Firstly, though, yak. Let’s get that out of the way. You’ll be aware that I much prefer to call a stadium by its name. But seeing as Stoke’s ground has only been known by its sponsor’s name since opening in 1997, it was either this or The Britannia.
So, as a stadium, it’s marks off for a naff name. Sorry, Stokies. But how is it for walking around? As a rule, great. I wasn’t keen on a “no trespassing” sign on one of the paths around the ground, but it would be pretty hard (and mean) for them to enforce. But it certainly results in a point being taken off for being mean.
There’s also points off for a Wall Of Fame, tucked away pointlessly and despite me owning my own brick at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, it’s a trend I’m really starting to hate. But they win points for some artwork dotted around the ground, a tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews plus this snazzy bust.
And it’s certainly an impressive structure, albeit so incredibly similar to look at as Southampton, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. So it’s certainly not a must-see for being unique. But I really liked their main stand, and I loved being able to look into the ground from a higher vantage point. So that’s a huge positive.
Despite toploading this blog with negatives, this is still a big stadium and a Premier League ground. If you live your life without visiting, you won’t regret it on your deathbed. But it’s certainly one of the more pleasant days I’ve had reporting on this blog.
My book is still available to buy from all good Amazons.