1863. Wound up in 1908
Re-formed in 1908.
Founder member of the Football League 1888. Failed re-election 1890.
Elected back into the Football League 1891. Resigned 1908.
Elected to Division Two 1915.
1873 q B
1877-1879 b B
1894-1897 b i
1898-1900 i A
1901-1903 b i
1904-1908 b i v
Re-formed as Stoke FC in 1908 after the old club was wound up.
First teams played in both the Southern League and Birmingham & District League.
1908-1915 b i v
1932-1937 b v
1937-1938 b v
1938-1945 i v
1946-1949 k i r
1950-1952 b v
1964-1965 m v
May 1966-67 alt g y
Aug-Dec 68 b d g n o
Dec 68-March 69 x z
1972-1973 b o x
1973-1974 e o x
1974-1975 (2) u
1975-1976 (1) d o
1975-1976 (2) u
1976-Feb 1977 o
Feb-May 1977 u
1977-1981 b d l
1981-1983 b l p
1983-1985 b e p
1986-1987 b d w
1987-1989 h l p
1989-1990 b p w
1990-1991 h p
1991-1992 b p
1992-1993 b e j p
1993-1994 e j p w
1994-1995 b e p
1995-1996 b e j
1996-1997 b e j
1999-2001 e l p
2003-2004 e l
2005-2006 a e l s t
It is generally accepted that Stoke were formed in 1863 by former pupils of Charterhouse School working as apprentices at the North Staffordshire Railway Works, making them the second oldest League club still in existence. There are no records of any matches until October 1868 when the team, known as Stoke Ramblers drew 1-1 in a fifteen-a-side game against EW May's XV. Their colours at this time are recorded by Percy M Young as "crimson and blue." Around 1871 "Ramblers" was dropped from the club's title and blue and black shirts were worn. During the 1870s Stoke became the leading club in the Potteries area, merging with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club in 1878, when they moved into what became known as the Victoria Ground, their home for the next 119 years.
There was considerable individual variation to the hooped jerseys worn up until 1883: players provided their own kit and their tops often did not match. In the 1882-83 season some players applied a stylised letter "S" to their jerseys but once again there were variations in the size and location of this early "crest."
Stoke entered the English FA Cup for the first time in 1883 and turned professional two years later. When the Football League was formed in 1888, Stoke were one of the 12 founder members.
Stoke finished bottom in both of their first two seasons, winning only seven matches throughout and lost their place to Sunderland in 1890 without a vote being taken. After finishing as champions of the Football Alliance in 1891, Stoke were voted back into the Football League following the decision to add two more clubs for the 1891-92 season. New regulations required that clubs now register their colours with the League and no two clubs could wear the same kit so Stoke wore black and gold in league games, retaining their red and white stripes for all other matches. Again they had to seek re-election at the end of the season but they held on to their place. Between 1895 and 1898 they had to contest test matches to avoid relegation to the new Second Division. They remained in the First Division (wearing claret shirts) until 1907 when a growing financial crisis came to a head following relegation to Division Two and gates plummeted. In 1908, having finished in mid-table, Stoke went into liquidation and resigned from the League. Ironically this galvanised local businessmen, the clergy (the Victoria Ground was owned by the Church of England) and supporters to form a new limited company and purchase the old club's assets. The new club applied to rejoin the League but were, perhaps not suprisingly, rejected in favour of Tottenham Hotspur.
Stoke now fielded first teams in both the Birmingham & District League and the Southern League. In the Birmingham League the team played in red and white shirts while the team that played in the Southern league continued to turn out in blue and red. In 1915, having finished as champions of the Southern League Second Division, Stoke were elected back into the Football League for the third time but, with all professional football suspended for the duration of the Great War, it was not until 1919 that they played their first fixture. In 1922, Stoke were promoted to Division One only to be relegated the following season. In 1926, now known as Stoke City, the club dropped into Division Three (North) but bounced back as champions in 1927. In 1933 Stoke won the Second Division championship to return to the First Division, with a 17-year-old Stanley Matthews playing 15 matches in his first season.
As Matthews grew in reputation, so did attendances, which went from an average of 11,500 to 23,000 and in 1934, the directors announced that the club was in the black for the first time. By the end of the decade, with Matthews at its heart, Stoke has a strong side that was widely expected to win honours but the Second World War intervened. The side that reassembled for the 1946-47 season comprised most of the pre-war squad, albeit six years older. They came within one win of clinching the championship but lost their final match at Sheffield United. Even worse, Matthews left in May to join Blackpool.
The club crest, which was based on the coat of arms of the city of Stoke, appeared on the team's shirts for the first time in 1953. The various elements are taken from the individual arms of the towns that were brought together in 1910 to form the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent: Burslem, Longton, Tunstall, Fenton and Stoke. This crest was dropped after four seasons.
In 1953, City dropped into Division Two: crowds dwindled and the club seemed to be going nowhere. In 1961, however, manager Tony Waddington pulled off a coup by persuading Matthews, now 46, to rejoin the club. Overnight, attendances trebled with 35,974 fans paying to watch his homecoming, paying off his £3,000 transfer fee into the bargain and in 1963, with Matthews weaving his magic on the right wing, Stoke won the Second Division championship in their centenary season. In 1965, now a knight, Stanley Matthews played his last game for Stoke at the remarkable age of 50.
In May 1966 Stoke adopted a candy-striped version of their traditional striped shirt which was worn in warm weather throughout 1966-67. Another variant appeared in December 1968: designed by David Herd (who had joined Stoke on a free transfer from Manchester United the previous summer), it featured traditional socks and a "kiln badge," the details of which were found by Keith MacKenzie-Ingle in November 2015.
England goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, signed from Leicester City for £52,000, became the mainstay of Stoke's side in the early 1970s and in 1972 they won their first major honour, beating Chelsea 2-1 to capture the League Cup. For the next few seasons, Stoke challenged for the championship (finishing fifth in 1974 and 1975) and enjoyed two European campaigns but in 1977 they were relegated.
A new and simpler club crest was introduced in 1977: a Stafford knot and pottery kiln represented local tradition while red and white stripes were added.
In 1979 Stoke were back in the First Division but it was a struggle to retain their place: after a radical change of kit in 1983, they were relegated in 1985 to Division Two and then in 1990 they dropped into Division Three.
A turning point was reached in 1991-92 when Lou Macari was appointed manager. The team won the Football League trophy and, the following season were promoted as Division Two (now the third tier) champions. During Macari's tenure, the full Stoke coat-of-arms was adopted as the club's crest, with their name added to a scroll at the top.
Stoke reached the play-offs in 1996 and the following year moved into the brand new Britannia Stadium, officially opened by Sir Stanley Matthews on 30 August 1997. Relegated again in 1998, Stoke were taken over by an Icelandic Consortium during the 1998-99 season.
Under their new ownership Stoke adopted a modernist new crest in 2001 and came through the play-offs to return to Nationwide Division One at the end of the season. Seven years later, in 2008 they were promoted to the Premier League after a gap of 23 years and in 2011 reached the FA Cup final for the first time in their long history, losing 0-1 to Manchester City.
A special crest was commissioned for the 2012-13 season, which marked the club's 150th anniversary, with their Latin motto (United Strength is Stronger) underneath.
- (a) Stoke City Official Website
- (b) Stoke City FC - Images of Sport (Tony Matthews 1999)
- (c) Bury FC - Images of Sport (Peter Cullen 1998)
- (d) Football Focus
- (e) empics
- (f) Ipswich Town FC - Images of Sport (Tony Garnett 2000)
- (g) Football Cards
- (h) The Oatcake Website - part of the Rivals network, this site has an interesting section on kits worn since the 1970s.
- (i) Pete Wyatt - HFK Research Associate
- (j) David King
- (k) Conn Barrett
- (l) True Colours 2 (John Devlin 2006)
- (m) Greger Lindberg
- (n) Football League Review provided by Simon Monks
- (o) Alick Milne
- (p) True Colours 2 (John Devln 2006)
- (q) "A History of British Football" (Percy M Young) provided by Peter Ferrette.
- (r) Simon Monks
- (s) Nick Brayford
- (t) Mike Pinkstone
- (u) Chris Worrall
- (v) Keith Ellis (HFK Research Associate)
- (w) Daniel Martin
- (x) Anthony Sealey
- (y) William Kay
- (z) Keith MacKenzie-Ingle
- (A) Daily Telegraph (March 20 1899) submitted by Kingsley (Wrexham FC)
- (B) Charles Alcock's Football Annuals 1873, 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881 researched by Robin Horton
Crests are the property of Stoke City FC. Team photograph courtesy of Stoke City FC.