Stoke City - Britannia Stadium
Step aside boring Championship football, here come another Premiership team to face the mighty. Not quite the draw 99% of us were hoping for after our demolition of Wigan but this game is winnable. We couldn't have hoped for Stow ke to have a better game to follow our visit to the Britannia, as Man Ure visit four days after us. Pullis must surely rest / protect some players for the visit of little old Blackpool. Unfortunately Stoke new recruit Peter Reid was present last Wednesday and he can't have failed to note that great performance. The road to Wembley isn't easy but this current team of players are setting new standards, fast attacking football wins prizes and the prize on offer in this one off is a place in the last 16.
Altogether now -
'Make Cups and Saucers
You only make cups and saucers'
How to get there
The road to the Britannia is like a well worn path for Pool fans over the last 10 days. Groundhog-esque as we've passed this place on our last two away days.
Take the M55, M6 South. Leave the 6 at J15 and go straight across the roundabout onto the A500 towards Stoke. Continue along the A500 passing over the junction with the A34. Leave the A500 at the next slip road following signs for the A50 towards Derby. Turn right at the next roundabout and then move into the left hand lane and then onto the slip road. You can see the stadium over on your right. Turn right at the top of the slip road and then right at the next roundabout for the stadium.
For the sat navvers amongst us - ST4 4EG.
For the Virgin lovers - The ground is a good 2 mile + trek from the station. My advice get a joey, but if walking deep in Staffordshire bandit territory appeals to you then turn right from the station and head down Station Road. At the lights, turn right along Leek Road (A52), under the railway line and then left down on to the tow path of the Trent & Mersey Canal. Follow the tow path all the way until you are level with the stadium, where two footbridges take you over the canal and then the railway line, straight into the ground near the South Stand away end.
The Britannia Stadium replaced the not so friendly Victoria Ground in the summer of 1997 thus ending a 119 years relationship.
At a cost of £15million pounds the capacity has been slightly reduced since their promotion to the Premiership due to segregation behind the goal.
The land for the Britannia was formerly owned by the National Coal Board and operated as Hem Heath Colliery until its closure in the early 1990's and along with the Trentham Lakes site, the whole area now employs more people than it did when it was the colliery.
Ironically the first competitive game played at the stadium was a Carling Cup game against Rochdale, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The L-shaped Boothen and East Stands cover the north and east sides of the stadium and hold a total number of 6,006 and 8,789 supporters respectively.
The main West stand is a two-tier construction seating over 7,357 fans as well as hosting the media and main hospitality areas.
We'll be sat behind a goal in the South Stand. There is room for 4,996 supporters but as this area has become segregated to accommodate home fans too overall capacity has dropped by almost 900 to 27500. The view from the stand, if you get up high enough, is pretty decent. I expect around the 850 mark to travel.
Where to drink
Like many of today's new grounds there are not too many 'away friendly' pubs within easy reach due to its location. There is a Harvester which is close to the stadium which allows away fans in, there is also a local Power league 5-a-side complex which has a bar in and allows away fans in. About a 5 minute drive from the ground is a retail estate on the left as you leave the motorway and approach the ground (cinema / Quasar / Pizza Hut etc) which has a family pub near the canal, (I can`t remember the name) otherwise ale is on sale within the ground.
Plod + Stewards
Nothing to recall from the stewards following our recent visits to the Britannia. This will be considered a relatively low key affair for the OB.
Fear Factor rating - 5
The Pool are in a rich vein of form. The victories over Newcastle and at Forrest were energy sapping but Holloway is infectious with his enthusiasm. Stoke are a big physical side, their fans love to sing 'that' old TJ song, but let's hope that come the end of Tuesdays game we will be the ones 'stood there laughing'.
Onwards + Upwards.