When Stoke City took down their old scoreboard after a brilliant 2-1 win over Arsenal in 2008 – what a way to bow out, by the way – did you ever stop to wonder where it went?
The pixelated screen had been in use in good times and bad over the preceding 11 years since the club had upped sticks from the Victoria Ground – and was to be replaced by a 9×5 metres LED giant that would in turn make way when a corner was filled in three years ago.
There had been some brilliant results on that board, not least Stoke City 0 Leicester City 0 in May 2008.
And there had been scorelines which hadn’t even happened…
But where did it go?
Well, it was sold to Farnborough for £5,000 after Dave Kemp was contacted by the non-leaguers’ then-owner Simon Hollis. It was on show for the next few seasons in the Southern League Division One Central, with a surround sponsored by a local drive-thru McDonald’s.
And it is not the only old feature from Stoke HQs past and present to extend its life beyond the Potters. After all, the club made £63,000 with an auction at the Victoria Ground that helped to fund the building project of the new stadium 20 years ago.
Seats from the Vic’s Boothen Stand ended up at places including Fulham’s Craven Cottage, Whitchurch Alport … and Stonefield Barbers in Stone.
Farmer paid 7p for 2,896 seats
Fans tried to get their hands on few too… although when David Beresford went to buy six he ended up splashing out 7p for 2,896 after auctioneers told him the only ones left were for sale as a job lot. He needed to hire a 17-ton truck and organised a farmyard sale to sell them individually, raising £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
“I only wanted to get about six seats, so I bought a catalogue for the auction and when I phoned up I was told there’d been no bids on the seats,” he told the Sentinel 10 years later.
“This was at five minutes to five when the auction was about to close, so I offered seven pence. Because there’d been no other bids they had to take it, though the catch was they all had to be moved by Friday and it was already Wednesday. My wife came down and helped bag up the seats so we knew exactly where they’d been taken from and they were stacked like that, so when people came to find their seat they could get them more easily. People were delighted to pay £10 for their seat.”
Victoria Ground floodlights went to Port Vale
Port Vale became the new owners of half the floodlights – 24 lights which were incorporated into their existing pylons.
Turnstiles ended up in all manner of places. Supporter Andy Bailey had one in his Kidsgrove garden. Roy Ridge had one in his old coal shed in Hanley, Phil Eccleston had one inside his terrace in Cobridge and cousins Ben and Michael Dyer put one in the bar in the Red House in Longton.
The subs’ bench stayed in Stoke
Mark Powell bought the sub’s bench for £10 to put in front of his house in Fletcher Road, Stoke. We don’t know what happened to Sammy Chung’s dug-out.
A corner flag from the final season at the Vic now sits in the office of award-winning photographer Carl Recine.
The massive old Stoke shield went to the Victoria Hotel. Signs, memorabilia and parts of the old pitch – sold off for £12.50 a square yard but you had to dig it out yourself – are still being manicured as lawns across the land, except the centre-spot, which was dug up and re-laid in Trentham Lakes.
And the scoreboard isn’t the only thing to have already been recycled at the bet365 Stadium.
Seats which were replaced in last summer’s re-brand were donated to clubs including Newcastle and Hartshill Cricket Club and Abbey Hulton United FC.
And walkers in Froghall Wharf in the Moorlands get a surprise when they see the old foldable tunnel. It used to lead into the bear pit … and now it leads into a shed.