Posted by: Lee H | 14/04/2010

Loved and Lost – Victoria Ground

Victoria Ground, Stoke-on-Trent (1878-1997)

The Victoria Ground - Former Home of Stoke City

Capacity – 22,500 (At closure)

Home of – Stoke City FC

Record Attendance – 51,380 (vs. Arsenal, 29 March 1937)

Last Result At Stadium – Stoke City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion (04 May 1997)

Last Golascorer At Ground – Andy Hunt (West Bromwich Albion)

The Old Boothen End

History

The Victoria Ground became Stoke City’s third home in 1878 after brief spells at the Victoria Cricket Ground and Sweetings Field’s situated opposite what became known as the Victoria Ground. Stoke went on to beat Talke Rangers 1-0 in the first ever match on 27th March 1878.

Initially designed as an athletics venue, it took until the 1930’s development of the Boothen End terrace, and the new 5000 seat Butler Street stand, complete with a barrel shaped roof, for the ‘Vic’ to become truely recognised as a football ground.

The ground was to develop slowly over time. In 1956 floodlights were installed, and during the 1960’s the main stand complete with new dressing rooms was built

Stoke were embarking on their golden era during the 1960’s and 70’s. Follwing on from their first, and only, major trophy success, the League Cup win in 1972, the Potters narrowly missed out on that illusive first ever league title, before one of the most unfortunate events in the club’s history took place in 1976.

The huge storm blew part of the roof off the old Butler Street stand causing £250,000 worth of damage. As a result the club ran into financial trouble and were forced into selling many of their star players, including Alan Hudson and Jimmy Grenhoff, who had helped them achieve success in the previous years.

In 1979 the final renovation of the Victoria Ground took place with building of the Stoke End, replaced the huge open terrace that contributed to crowds well over 40,000 during the decade.

The Boothen (Main) Stand and The Stoke End

Following the Taylor Report major redevelopment was needed to make the Victoria Ground an all-seater stadium. The club initially courted the idea of turning the ground around 90 degrees but with limited space and the massive costs involved of such a project, the decision was taken to move to a new purpose built stadium, what was to become known as the Britannia Stadium, at Trentham Lakes.

Stoke City played their final ever league match at the Victoria Ground on May 4th 1997, with Graham Kavanagh going on to score the last ever Stoke goal at the ground. The honour of the last ever league goal at the famous old ground went to West Bromwich Albion striker Andy Hunt who scored a late consolation for the visitors, as Stoke ran out 2-1 winners infront of a capacity crowd of 22,500.

To the frustration of many the site still remains undeveloped to this day as financial problems have led to many delays and plan changes for the site. All that remains of the ground that is recognisable are the red Boothen End gates and steps that led up to the terrace.

The Old Boothen Gates Are All That Remain At The Ground

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