“Yeah Andy, it’s easy enough to pull out a top notch football blog with your Benburbs and Butthole Lanes, but can you do it on a cold day at Stoke?” Ever the man that’s up for a challenge, I decided to find out.
The first thing I should probably mention is the name. I hate it, but the ground has been known as either this or the Britannia since it opened in 1997. It’s a real pity, as is the slightly menacing “no trespassing” sign dotted on a footpath nearby. It’s easy enough to ignore – like any other Premier League ground it’s pretty easy to wander around.
Thankfully there aren’t too many negatives here. Yes, there’s a dreadful Wall Of Fame (too popular a trend in modern stadia), yes it looks almost identical to Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Southampton, but that’s about it.
The positives are some snazzy bits of artwork – a tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews as well as a lovely bust of John Ritchie. There aren’t enough busts outside of football grounds – the campaign starts here. Much better than another bloody statue.
Also, you can see into the ground from some of the hills that sit above it – definite bonus points there, and that’s about it for Stoke City’s home. Is it a ground you could live your life without visiting? Absolutely. But its main stand is pretty impressive from the outside, and it’s a big old stadium to wander around, so I’d definitely say it’s worth a trip.
My book is still available from all good Amazons.