|Ground:||the Britannia Stadium|
There is some doubt over when Stoke came into existence. It is reported that a club was formed in 1863 by former pupils of the Charterhouse School, but there is little evidence of matches being played.
A report in The Field magazine on 1868 stated that a club had been formed in Stoke-on-Trent and that its founder member was ex-Charterhouse School pupil Henry Almond.
So it is possible that matches had been played over the previous five years but the first on record played by Almond's team was in October 1868 and consisted mainly of railway employees. The team was called Stoke Ramblers.
The club turned professional in 1885, and became owners of their stadium, the Victoria Ground, around 1919. The club's most celebrated player Stanley Matthews made his debut in the 1930s and helped the club achieve promotion to the top flight in 1933.
Stoke mounted a serious title challenge in the 1946/47 season but missed out on the final day. Matthews, at the age of 32, opted to join Blackpool two matches earlier.
The club won its first major trophy in 1972 when beating Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup. They played a staggering 11 matches before achieving this feat.
The Potters have enjoyed sustained spells in the top tier of English football, while also residing in the Second Division, notably for a ten-year period in the 1950s and early 60s. Under Tony Waddington they remained in the First Division between 1963 and 1977, and it was in that period that they won their only major trophy.
Stoke had been back in the top flight for six successive seasons before they were relegated in 1984/85. The Potters remained in the Second Division for the rest of the decade. Between 1980 and 1990, the club had five managers and five chairmen.
Under Alan Ball, the club were relegated to the Third Division in 1991 and he failed to earn them promotion the following season. Lou Macari, though, steered them back up in time for the 1992/93 season, and made it two promotions in two campaigns by taking the club up to Division One that season.
Stoke consolidated their position for five seasons before relegation in 1997/98. Four seasons in the Second Division followed, until Thordarson took them back up.