearby Fulham was turned down, so Mears opted to found his own club to use the stadium. Chelsea were founded on 10 March 1905 at The Rising Sun pub, opposite the main entrance to the ground on Fulham Road. The club won promotion to the First Division in their second season and they reached the 1915 FA Cup Final, where they lost to Sheffield United at Old Trafford, and finished third in the First Division in 1920, the clubs best league campaign to that point. Chelsea attracted large crowds and had a reputation for signing big-name players, former Arsenal and England centre-forward Ted Drake became manager in 1952 and proceeded to modernise the club. The following season saw UEFA create the European Champions Cup, but after objections from The Football League, Chelsea failed to build on this success, and spent the remainder of the 1950s in mid-table. Drake was dismissed in 1961 and replaced by player-coach Tommy Docherty, Docherty built a new team around the group of talented young players emerging from the clubs youth set-up and Chelsea challenged for honours throughout the 1960s, enduring several near-misses. They were on course for a treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup going into the stages of the 1964–65 season, winning the League Cup. In three seasons the side were beaten in three major semi-finals and were FA Cup runners-up, under Dochertys successor, Dave Sexton, Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1970, beating Leeds United 2–1 in a final replay. Chelsea took their first European honour, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup triumph, the year, with another replayed win
Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club /ˈtɒtnəm, -tənəm/, commonly referred to as Spurs, is an English football club located in Tottenham, Haringey, London, that competes in the Premier League. The clubs home stadium is White Hart Lane and their newly developed training ground is in Bulls Cross on the northern borders of the London Borough of Enfield. Founded in 1882, Tottenham won the FA Cup for the first time in 1901, Tottenham were the first club in the 20th century to achieve the League and FA Cup Double, winning both competitions in the 1960–61 season. After successfully defending the FA Cup in 1962, in 1963 they became the first British club to win a UEFA club competition – the European Cup Winners Cup, in 1967, Spurs won the FA Cup for a third time in the 1960s. In the 1970s Tottenham won the League Cup on two occasions and were the winner of the UEFA Cup in 1972, becoming the first British club to win two different major European trophies. In the 1980s Spurs won several trophies, the FA Cup twice, FA Community Shield, in the 1990s the club won the FA Cup and the League Cup. When they won the League Cup once more in 2008, it meant that they had won a trophy in each of the last six decades – an achievement only matched by Manchester United. The clubs Latin motto is Audere est Facere, and its emblem is a cockerel standing upon a football, the club has a long-standing rivalry with nearby neighbours Arsenal, with head-to-head fixtures known as the North London derby. The club was formed in 1882, as Hotspur F. C. and played in the Southern League from 1896 until 1908, when they were elected into the Football League Second Division. Before this promotion Tottenham had won the FA Cup in 1901, since then, Tottenham have won the FA Cup a further seven times, the Football League twice, the Football League Cup four times, the UEFA Cup twice and also the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. The Cup Winners Cup victory in 1963 made Tottenham the first English team to win a UEFA competition, in 1960–61 they became the first team to complete The Double in the 20th century. Tottenham played their first matches at Tottenham Marshes on the public pitches. It was at this ground that Spurs first played archrivals Arsenal, there were occasions on which fights would break out on the marshes in dispute of the teams that were allowed to use the best pitches. Crowd sizes were regularly increasing and a new site was becoming needed to accommodate these supporters, in 1898 the club moved from the marshes to Northumberland Park and charged an admission fee of 3d. They only remained at this ground for a year as in April 1899,14,000 fans turned up to watch Spurs play Woolwich Arsenal. The ground was no able to cope with the larger crowds and Spurs were forced to move to a new larger site 100 yards down the road. The White Hart Lane ground was originally a disused nursery owned by the brewery Charringtons, the landlord spotted the increased income he could enjoy if Tottenham played their matches behind his pub and in 1899 the club moved in. They brought with them the stand they used at Northumberland Park which gave shelter to 2,500 fans, notts County were the first visitors to the Lane in a friendly watched by 5,000 people and provided in £115 in receipts, Spurs won 4–1
Villa Park is a football stadium in Aston, Birmingham, England, with a seating capacity of 42,682. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897, the ground is less than a mile from both Witton and Aston railway stations and has hosted sixteen England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899 and the most recent in 2005. It was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries, Villa Park has hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than any other stadium, having hosted 55 matches in total. In 1897, Aston Villa moved into the Aston Lower Grounds, a ground in a Victorian amusement park in the former grounds of Aston Hall. The stadium has gone through stages of renovation and development, resulting in the current stand configuration of the Holte End, Trinity Road Stand, North Stand. The club has planning permission to redevelop the North Stand. Before 1914, a track ran around the perimeter of the pitch where regular cycling meetings were hosted as well as athletic events. Aside from football-related uses, the stadium has seen various concerts staged along with sporting events including boxing matches and international rugby league. In 1999, the last ever final of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup took place at Villa Park, Villa Park also hosted the 2012 FA Community Shield, as Wembley Stadium was unavailable due to it staging the final of the Olympic football tournament. The Aston Lower Grounds, later renamed Villa Park, was not the first home of Aston Villa F. C and their previous venue, Wellington Road faced increasing problems including an uneven pitch, poor spectator facilities, a lack of access and exorbitant rents. As a result, in 1894, Villas committee began negotiations with the owners of the Aston Lower Grounds, situated in the former grounds of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home, the Lower Grounds had seen varied uses over the years. The current pitch stands on the site of the Dovehouse Pool, the committee immediately engaged an architect who began preparing plans for the site, which included construction of a new 440 yards cement cycle track to replace the existing cinder one. The main stand was to be built to the east on the Witton Lane side, with the track, construction of the final phase of the stadium began in the winter of 1896 following negotiations with contractors over the price. Several months behind schedule, the stadium finally opened on 17 April 1897. The process of fixing issues with the work would continue for a number of months thereafter. As built, the stadium could house 40,000 spectators, the first match at the ground, a friendly against Blackburn Rovers, took place on 17 April 1897, one week after Aston Villa had completed the League and FA Cup Double. After winning the championship in 1899, Villas record-breaking average crowd of 21,000 allowed the club to invest in a two-stage ground improvement programme. In 1911, Villa bought the freehold of the ground for £8,250, the buildings in the old aquarium and car park area for £1,500
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It adjoins Cheshire to the north west, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the south east, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west. The largest city in Staffordshire is Stoke-on-Trent, which is administered separately from the rest of the county as an independent unitary authority, Lichfield also has city status, although this is a considerably smaller cathedral city. Major towns include Stafford, Burton upon Trent, Cannock, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Leek, smaller towns include Stone, Uttoxeter, and Rugeley, and large villages Eccleshall, Wombourne, Kinver, Penkridge, Tutbury and Stretton. Cannock Chase AONB is within the county as well as parts of the National Forest, Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Bromwich, and Smethwick were historic Staffordshire towns until local government reorganisation created the West Midlands county in 1974. Historically, Staffordshire was divided into the five hundreds of Cuttlestone, Offlow, Pirehill, Seisdon, the historic boundaries of Staffordshire cover much of what is now the metropolitan county of West Midlands. The Act also saw the towns of Tamworth and Burton upon Trent united entirely in Staffordshire, in 1553 Queen Mary made Lichfield a county separate from the rest of Staffordshire. Handsworth and Perry Barr became part of the county borough of Birmingham in the early 20th century, Burton, in the east of the county, became a county borough in 1901, and was followed by Smethwick, another town in the Black Country in 1907. In 1910 the six towns of the Staffordshire Potteries, including Hanley, a major reorganisation in the Black Country in 1966, under the recommendation of the Local Government Commission for England led to the creation of an area of contiguous county boroughs. Meanwhile, the county borough of Dudley, historically a part of Worcestershire, expanded. County boroughs were abolished, with Stoke becoming a district in Staffordshire. On 1 April 1997, under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, in July 2009 the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found in Britain was discovered in a field near Lichfield. The artefacts, known as The Staffordshire Hoard have tentatively dated to the 7th or 8th centuries. Some nationally and internationally known companies have their base in Staffordshire. They include the Britannia Building Society which is based in Leek, JCB is based in Rocester near Uttoxeter and bet365 based in Stoke-on-Trent. The theme park Alton Towers is in the Staffordshire Moorlands and several of the worlds largest pottery manufacturers are based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire has a completely comprehensive system with eight independent schools. Most secondary schools are from 11–16 or 18, but two in Staffordshire Moorlands and South Staffordshire are from 13–18, there are two universities in the county, Keele University in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire University, which has campuses in Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Lichfield and Shrewsbury. The modern county of Staffordshire currently has three football clubs – Stoke City and Port Vale, both from Stoke-on-Trent, and Burton Albion, who play in Burton upon Trent. They were among the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888, in 1972, the club finally won a major trophy when they lifted the Football League Cup, but after relegation from the First Division in 1985 they would not experience top flight football for 23 years