After 148 years of Stoke City being in existance, we have never really won very much, a League Cup in 1972 and a couple of football League trophies in 1992 and 2000 but although having never been in an FA Cup Final, we were the only club to have a 100% winning record at BOTH Wembley AND the Millennium Stadium. We also have a poor history against non league opposition in the tournament so every season, the FA Cup doesn’t fill me with too much hope. It seemed it may go the same way again when we only managed a draw at home to Cardiff in the 3rd round but two goals in extra time from John Walters in the replay at Cardiff City Stadium set up a tough away fixture at Premier League Wolves. With my old mucker from School Ian, being a Wolves fan, we sat amongst the Yam Yams to watch Robert Huth clinch the win. A 5th round home draw to League 1 high flyers Brighton saw a professional 3-0 victory for Stoke setting up a Quarter Final at home to West Ham. Unfortunately Stoke Ladies were away at Northampton Town with an identical kick off time for this game and I felt that it was my duty as a member of staff to attend the Ladies game. The Ladies won 1-0 but due to some hefty injury time were still playing when a shout came out from the dug out “We’re going to Wembley”. As a non season ticket holder, not living in Stoke, it was always going to be difficult to get a Wembley ticket but luckily I managed to get hold of two Club Wembley tickets and so we went to that amazing game which just happened to be my birthday - 17th April - and what a present Stoke gave me! As with my previous visit to Wembley, we called into one of my favourite pubs, the Royal Standard of England. We arrived at one minute to midday expecting to be the first people in this ‘out of the way’ country inn, only to find three blokes sitting outside wearing Stoke shirts! We had lunch and then made our way to our hotel before popping on the train to Wembley Park Station. My first visit to the ‘new’ Wembley was no disappointment as we witnessed lots of Bolton fans leaving the stadium after half an hour with Stoke already 3-0 up. Goals from Etherington 11', Huth 17', Jones 30', Walters 68', 81' saw stoke run out 5-0 winners, the biggest post war semi final victory. Sadly with only a 22,000 allocation for the final it was impossible for me to get a ticket so I wasn’t there to witness the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City although I now have a contact at Wembley Stadium itself that that won’t happen again!
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Stoke City Football Club FA Cup 2011