Rule Bet-annia

Britannia Stadium Seating

Well, it’s official…the Britannia reigns no more.

Today heralds the first day that Stoke’s home shall be known as the bet365 Stadium.

There were many tears shed when Stoke left the old Victoria Ground for a shiny new stadium, but the Brit ended up playing host to a memorable spell in Stoke’s history.

The love affair with the Brit began with a drab 1-1 draw in the League Cup with Rochdale on 27 August 1997 and ended a couple of weeks ago when thousands flooded the pitch at Andy Wilkinson’s testimonial.

What does a name change mean though? Very little, in truth. Most supporters will continue to refer to it as the Brit and will continue to sit in the same seat. Aside from a fresh lick of paint and a new playing pitch, very little will change over the summer.

To wave farewell to the Britannia Stadium we now take a look back at five memorable matches played at the old girl.

4 May 2003

Stoke City 1-0 Reading

A season that had seen three different managers in the hotseat- and George Burley turn us down- climaxed with a final day relegation battle. Tony Pulis had come in and solidified Stoke, with an unbeaten five match home run going into the match against Reading. Avoiding defeat would have been enough to stay in the second tier, but The Potters went one better. Lewis Neal’s cross was superbly headed home by loanee Ade Akinbiyi in front of the Boothen End to keep Stoke in the division. Had they fallen through the trapdoor you dread to think what could have happened.

4 May 2008

Stoke City 0-0 Leicester City

What a day 4 May has been. Five years after that last day escape Stoke hosted Leicester City, knowing that a point would be enough to take them to the Premier League for the first time since its formation in 1992. With Leicester fighting against relegation on the final day of the season it was a cagey affair and as a contest, largely forgettable. A 0-0 draw was enough to send Stoke up though, with thousands of supporters flooding the pitch at full time. Leicester, for the record, went down that day. Eight years later, they’re not doing too badly…

23 August 2008

Stoke City 3-2 Aston Villa

The first Premier League match at the Brit was a corker. At the time, Aston Villa were one of the big sides in the division and were to knock on the door of Champions League qualification in this particular season. It was a day set up for Stoke glory though. Liam Lawrence’s penalty opened the scoring before future Stoke player John Carew equalised. An incredible piece of magic from Ricardo Fuller put Stoke back in the lead 10 minutes from time, but the man he had skinned immediately equalised for Villa- Martin Laursen’s celebrations more of relief rather than joy. In a season that would be well remembered for Rory Delap’s long throw, the Irish international was gifted an opportunity to launch one into the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Mamady Sidibe climbed highest and the ball flicked the back of his head before nestling into the back of the net. Pandemonium.

13 March 2011

Stoke City 2-1 West Ham United

A fairly routine FA Cup run saw Stoke come head to head against West Ham, just 90 minutes away from Wembley. That man Delap was the architect of Stoke’s opener- his throw plundered home by Robert Huth. The visitor’s equaliser was controversial, with Frederic Piquionne handling before prodding home. A cheap penalty was missed by Matthew Etherington, but Stoke weren’t left to regret it. Danny Higginbotham fancied his chances with a free kick and hit the ball too hard for Rob Green to stop in the West Ham goal. Higginbotham’s winner set up a Wembley date with Bolton, which Stoke famously won 5-0.

5 December 2015

Stoke City 2-0 Manchester City

Arguably Stoke’s finest performance at the Brit came last December against Manchester City. Stoke hold a healthy record against Man City and added another scalp with a pulsating display. Marko Arnautovic put in a majestic display, scoring a brace in the first quarter of an hour. His link up play with Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay would have been enough to beat the very best in the world that day- let’s face it, Man City are right up there with the very best. The only shame about the afternoon was that the final result wasn’t more emphatic. It could have been 6-0 come full-time. A couple of weeks later Stoke beat Manchester United by the same scoreline thanks to another excellent team display.

So, farewell Britannia…Rule Bet-annia!

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