Memories of Stoke City
Stoke City 1-0 Charlton, 4th April, 1994
There was a faint chance that we may of sneaked into the play-offs this season, and coming off the back of a rousing 4-3 victory over Southend two days earlier (a certain Alan Pardew scoring twice to celebrate the opening of the East Stand), my brother and I made a late decision to make the trip to the Potteries on Easter Monday for a first time visit to the Victoria Ground.
It was a bright, sunny morning when we left for the station and we were suitably dressed, my brother pushing his luck perhaps in a t-shirt but we were looking forward to the afternoon kick-off. About 600 Addicks made the journey, a lot of them on the train out of Euston. However as we travelled north the weather took a turn for the worse and snow started to fall as we hit the Midlands.
By the time we got off the train, the snow was falling heavily and it was bloody freezing. We all huddled together in a boozer by the station and I remember actually wanting a hot drink and not a beer. Rumours gathered pace amongst Charlton fans that the game would be postponed, in fact there were two pitch inspections and the pitch was only passed fit 40 minutes before kick-off.
The real abiding memory of the game was how extraordinarily cold it was. The result being almost secondary to the final whistle. We stood at what was the Stoke End, in front of seats, and the weather was atrocious.
Both Stoke and us had slim hopes of the play-off and on the evidence of that game, Stoke looked the more likely as they beat us comfortably 1-0. Mark Walters, who had only recently signed for City, ripped Sweaty Balmer to bits out on the left wing (he never was a right back was he?) and another Stoke new signing Micky Adams dominated our midfield. The Icelandic Toddy Orlygsson getting Stoke's winning goal in the 31st minute and I don't believe we even came close to getting an equaliser.
It was so cold that the final whistle couldn't come quick enough and it was finally a relief to walk to the station and get on the train to warm up.
The Victoria Ground was a classic large atmospheric, if decaying and often scary football ground with plenty of memories. Stoke left it in 1997 and moved to the Brittania Stadium, which was built on an old colliery. The stadium is particularly impressive in the evenings from the outside and I have driven by a few times as I used to have relatives in the area. Addicks fans tomorrow will be situated in the Big AM South Stand behind the goal. The Victoria Ground is sadly now just a derelict site.Stoke:
Prudhoe, Butler, Sandford, Cranson, Overson, Orlygsson (Glynn), Foley, Carruthers, Biggins, (Regis), Adams, Walters.
Sub not used: StraneyCharlton:
Salmon, Balmer, Minto, Pardew, Chapple, McLeary, Garland (Grant), Bennett, Nelson, Gorman, Sturgess (Walsh).
Sub not used: Vaughan
Anyone else there?