We’ve played at their gaff – but not against them. Yet, we have played against them. You still with us? Stoke City. What’s going on there, eh? After all, some years ago we were going round asking each other “is this the way to the Britannia”. Of course, it wasn’t to call in on the Potters. No, it was to lock horns with Carlisle United. And the less said about that, the better. For now, at least. Like our first meeting with the Staffordshire club, actually.
Formed in 1863, the Potters claim to be the oldest professional Football League club. But it also sounds like the club were actually founded in 1868. You’d think someone wrote this all down at the time. But, hey, we all need something to talk about the water cooler. When we get back to our offices. Whenever that may be. Ahem – moving swiftly on…
Given their age, can you believe the Potters have few major honours to their name? This definitely surprised us when we looked back through the archives. Apart from the 1971-2 League Cup, both the top flight title and FA Cup have so far eluded them. They did come within one win of the 1946-7 title. But a last-day defeat saw Liverpool take it instead.
And all this is despite being home to one of English football’s greatest players: Sir Stanley Matthews. You couldn’t write it Jeff, you really couldn’t.
Why do we know Stoke City?
To be fair, we’ve never come close to the Potters in terms of league standing. We’ve come within two divisions of them at different points in time. But that’s the closest the gap’s ever been. So, we had no cause to worry about ’em. And vice-versa. Even Boro’s first trip up to the Britannia had nothing to do with them – the 2004-5 Conference playoff final.
We don’t know how Stoke got the gig for that one. It makes sense in that it’s kinda halfway between us and Carlisle. But what if Aldershot got to the final instead of the Cumbrians? It was a venue big enough for the 13,500-odd crowd, to be fair. And maybe that’s it.
Our 1-0 defeat to Carlisle is still our only trip to the Britannia. And we’ve had no cause to go back. But the Potters found themselves back on our radar in a totally different way 11 years later. After a rare win in the League Cup, we had the novel experience of being in the draw for Round Two. And, almost out of nowhere, we pulled out Stoke indoors.
How to get to Stoke City – Travel Information – Distance: 137 miles
If you are travelling to Stoke City by car, you’ll find there are a couple of options open to you. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other when it comes to the differences, so we’ll give you details of both route options here.
M1/M6: This all-motorway option is as simple as it sounds. Go north on the M1 and take the M6 through the West Midlands. The M6 Toll is the preferred option here, though you can save your cash and go the old way too.
Keep heading north on the M6 until you reach Junction 15. You want the second exit at the roundabout to take you towards Stoke. Around 1.7 miles down the road, keep left for the A50 exit ramp for Derby, Uttoxeter and others.
On this ramp, use the middle lane and follow signs for Trentham and Fenton. You’ll come to a roundabout, at which you’ll want the second exit for the A50. Shortly after, take the left lane again for the Trentham Lakes Junction and then the right two lanes.
M1/A50: To save a mile on your distance, albeit at the expense of the odd minute, you can approach Stoke from the east. It involves heading north on the M1 again, but this time continuing past the M6 junction and onto Junction 24.
This is the exit for the A453 near East Midlands Airport. Google says you want the third exit at the roundabout, not that we’re sure about that. Either way, you want the Derby-bound A50. And you’ll be continuing on the A50 for around 40 miles until you get to Stoke.
If you don’t have a car park pass, there is first-come, first-served access to the South and Trent car parks from Stanley Matthews Way. There is access to these from the A50 and A5035, with full information available from Stoke City’s official website.
Services to: LONDON EUSTON
If you’re heading to Stoke by rail, there is a shuttle bus service from Glebe Street on matchdays. It is a two-minute walk from the station and can be found by leaving the station by its main entrance and turning right.
At the traffic lights, turn right again onto Glebe Street and continue under the railway bridge. Go over the canal and A500, following Glebe Street down to the left and around the building. Buses leave on the left hand site by St Peter’s Church.
You can also make use of the Number 20 bus service or get a taxi. But, at around 45 minutes and over two miles, the walk might prove an option that’s a little too ambitious.
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