Inside a few contentious months near the birth of properly organised football, Stoke City Football Club were responsible for one major rule change that then led to another – thanks in large to cheeky opponents from Notts County and Aston Villa. It was 1891 and Stoke – they weren’t Stoke City until the Six Towns were granted city status in 1925 – were fighting their way back into the Football League through re-election. They cantered to the Football Alliance title and were mixing it against the very best in the FA Cup. They beat the brilliant reigning League champions Preston North End 3-0 in the first round at the Victoria Ground, then battered Villa by the same scoreline. Then came Notts County, who were flying high in the League, and Stoke were piling on the pressure in search of an equaliser in front of a bumper crowd… and thought they had scored before defender Jack Hendry punched away a goal-bound shot. Read More
Stoke were given a close-range free-kick but Notts stacked 11 men on their own line and that was too big a wall to get around. Referee John Lewis couldn’t do anything else on the day but he thought this was mightily unfair so campaigned to introduce the penalty kick when he became a football legislator. And indeed, the penalty was a new rule by October 24 that year when Stoke had been re-elected into the League and welcomed Villa back to the Vic. This day 128 years ago. Villa raced into a 3-0 lead but produced a brilliant second-half comeback with goals from Hughie Clifford and Joe Schofield, the England international and Hanley headteacher.
Stoke line up for a team photo in the early 1890s.
There were just seconds remaining as Stoke cranked up their search for a third when, in a case of déjà vu, a goal-bound shot was handled away. This time, a penalty was awarded… but the story goes that a Villa player simply picked up the ball and booted it out of the ground towards Stoke town. The referee kept looking at his watch and blew up before it could be returned, telling players “there was not time for it to be taken.” Cheats! Read More
The Sentinel reported: “We are informed on reliable authority that Stoke have laid an objection to the result of their match with Aston Villa on Saturday.” They did and the football rules were duly changed to introduce injury or added time – but initially only in that exact scenario where a penalty was to be taken.
What’s happening at Stoke City?
Keep up to date with the latest Stoke City news, features and exclusives from Stoke-on-Trent Live via our free WhatsApp service. Text NEWS to 07557203667 and then add the number to your phone contacts book as Stoke City Live to receive daily updates and breaking news from our Potters reporter Pete Smith. Your phone number won’t be shared with any other members of the group. Click here for more information on the service.
For all your latest Stoke City news, opinion, analysis and transfer gossip, click here