Stoke Football Clubs and Stadiums

From 1979 until 1985 the British Darts Organisation chose to stage its World Darts Championship in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. That, perhaps more than anything else, should give you some indication of the quintessential Northernness of the area and the sport that has taken place there over the years. Other sports have been played in the city, of course, with three different rugby union clubs basing themselves within Stoke’s borders. Yet there’s no question that football is the dominant sport of the Staffordshire city known for its pottery trade and proximity to Alton Towers.

On this page we’ll tell you about Stoke City, the football club that bears the name of the area, as well as their local rivals Port Vale. There have been other clubs that have plied their tried in Stoke-on-Trent, including Dresden United that was active until 1898. Meir KA (1972-2010) and Eastwood Hanley (1946-1997) were two amateur sides that you could have been to see in the past, whilst both Norton United and Hanley Town continue to compete in the ninth level of the Football League pyramid, the North-West Counties Football League.

Adding markers to the map ...

Football Stadiums in Stoke

Stadium Capacity Team League
Bet365 Stadium 30,089 Stoke City FC Championship
Vale Park 19,052 Port Vale League Two

Stoke City - Bet365 Stadium (1.11 Miles to Stoke Minster)

A football club named Stoke Ramblers was founded in the city back in 1863 by former pupils of Charterhouse School who were working as apprentices for North Staffordshire Railway. The name Henry Almond will forever be enshrined in the history of the club, given that he was not only one of the main founders but also took on the role of club captain and scored their first ever goal. Until 1875 they played their games at Victoria Cricket Ground, eventually moving when more people wanted to watch them play that the venue could cope with. No major shock, therefore, when Stoke Victoria Cricket Club merged with the Ramblers and the newly formed side changed their name to Stoke Football Club.

To some extent it’s actually quite surprising that they didn’t become Stoke Athletic, given that they moved from their second home, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground in 1885. Instead of the club changing its name, however, the venue did, becoming known as the Victoria Ground soon after Stoke FC moved in. Unsurprisingly, considering the year the club was formed, Stoke became one of the Football League’s founding members when it was created in 1888. Success wasn’t particularly easy for the Potters to come by, finishing bottom of the new league twice in a row before failing to gain re-election in 1890. They won the Football Alliance league the following year and were promoted back in, remaining there until 1907. At that point financial problems resulted in them playing non-league football until 1914.

If you’re wondering when they took on the name that we know them by today, then you only have to look for when Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status - 1925. That was a full seventy-two years before they moved to their current home of the Bet365 Stadium, having played all of their football prior to that at the Victoria Ground. That includes matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion, two Midlands-based clubs that the Potters consider to be their natural rivals. There is a limited rivalry with Port Vale, mainly because the two sides have been in different divisions for most of their existence. In fact, prior to 2017 they had only met forty-six times, with Stoke City claiming the footballing superiority.

Port Vale - Vale Park (3.21 Miles to Stoke Minster)

vale park stadium
By David Ingham (Flickr: P4044322) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Stoke City was very much the first football club to be formed in the Staffordshire locale, with Port Vale not being founded until 1876. Perhaps that’s why the club is one of very few English teams that is not named after a geographical location; after all, given Stoke had taken the then town’s title into their name, what choice did they have? It’s a shame we can’t tell you more about the thought-process behind the formation of Port Vale, but limited information is actually available. The club has its own official version, stating that it was formed in Port Vale House in 1876. Yet the historian Jeff Kent has done a huge amount of research and believes that the club was probably formed as an a subsidiary of Porthill Victoria Football Club as late as 1879.

Regardless of when and why a new club in Stoke-on-Trent was formed, what we do know is that they played their matches at Limekiln Lane and Longport until 1880 when they moved to Westport. The side became Burslem Port Vale when they moved to the Burslem area of the city in 1884, playing their games at the Athletic Ground from the following year. An indication of the difference in stature between Stoke’s two sides can be found in the fact that City was a founding member of the Football League and Port Vale helped to form the Second Division in 1892. They had to resign from the league fifteen years later, however, when they endured some tough times financially and decided to drop the 'Burslem' from their title.

As you might have guessed from what we've told you so far, Port Vale struggled to find a permanent home for some time. They moved into The Old Recreation Ground in 1912, remaining there until their current stadium, Vale Park, was built in 1950. That was their fifth ground since the club was formed almost seventy-five years earlier and has undergone numerous changes the years. You can read more about that on our full stadium guide page if you’d like to. Despite sharing a city with Stoke City FC, there isn’t much of a rivalry there apart from the natural one based on their geographical location. The majority of people from Stoke-on-Trent might well support City, but the Valiants have their fair share of well-known supporters. These include both the darts player Phil "The Power" Taylor and former member of Take That, Robbie Williams.