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-VICTORIA GROUND HERO'S-

!!!FIND OUT ABOUT OUR GREATEST EVER STARS!!!

Below follows a list of Greats that have played at the Victoria Ground over the years, some I had the privalage to watch them play, others however were before my time, looking down this list however, it is clear that Stoke City have had some of the greatest players this counrty has ever produced pull on their famous red and white shirts.. Imagine the damage this lot could of done if they'd all played at the same time and in the same era for stoke City!!!.... then pinch yourself and wake up...

 

BanksGORDON BANKS:

Gordon Banks is considered by many people as the greatest goalkeeper ever, Gordon Banks joined Stoke City in the summer of 1967, from Leicester City, aged 29 years, for a mere 52,000. He made 293 League outings for Leicester City, and played for them against Stoke City in the 1964 League Cup final, and in two losing FA Cup finals. He won the first of his 73 full England caps in April 1963 (against Scotland) having already played twice for the Under-23 side. A year before joining Stoke City he gained a World Cup winners' medal when England defeated West Germany at Wembley.  He made 37 appearances for England while with Leicester. He made a further 36 appearances for England while with Stoke City making him Stoke's most-capped player at full international level. He was awarded the OBE in 1970. He played a total of 246 senior games for Stoke, gaining a League Cup winners' tankard in 1972, when he was also named both Footballer of the Year and Sportsman of the Year. On October 22, 1972, Banks was involved in a road accident, when his Ford Granada was involved in a head-on collision with a van. The accident cost him his sight in his right eye and forced him into an early retirement from League football in this country, If it hadn't of happened who knows how long he could of gone on and played for when you look at other goalkeepers like Peter Shilton.

 

 

BanksALAN "BLUTO" BLOOR:

As a schoolboy he represented Stoke-on-Trent Schoolboys, going onto win England youth caps. He signed professional forms on his 17th birthday with Stoke City, but manager Tony Waddington made him bide his time before making his first team appearance in 1961-62, going on to establish himself in the first team squad in 1965. Over the next 12 seasons, mainly partnered by Denis Smith, he was an inspiring figure in Stoke's defence. He eventually made a total of 484 first team appearances for the club, scoring 19 goals. He was a member of Stoke's 1972 League Cup and 1973 Watney Cup winning teams.

 

 

BanksNEIL FRANKLIN:

One of the finest defenders ever to pull on the No 5 shirt for Stoke City and England. Born in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, he starred for one of the club's nursery sides, Stoke Old Boys, before turning professional in January, 1939. During the war he made 186 appearances for The Potters as well as representing England. After the war he was regarded as the country's best centre-half, and went on to make 142 League and 20 FA Cup appearances for Stoke as well as adding 27 full caps to the 10 he gained during wartime and Victory internationals. In 1950, after turning down an invitation to go to the World Cup finals with England, Franklin decided to play in South America by signing for Colombian-based club, Sante Fe of Bogota. Sadly Franklin never played for Stoke again, and soon after his return was transferred to Hull City in February 1951. After leaving Hull he had brief spells with Crewe Alexandra, Stockport County and Mansfield Town. He also tried his hand at management finally leaving football after managing Colchester United, to run a pub in Sandon. Sadly he  died on February 9, 1996.

 

 

BanksFRANK  BOWYER

He joined Stoke City in June, 1937, soon after leaving school. Unfortunately World War Two disrupted his career, and it was not until February 1948, at the age of 26, that he finally played in the Football League and FA Cup competitions. He went on to make 436 senior appearances, netting 149 goals, to become one of the top marksmen in Stoke's history, finishing only three goals short of Freddie Steele's record of 140 League goals for the club. After 23 years with Stoke, Bowyer finally left the club in 1960 and played briefly for Macclesfield Town before retiring two years later. Sadly though he passed away.Considered by many to be one of Stoke's greatest ever players

 

 

 

BanksDENIS SMITH:

Born in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, he joined Stoke City as an apprentice in 1965, before turning professional in September, 1966, making his first team debut in September, 1968. He quickly became a permanent fixture in the side, teaming up with Alan Bloor in the centre of the Stoke defence, and went on to make 493 appearances for the club, over a 17 year period, scoring 41 goals. Smith was another member of the League Cup winning side in 1972. After ending his footballing career in 1982, he moved on to become manager of York City. He then had spells in charge at Sunderland, Bristol City, Oxford United and West Bromich Albion, before returning to Oxford United last season

 

 

BanksFREDDIE STEELE:

Born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Freddie Steele was signed for Stoke City in 1931, by manager Tom Mather. Nicknamed 'Nobby' he made his senior debut in December, 1934. He went on to score 220 goals for Stoke City in a total of 346 first-team appearances including wartime. He won a total of six England caps. He left the Victoria Ground in 1949 to become player/manager of Mansfield Town. He later joined Port Vale as player/manager and led them to the Third Division North championship and FA Cup semi-finals in 1953-54. He then spent a short time in South Africa. He died on April 23, 1976. I am also pretty sure my own Grandfather, an ex Vlae player also played against Freddy and regards him as one of the all time greats.

 

 

 

BanksFRANKIE SOO:

Signed by manager Frank Taylor in January, 1933, Frankie Soo became the first player of Chinese descent ever to appear in the Football League. He made 185 competitive appearances, for the club, scoring 17 goals, also making 81 wartime appearances scoring a further 17 goals, and winning eight wartime caps for England. In 1945 Soo moved to Leicester City for 4,600. He ended his playing career with Chelmsford City in 1950, and after retirement he went into coaching. He died in his home town of Liverpool in January, 1991.

 

 

 

 

BanksPETER SHILTON MBE, OBE

Peter Shilton, rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, joined Stoke City in November 1974 from  Leicester City for a fee of 300,000. He made 120 appearances for the Potters before being transferred to Nottingham Forest for 270,000 in September, 1977.  'Shilts' became the first footballer in history to appear in 1,000 Football League games, playing professional football for an amazing 31 years. He made 125 appearances for England at full international level, and was captain of his country on 15 occasions. Broke 1000 league appearences whilst playing for Leyton Orient.

 

 

 

 

BanksJOHN RITCHIE

Stoke City's top marksman of all-time, he scored a total of 176 goals in 343 first-team games for the Potters during two spells with the club, June, 1962, to November, 1966 and July, 1969, to May, 1975. John was brought to the Victoria ground by manager Tony Waddington, who had never seen him play, for just 2,500. During his first spell with the club he scored 30 goals in 47 senior appearances before being sold to Sheffield Wednesday in November, 1955, for 70,000. In August, 1969, Ritchie returned to the Victoria Ground, Stoke paying just 25,000 for the 'fans favourite striker'. Ritchie was another member of the League Cup winning side in 1972. Ritchie's football career was brought to an end by a double leg fracture and after retiring from football, he concentrated on his pottery business based in Stoke.

 

 

 

BanksMICK PEJIC:

Mick was another local lad who made it through the junior ranks at the Victoria Ground, and signed professional forms on his 18th birthday. He quickly established himself in the first team, making eight appearances for England Under-23 and winning four caps with the England senior squad. Pejic was also a member of the League Cup winning side in 1972. He went on to make a total of 336 competitive appearances for Stoke, scoring just eight times, before being transferred to Everton for 135,000 in February 1977. He later moved on to Aston Villa in September, 1979, but a groin injury forced him into an early retirement in 1980, after making a total of 360 League appearances. Returned as a coach under Lou Macari and played a part in Stoke reaching the first divison play offs in 1996 behind the scenes.

 

 

 

BanksTERRY CONROY:

He joined the Potters from the Irish club, Glentoran for 10,000 in March 1967. He went on to make 333 Cup and League appearances for Stoke, scoring 66 goals. A brilliant dribbler, who had pace, stamina and a fierce shot in either foot, he won a League Cup winners medal in 1972 when he starred in Stoke's 2-1 victory over Chelsea. Capped by The Republic of Ireland 26 times, he left the Victoria Ground for the Hong Kong club Bulova on a free transfer in 1979 having spent 12 years with the Potters. He returned to England in 1980 to play for Crewe Alexandra, scoring five goals in 37 League appearances before hanging up his boots to concentrate on his business. Currently doing PA work down at the Brit.

 

 

 

BanksGEORGE EASTHAM:

Started his league football with Irish league club, Ards, before moving to Newcastle United in 1956, where he made 124 League appearances, scoring 29 goals. In October, 1960, he joined Arsenal for 47,500, going on to score 40 goals in his 207 first team appearances for The Gunners. On August 18, 1966, Tony Waddington brought him to the Victoria Ground for 35,000. He went on to make 239 appearances, scoring five goals for the Potters, his most memorable strike being the winner in the 1972 League Cup final against Chelsea, when at the age of 35 years 161 days, he became the oldest player to receive a winners' medal. In 1971 he went to South Africa, playing on loan with Cape Town Spurs and later as player-manager of Hellenic. Back with Stoke, after retiring as a player, be became assistant to manager Waddington, and when Waddington was dismissed in March 1977, Eastham became Stoke's new manager. He held the position for barely a year, before Alan Durban took over the reins in February 1978. He was awarded the MBE in 1973.

 

 

BanksJIMMY GREENHOFF:

Born in Barnsley, Greenhoff played for Barnsley Schools and Yorkshire Schools before going to Leeds United as an apprentice. He went on to play in 94 League games scoring 21 goals from 1961 (apprentice) until August, 1968. He was then transferred to Birmingham City for 70,000 and spent a season a St Andrew's, scoring 15 goals in 36 senior outings. In August 1969, Tony Waddington brought him to Stoke for 100,000, and he immediately made an impact on the Potteries. He was a key member of the 1972 League Cup winning side and in his seven year stay at Stoke City he scored 101 goals in 338 first-team appearances. In November, 1976, he left Stoke City to join Manchester United for 120,000, he went on to score 36 goals in 122 outings for United. In 1980 he joined Crewe Alexandra, and later had a brief spell as their manager. Afterwards he went to Canada to play for Toronto Blizzard and rounded off his career with two seasons at Port Vale (1981-83) and a season as player-manager of Rochdale, returning as coach at Vale Park. Greenhoff finished his playing career with a League record of 146 goals in 571 appearances. He now lives locally in Alsager. Also scored what my dad considers to of been the greatest ever goal scored by a Stoke city player, a volley vs Birmingham City...

 

 

BanksALAN HUDSON:

'Huddy' had two spells at Stoke the first from January, 1974, to December, 1976, and the second from January, 1984, to September, 1985. He made a total of 170 League and Cup games for the Potters, scoring nine goals. Born in Chelsea, London, Hudson started his career as an apprentice at Stamford Bridge, turning professional in June, 1968. He scored 14 goals in 189 League and Cup games for Chelsea, helping them win the European Cup-winners' Cup in 1971. He joined Stoke for 240,000 in 1973. He later joined Arsenal for 200,000 after picking up an FA Cup losers' medal with the Gunners in 1978 and having a brief spell with Seattle Sounders and Hercules Alicante in Spain. In August, 1983, he returned to Stamford Bridge, and six months later he was back at Stoke who paid 22,500 as part of a deal which saw Mickey Thomas go to the Londoners. Hudson remained with the Potters for the rest of his playing career, retiring from competitive football through a knee injury soon after the 1985-86 season had kicked-off. He was capped twice by England at senior level and 10 times by the Under-21s. He scored 19 goals in a total of 324 League games for his three English clubs. My dad once had a very big arguement in a bar with Mr. Hudson, then again didn't everyone?

 

 

GEOFF HURST:

Born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Hurst played for Halstead Chelmsford City as a teenager before joining West Ham United's apprentice staff in 1958. He turned professional at Upton Park in April 1959 and played for them until August 1972 when he moved to The Victoria Ground. During his time with the Hammers he became a legend scoring 252 in a total of 502 senior appearances. While he was with West Ham Hurst also scored 24 goals in 49 international appearances for England, including the famous hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup against West Germany at Wembley. He also won four under-23 caps and played six times for the Football League side. He was a FA Cup and European Cup-winners' Cup winner with the Hammer in 1964 and 1965 respectively and played in the 1966 League Cup final defeat against West Brom.
When he left the Hammers for Stoke City, the fee was 75,000, which proved to be money well spent by manager Tony Waddington as Hurst went on to score 37 goals in 128 games for the Potters up to August 1975 when he was transferred to West Bromwich Albion for 20,000. He was 34 years old when he signed for the Baggies and spent barely a season there before briefly playing for Cork Celtic, and Seattle Sounders (NASL).
He came back to England as player-manager of Telford United and had a spell as coach in charge of England's under-21 side, later acting as assistant manager of the full England squad (under his former boss at West Ham, Ron Greenwood). In the late 1970s he was made coach at Chelsea and managed them from 1979 to 1981 before going over to coach in Kuwait.

 

BanksPETER FOX

Peter holds the record for the most appearances as a goalkeeper for Stoke City. He spent more than 15 years at Stoke, from March, 1978, to July, 1993, and in that time made 477 first-team appearances. He joined Stoke City for 15,000 from Barnsley, and after a loan spell with Linfield (1992) he left the Potters for Exeter City on a free transfer in July, 1993, taking over as player-manager at St James' Park in the summer of 1995. He passed the magic 650 appearance mark in 1996, the year he retired as a player. Was replaced as manager of Exeter by ex Stoke defender Noel Blake last season.

 

 

 

LARUS SIGURDSSON
Born Akureyri, Iceland (4.6.73).
Ht 6.0 Wt 13.11.
Debut 1994.
Previous clubs: none-English.
He may not look it, but he's incredibly strong and that's something you soon find out in training. Great man-to-man defender who has plenty of speed to call on. Everyone gets on with 'Larry' - though we're convinced he's talking about us when he rattles on in Icelandic with his brother Kris. Very proud of his country and has the flag tattooed on his arm. On September 17 Brian Little returned to Stoke City to lure away Larus Sigurdsson in a 350,000 move to West Bromwich Albion. In his later days at Stoke quiet a few people thought that Siggi's atitude slipped a bit and this left a bit of a sor taste in Stoke Supporters mouths.. but at the end of the day, when at his best Siggi was indeed one of the best.

 

                                          MIKE SHERON

Mike was signed in a swap deal  from Norwich with saw donkey Keith Scott go in the other direction. I alwasy remember Mike's home debut against Crystal Palace, he was denied in the first half by two superb Nigel Martyn save and grabbed a last minute consilation with a thunderous 30 yarder as Stoke lost 2-1. From the on Mike Sheron was on fire. Shezza as he was known to the Boothen End formed a deadly strike force with Simon Sturridge that very nearly fired Stoke in to the Premiership in 1996. Along the way Mike broke a long standing Stoke City record for scoring in consecutive games. The following season Mike again started the season like a man possessed, banging in 19 goals before Christmas. Then after the new year things were  never to be the same again.. Mike had attracted intrest from QPR and the transfer soeculation affected his game and scoring ratio.. However he did pop up in the second to last last game of the season to score a brace against  Port Vale to win the last ever Potteries Derby at the Victoria Ground before heading of to QPR for 2.5 million pounds in the summer. Up on his return with QPR the next season Mike didn't get the best of receptions from the North Stand. Most notably he scored a hat trick of goals against Arsenal and England Goal keeper David Seaman in the league Cup.

 

 

KEVIN KEEN:

Kevin Keen Joined Stoke City from Wolverhampton Wanders in 1994, seeing as the solution to Stoke's lack of numbers in Midfield. He duely popped up with a goal on his debut against former club Wolverhampton Wanders.. Keeno was a class player for Stoke City, however injuries played a major part in getting in the way of his Stoke Carear.  During the crap of the "Brian Little" era at Stoke Kevin was a guiding light and was nominated player of the season, before being released by little only to resign again under Megson, howver injuries crippled  his return and he was again released at the end of the 1999/2000 season.. On his day Kevin could rip defences appart and was always appreciated by Stoke City fans for all his hard work.

 

 

 

wardGRAHAM KAVANAGH
Born Dublin (2.12.73).
Ht 5.10 Wt 12.06.
Debut 1996.
Previous clubs: Middlesbrough, Hartlepool (loan).
Wants to play at a higher level and a lot of people are tipping him for that. Great scoring record in the last two seasons and we may have been guilty of relying on him too heavily for goals. Graham will go down in history as the last ever Stoke Player to score a goal at the Victoria Ground when he chipped WBA keeper Alan Miller in the Vic's final ever league game. When Kav is on form nobody can stop him. He needs to get some sort of consistancy going though and if he can do that he will indeed go on to be a legend at Stoke City.. Still playing for Stoke to this day and scored at Wembley and made the winning gola in the 1999/2000 Auto Windscreen Shield Final.

 

                                                   MARK STEIN:

Mark Stein is  probably the biggest and last much loved hero that the Victoria Ground had.. Signed by Lou Macari from Oxford for 100,000  in 1991 Stein went on to partner Wayne Biggins up front in the Stoke in the side that won the 1992 Autoglass Trophey at Wembley, with Stein scoring the winning goal. The following season Stein returned even better , scoring 30 odd goals that won the 2nd Division Title for Stoke. The following season his scoring continued at a simaler ratio in division 1 and he went on to  smash two goals passed Manchester United Goal Keeper Peter Schemicheal as Stoke beat Man United at the Victoria Ground in the Coca Cola cup at the Vic. Eventually though Stein was sold off to Chelsea for 1.6 million where he went on to break and still hold the record for a Premiership player scoring in consecutive games. He returned to Stoke on loan in November 1996 for 3 months and partnered Mike Sheron, Stein chipped in with 4 goals before returning to Chelsea. He then moved on to Bournmouth on a free transfer and has since been released.

 

                                              NIGEL GLEGHORN:

(seen here in the colours of Burnley following his release from Stoke)

I have not been around to see such players like Alan Hudson, Terry Conroy or Stanley Matthews so I haven't seen any Stoke City  hero's when they were at the top, but for me Nigel Gleghorn was one of my all time Hero's when he was at Stoke. Signed from Birmingham City by Lou Macari in 1992 "Foghorn" was initially a left sided midfielder and he chipped in with his fair number of goals in our championship season including the second in the 2 -1 win at Vale Park that virtually secured us the second division Championship to divison 1 in 1993. Gleggy continued to be a first teamer at Stoke in Division One until in the 1995/1996 season Lou Macari decided to switch him to central midfield. Now if I had thought Gleggy had looked good on the left wing before, nothing would prepare me for what I saw when he was switched to the middle of the Park, he was f##king outstanding! as he continued to score his goalls from midfield and act as play maker to  Sheron and Sturridge up front. Gleghorn was skipper when Stoke just missed out on the Premiership in 1996, he was then released on a free transfer.. A BIG mistake by Stoke City I feel.. Still to this day we have yet to find anyone to replace Nigel in midfield and have suffered for it over the last few seasons.

 

                                         VINCE OVERSON:

Signed by Lou Macari from Birmingham for 55,000 Vince was almost as good a bargin as the Stein deal.. Vince was made captain and was a natural leader and also a huge, powerful Centre half, He was Captain at Wembley when Stoke City won the Autoglass Trophy in 1992 and a year later he lifted the Second Division Championship with Stoke. With Stoke back in the 1st Divison Vince formed a solid partnership with Ian Cranson (see below) in the centre of defence, the two of them were like a pair f rocks when they were together, again something that Stoke have missed in previous seasons.. Sadly Vince's Stoke carear was bought to an end on the 22nd of November 1995 when he suffered an injury in the 1 0 home win against eventual champions Sunderland. Vince was to never play for Stoke again and was released at the end of the season and ended up joining Burnley along with former Birmingham and Stoke team mate Nigel Gleghorn.

 

 

                                              IAN CRANSON:

Ian Cranson was Vince Overson's Central defensive partner for many years at Stoke.. As I said the two of them when together were like a pair of rocks and both of them were natural leaders at the back. Ian joined from Sheffield Wednesday for 450,000, a record amount of money for Stoke to pay out for a player at the time. Ian, in a way was a natural replacement for Steve Bould as it turned out. Ian could probably be seen as a more technical player than Overson, and alot more skillful, but unfortunatly injuries also ended his Stoke City carear as it had done to Vince Overson the year before. Ian Cranson will always be remembered as one of the all time greats at Stoke and the club paid Cranny back by giving him a Testimonial against Everton, one of the last ever games to be played at the Vic where a good crowd turned out to see Stoke lose 2-0 against the Premiership team. Ian is now Youth Team coach at the Britannia Stadium, but will always be remembed for being such a man mountain at the back for Stoke City over the years, at the end of the day he could of been fully capable of playing in the Premiership. We still miss you out on the pitch Ian!!

 

 

STEVE BOULD:

Another hero and a local one at that.. He made 211 appearances for Stoke after coming through the Youth Ranks before finally joining Arsenal in 1988 where he went on to become an England International and win a vast range of Domestic and European Honours. Partnered Tony Adams for many years at Arsenal and was a big part in the Famous Arsenal back four. He started his Stoke Carear off at right back until some one noticed what he had to offer as a centre half and he was duly switched there. After a brief loan spell in the lower divisions Steve returned to Stoke and imediatly developed in to a world class player. Everton were intrested in him at the time but eventually Steve was to move on to North London where he joined up with the Gunners. We have failed in several attempts to re sign Steve in the past, possibly even as player manager. At the start of last season Steve Joined Sunderland where it now looks he will finish his long footballing carear.

 

 

LEE DIXON:

Lee Dixon was signed by Stoke City from Bury and quickly went on to establsih himself as a quality right back along with other players such as Steve Bould (above) Eventually this concluded in Lee joining up at Arsenal where he, like Steve Bould went on to win major Domestic and European honours and become a full England International. Just a qucik mention on something I found rather strange, If anyone ever had the game Striker on the Super Nintendo it said that Lee Dixon was a black man??!! don't ask?! .......Lee was solid on his day and at Arsenal he was part of the legendary defence that comprised of Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams and Bould.. A great player who is still at Arsenal and played a major Role in them securing their recent League and Cup double .

 

 

JOHN "UNSUNG HERO" BUTLER:

Okay, just to clear up.. The unsung hero part is a bit of a private joke that anyone who has seen the 1993 "We are the Champions" Video will all know about... John Butler was signed from Wigan Athletic for 100,000 and turned out to be a natural replacement for Lee Dixon..  As it happens I will alsways remember John Butler as he scored in the first ever Stoke match I went at the Victoria Ground.  He played a major role in our 1992 Autoglass wembley win and us lifting the second divison championship the following season.. John just seemed to get better with age but overall I think that his age was what stopped him going on to greater things.. In 1994 he was going on 33 and still doing well in the Stoke City first team but at the end of the season he was given a free transfer and eventually returned to his former club Wigan Athletic. John will probably be remembered for two things at Stoke.. His brialliant solo run down the right wing at Vale Park that set up Mark Stein for his opening goal during our 2 0 win there in 1992/ 1993 Championship season.. and also "The Oatcake" Fanzines constant piss take out of his hair style.. still, no one's perfect, are they.. A Great player!.

 

 

PETER BEAGRIE

One of the main problems at Stoke in recent seasons as being that we have not had any quality wingers within the team, However this was not the case in years gone by... Peter Beagrie was a very rare bread indeed.. A left winger.. For me left wingers are like gold dust in football, when you find a decent one you know you have found a gem. Just look at the situation the current England team are in at the moment with out any natural left sided midfield players...  Peter Beagrie, with his trademark somersault goal celebrations will always be remembered for his time at Stoke, most notably a goal against Bournmouth when he picked the ball up in his own penalty area, ran the length of the pitch and scored in front of the Boothen End, one of the gretest ever goals the Victoria Ground ever saw..

 

 

 

MARK CHAMBERLAIN

Mark was signed from local rivals Port Valle and went on to play for England. I am too young to really remember seeing Mark play, but from what I have seen on video footage he was explosive in his day.. An all out attacking right winger Mark had blistering pace, skill, touch and shot. He , like Peter Beagrie could pull teams appart single handedly.. The right wing at Stoke is a treasured one, due to the history of Sir Stanley Matthews, but Mark Chamberlain was more thank good enough to pull on a Stoke number 7 shirt, go out on the pitch with pride and cause total havoc to the opposition. As I said before, it has been wingers like Mark that Stoke have lacked over the last few years.

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