Club: Stoke City FC | Opening: 1878 | Closing: 1997 | Final capacity: 22,500 seats
Victoria Ground, often nicknamed The Vic, was for 119 years the home ground of Stoke City FC until the club moved to the Britannia Stadium in 1997.
In its early days Stoke City had played at the Victoria Cricket Ground and Sweeting’s Field before it moved to the Victoria Ground in 1878. As the ground was originally an athletics venue it had an oval shape and a running track circling the pitch.
The first match at the stadium, on the 28th of Match 1878, was played between Stoke and Talke Rangers (0-1). The Victoria Ground took its name from the nearby Victoria Hotel.
In the following decades very few changes were made to the ground. Whereas in the rest of the country modern concrete stadiums were constructed, Victoria Ground remained nothing more than three uncovered banks and a small wooden stand.
By the end of the First World War the stadium had finally undergone further developments with the construction of two extra stands. Developments continued in the following 20 years and by the 1930s the stadium had lost its oval shape and the Boothen End was fully terraced.
In 1935 a new main stand, the Butler Street Stand, was built. The new stand could seats about 5,000 fans and would be the showcase stand for the following three decades.
The record attendance of the ground was set in a league match against Arsenal in 1937. A total of 51,380 people visited the match that day.
In 1963 a new main stand was built along Boothen Road. At the same time the club celebrated its centenary with a match against the legendary Real Madrid side.
During a storm in January 1976 the roof of the Butler Street Stand was blown off. The subsequent repair works severely depleted the club’s financials and indirectly led to the club’s relegation in the following year.
However, Stoke bounced back a few years later and saw Victoria Ground further improved with the construction of a new two-tier stand at the Stoke End. At the same time two out of four floodlights were replaced, giving the ground a unique look with two different sets of floodlights.
Further smaller renovations were made in the 1980s, mainly to improve corporate facilities. In 1994 Stoke announced the construction of a new all-seater stand, which was to hold 9,000 supporters, however plans were never realised as the club opted for the construction of a new stadium instead. A complete renovation of Victoria Ground would have been too expensive.
In its final years Victoria Ground had a capacity of 22,500 seats. The last official match at the ground was played on the 4th of May 1997. The league match between Stoke and West Brom ended in a 2-1 Stoke win.
After that match several low-key matches were still played at the ground, and the actual last match was a pre-season friendly against Coventry City. However only 4,000 people attended that match, the rest having already said goodbye during the West Brom match.
After Stoke moved into the Britannia Stadium the Victoria Ground got demolished. Up to today however no redevelopments have taken place and the site remains empty.