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
Anthony Richard Tony Pulis is a Welsh football manager and former footballer who is the head coach of West Bromwich Albion. Pulis obtained his FA coaching badge at age 19, followed by his UEFA A licence aged 21 – making him one of the youngest professional players ever to have obtained the qualification and his son, Anthony, was a professional footballer and played at Stoke. Pulis had a 17-year career as a defender where he played for Bristol Rovers, Newport County, AFC Bournemouth and he also had a short spell in Hong Kong with Happy Valley. Pulis took his first steps into management at AFC Bournemouth, where he was a player/coach and he then took control when Redknapp left the club. He then went on to Gillingham before leaving in 1999 after a dispute with chairman Paul Scally, Pulis then had unsuccessful spells at Bristol City and Portsmouth before being appointed manager of Stoke City in 2002. He guided Stoke through a tough 2002–03 season avoiding relegation to the Second Division on the day of the season. He spent two seasons with Stoke before being sacked by Stokes Icelandic board for failing to exploit the foreign market. He spent the 2005–06 season at Plymouth Argyle before returning to Stoke along with Peter Coates, after narrowly missing out on a play-off spot in the 2006–07 season he guided Stoke to the Premier League in the 2007–08 season by finishing runners-up in the Championship. With Stoke amongst the favourites for relegation upon their return to the top flight after a 23-year absence, Stoke went on to comfortably survive, Pulis made history during the 2010–11 season as he guided Stoke to their first FA Cup Final after beating Bolton Wanderers 5–0 in the semi-final. The Potters, however, lost the final 1–0 to Manchester City, in the UEFA Europa League, Stoke were drawn against Croatian side Hajduk Split and after two legs ran out 2–0 winners. After beating Swiss club Thun, Stoke were handed a tough group containing Beşiktaş, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv which Stoke managed to progress through, finishing in second position. Citys reward was a tie against Spanish giants Valencia, but despite putting up a spirited second-leg performance, the 2012–13 season saw Stoke make little progress and Pulis left the club by mutual consent on 21 May 2013. Pulis returned to management on 23 November 2013 joining Crystal Palace on a two-and-a-half-year contract and he guided Palace away from relegation, to their highest Premier League finish of 11th in 2013–14, which earned him the Premier League Manager of the Season award. He left the club, however, shortly before the start of the subsequent season and he joined West Brom in January 2015. Pulis began his career at Bristol Rovers where he joined their school of excellence in Eastville from Newport YMCA. Pulis cites his time at Eastville as an excellent grounding with his Rovers team mate, the basic principles were drilled into us, both on and off the pitch. Nothing was given to us and we had to very, very hard for everything we got. Pulis made 85 league appearances for the Pirates before leaving to join Hong Kong club Happy Valley AA in 1981 and he returned to Rovers the following year and made a further 45 league appearances before moving to his home town club Newport County in 1984
The bet365 Stadium is an all-seater football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England and the home of Premier League club Stoke City. The stadium was called the Britannia Stadium but was renamed on 1 June 2016 when the club entered into a new stadium-naming rights agreement with its parent company. It has space for 27,902 spectators with expansions plans announced by the club, the stadium was built in 1997 at a cost of £14.7 million as a replacement for the Victoria Ground. The highest attendance recorded at the stadium was 28,218 for the fixture against Everton in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie in 2002. Former player Sir Stanley Matthews ashes were buried beneath the circle of the pitch following his death in February 2000. In European competitions it is known as the Stoke Stadium due to UEFA regulations on sponsorship, the all-seater stadium cost nearly £15 million to build and brought the club up to standards with the Taylor Report of January 1990 to end 119 years at the Victoria Ground. Relocation had been considered by 1994 and by early 1996 the decision to build a new stadium had been confirmed, by early 1997, the skeletal steel superstructure was in place and the stadium began to take shape. Another £3 million was given as a grant by the Football Trust, the stadium was officially opened made by club legend Sir Stanley Matthews, then aged 82. After he died in February 2000, his ashes were buried beneath the centre circle. The first season at the new ground was a bad one as Stoke were relegated from Division One, four seasons of third tier football followed with Gunnar Gíslason taking control of the club in November 1999. The name of the ground was changed to the bet365 Stadium in June 2016, in total, the stadium cost £14. 7million and took around ten months to construct on the former site of Stafford No.2 Colliery, which had been closed in 1969. Building work began in late autumn 1996 and was completed in August 1997, the all-seater stadium can hold 28,384 supporters in four cantilever stands. The main West stand consists of two tiers of seating which house 7,357 spectators, plus all of the stadiums corporate, the L-shaped Boothen and East stands hold 6,006 and 8,789 people respectively. The South Stand, which is used by home and away supporters can hold 4,996 people but is unlikely to reach capacity due to spectator segregation. The clubs dressing rooms, offices, boardroom, ticket office, in 2006, work took place on the A50 to allow direct access to the stadium from the eastbound direction, involving building a bridge across the road. It is close to the Sideway junction with the A500, at the start of the 2010–11 season, the stadium was accessible via a new underpass under Stanley Matthews Way, to reduce traffic problems with exiting the area back onto the A50. In the middle of 2009, surveyors were asked to investigate the feasibility of filling in one, filling in a corner of the ground would cost approximately £3 million, increasing capacity by around 3,000 seats and taking the total capacity to over 30,000. In November 2009, chairman Peter Coates said that a decision on expansion would be made at the end of the season and was dependent on the clubs Premier League survival
Ricardo Dwayne Fuller is a retired Jamaican professional footballer who played as a striker. He has also played for the Jamaica national team, Fuller started his football career with Jamaican side Tivoli Gardens, before he moved to England with Crystal Palace in February 2001. He returned to Jamaica and then went on loan to Hearts and he scored 27 goals in 58 League game at Preston, which prompted Portsmouth to pay £1million for his services. Fuller failed to make an impact at Portsmouth and joined rivals Southampton in 2005 before Stoke City signed him for £500,000 in August 2006. At Stoke, he became a member of the first team. He remained a key figure in the top-flight, despite a poor record, and helped Stoke reach the 2011 FA Cup Final. After he recovered from his injury he was give a bit-part role. He spent the 2013–14 season with Blackpool and 2014–15 with Millwall and he joined Oldham Athletic in October 2015. Fuller was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and began his career with Tivoli Gardens and he had a trial with Charlton Athletic, playing in three reserve team matches. He moved to English club Crystal Palace in February 2001 for a fee of £1 million. At the time of his transfer he was suspended by the Jamaican football authority for kicking a Wadadah player in the head and he suffered from knee problems, and played just eight games for the Eagles. He returned to Tivoli at the end of the campaign failing to settle in London. Fuller spent the next season 2001–02 on loan at Scottish Premier League club Hearts and he had an instant impact, scoring 8 goals in 27 appearances, and finishing as the clubs joint top-scorer with Kevin McKenna. However, the Edinburgh-based club could not afford to sign Fuller on a permanent basis, Preston North End stepped in to sign the striker, paying £500,000. Fuller scored on his Preston debut, a 2–1 defeat at home to old club Crystal Palace and he had an explosive scoring rate, but unfortunately he suffered knee ligament damage in early December, which ended his season prematurely. He had scored 11 goals in only 20 appearances for the club, a fit again Fuller began the 2003–04 season on fire, including a run of six goals in five games, but his form tailed off as his knee troubled him once more. Despite this, he still scored 19 goals that season to become the clubs top-scorer, Fuller handed in a transfer request in June 2004 to force through a move to a Premiership club. Both Leeds United and Portsmouth then displayed their interest, however, Fuller moved to Fratton Park in August 2004 for £1 million, after scoring 31 goals in only 63 appearances for Preston
Southend United F.C.
Southend United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. The team compete in League One, the tier of English football. Southend are known as The Shrimpers, a reference to the maritime industry included as one of the quarterings on the club badge. Founded 19 May 1906 in the Blue Boar pub Southend has been a member of the Football League since 1920, the club has spent most of its League career in the English lower divisions, with seven seasons in the Leagues second tier. The club is based at Roots Hall Stadium in Prittlewell, with plans to move to a new stadium at Fossetts Farm. The club has played at five grounds, the original Roots Hall, the Kursaal, the Greyhound Park, Roots Hall was the first stadium that the club owned and was built on the site of their original home, albeit at a lower level. The site previous to Southend purchasing it in 1952 had been used as a quarry, by the council as a landfill site. It took 10 years to complete the building of Roots Hall. The first game was played on 20 August 1955, a 3–1 Division Three victory over Norwich City, the North Stand had a single-barrelled roof which ran only the breadth of the penalty area, whilst the West Bank was covered at its rear only by a similar structure. Drainage was a problem, and the wet winter turned the ground into a quagmire, the terracing was finally completed soon after, but the colossal task of completely terracing the South Bank, all of its 72 steps, was not completed until 1964. The North Bank roof was extended in the early 1960s, floodlights were also installed during this period. Until 1988 Roots Hall was still the newest ground in the Football League, United had hit bad times in the mid-1980s and new chairman Vic Jobson sold virtually all of the South Bank for development, leaving just a tiny block of 15 steps. In 1994, seats were installed onto the original terracing whilst a second tier was added, the West Bank had already become seated in 1992 upon Uniteds elevation to Division Two whilst the East Stand paddock also received a new seating deck, bolted and elevated from the terracing below. The application was submitted to Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. However, the application was called in at the beginning of April 2007, the inquiry began in September 2007, followed in October 2007 by a final inquiry, when chairman Ron Martin called for supporters to show in numbers at Southends local government headquarters. On 6 March 2008, permission to develop Fossetts Farm was given by the government, the club has a fierce local rivalry with fellow Essex side Colchester United. The two clubs were promoted from League One at the end of the 2005–06 season after a battle for top spot was eventually won by Southend. The rivalry extends back many years, the two clubs met again in an Essex derby match in the same competition the following season, with Southend emerging as the victors once more after a penalty shootout
Plymouth Argyle F.C.
Plymouth Argyle Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Plymouth, Devon, England. They have played in League Two, the tier of the English football league system. They are one of two teams in Devon currently competing in the Football League, the other being Exeter City – Argyles local rivals, since becoming professional in 1903, the club has won five Football League titles, five Southern League titles and one Western League title. The 2009–10 season was the clubs 42nd in the tier of English football. The team set the record for most championships won in the tier, having finished first in the Third Division South twice, the Third Division once. The club takes its nickname, The Pilgrims, from an English religious group that left Plymouth for the New World in 1620, the club crest features the Mayflower, the ship that carried the pilgrims to Massachusetts. The club have played in dark green and white throughout their history, with a few exceptions in the late 1960s. The city of Plymouth is the largest in England never to have hosted top-flight football and they are the most southerly and westerly League club in England. Home Park is the 37th biggest stadium in England, the original ground of the professional club at Home Park was destroyed by German bombers during the Blitz on Plymouth in World War II. Having been rebuilt after the war, Home Park was largely demolished as part of a process of renovation. The new Devonport End was opened for the 2001 Boxing Day fixture with Torquay United, the other end, the Barn Park End, opened on the same day. The Lyndhurst stand reopened on 26 January 2002 for the game against Oxford United, plans are currently under discussion regarding the completion of the refurbishment of the ground with the replacement of the Mayflower stand. The ground is situated in Central Park, very near to the area of Peverell. Towards the end of the 2005–06 Championship season, the decided to buy the stadium for £2.7 million from Plymouth City Council. This purchase was concluded in December 2006, in December 2009 it was announced that the stadium was to be one of 12 chosen to host matches during the World Cup 2018, should Englands bid be successful. The then Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton stated that work on a new South Stand at Home Park would start in 2010, however, England failed to be chosen for the 2018 tournament, and Plymouth Argyle entered administration in March 2011. After selling the back to the council on 14 October 2011 for £1.6 million. The club was taken over by local business owner James Brent, who submitted fresh plans to build a new Mayflower Grandstand with a 5,000 seating capacity