What It Means: Stoc, old English for settlement. Like Stockton and Stokesley but shorter.
Why It's There: Stoke was a market town on a Roman Road (Stoche in the Domesday Book) until found to be built on clay and coal in the 18th century, and the home of British ceramics ever since. Amalgamated with the other five pottery towns in 1910 (Arnold Bennett couldn't count properly) and became the city of Stoke-on-Trent in 1925.
Why They're There: like Methodism, scouting and Genesis, a product of Charterhouse School, (thanks to John Wesley, Robert Baden-Powell and Peter Gabriel and co.) when some pupils became apprentices at the North Staffs Railway, formed as Stoke Ramblers in 1868. Naturally called themselves City from 1925. A search still goes on for the holy grail, proof they played five years earlier, which would make them the second oldest league club after Notts. County. Original members of the Football League in 1888, finished bottom for the first two seasons, and one of four founders yet to win it.
The Field of Dreams: After three early grounds (including a cemetery....) they merged with the Victoria Cricket Club at the Victoria Ground (1878-1997). The SE corner was literally on-Trent, built over it, although unlike in Nottingham in Stoke it's only about the size of Billingham Beck. One stand lost its roof in a 1976 gale, so Boro had to play them at Port Vale. The Bet365 was opened in 1997 as the Britannia Stadium, after the Staffordshire-based building society sponsors, and cost a little more than the Riverside at £15 million, and when Boro last went there was officially the noisiest ground in the country. On a hill and with open corners it was also the coldest, especially in 2009 when the rest of the country was bathed in sun Boro fans turned up in t-shirts and shorts to find the Potteries' answer to a sea fret and froze. As did the team.
When it all began: Christmas 1902, Boro's first season in Division One.
Local Heroes: Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks, Tony Waddington (17 years as manager), Terry Conroy and George Eastham (scorers in 1972 League Cup final win), Eric Skeels (597 games), Neville Coleman (seven goals in a game against Lincoln in 1957), Dennis Smith, also a national hero when he ended Leeds' 29 game unbeaten run in 1974. And Neil Baldwin, legendary kit-man and subject of BAFTA-winning film Marvellous.
Local Villains: Wolves and West Brom, an ancient internal Staffordshire dispute, great as their record win is 10-3 against the Baggies, but not so as their record cup defeat is 0-8 at Wolves; and of course Port Vale, although they've only been in the same division 23 times. And this week, certainly with his manager, Wilfried Bony, saying it's "crazy" he's not in the team.
High Point: Winning the League Cup in 1972, finishing fourth in 1936 and 1947, missing the title by just two points, reaching the Premier League in 2008.
Low Point: 1890, going out of the League for a season; 1908, going out again, this time for 11 after going bust; 1983-84, finishing bottom of Division One with a record low of 17 points (33 from safety); Losing at home to Blyth Spartans in 1978 FA Cup; losing 5-2 at home to Manchester City on the final day of the new ground's first season in 1998 and both being relegated to the third tier.
Boro Highs: 5-2 (March 1956 and December 1959), 4-2 (January 1948)
Boro Lows: 2-6 (September 1936), 0-4 (September 1925), 1-4 (August 1957)
Hello to: Ernie Coleman (September 1934)
Goodbye to: Rab Macfarlane (December 1902), Tommy Craig (November 1904), Alan Rogerson (November 1960), Jim Stewart (September 1980)
Boro Hero: Brian Clough (December 1959) hat-trick in 5-2 - and the last time Boro scored more than once at the Victoria Ground. George Camsell (September 1936) and Joe Scott (March 1956), the only others to score twice there; Jaime Moreno (February 1998) late winner and only goal of his second spell.
Boro Villain: Freddie Steele (September 1936) hat-trick in 2-6; Tosh McKinlay (March 1998) off for taking a swing at Craig Hignett after the Boro winner; the entire Boro defence (March 2009) - see Typical Boro below.
Boro Bogeyman: (and Typical Boro in waiting) Peter Crouch, unbeaten against Boro in 17 years, scored and won with four different clubs against them.
Typical Boro: 0-1 (March 2009) Stoke had won twice in 15 games, and not scored from their time-honoured Rory Delap long throw tactic since Christmas - so the Boro defence left Ryan Shawcross unmarked to head in.
The Other Typical Boro: 1-0 (April 1963) Stoke were top, had won 10 of their last 12 games and were unbeaten at home since the opening day.
Omen Corner: Boro's record 5-2 win there was this very weekend in 1956.
Unexpected Item in Bagging Area: 1-0 (January 1955), the only time Boro have ever won away on New Year's Day (and there've only been five away draws and no more clean sheets); Andy Peake (December 1993), only goal in 99 appearances.
Nearly Boro: owned by local self-made businessman and lifelong fan Peter Coates, founder of Bet365, who said after losing the pits, the steelworks and most of the pot banks, getting into the Premier League would give the city a lift. Before August's game at the Riverside used post-2009 Boro as a warning about relegation and meltdown. Like Boro one of just three English-owned Premier League clubs. Has a nearby Newcastle (under-Lyme) that considers itself superior.
Nowhere Near Boro: they beat Chelsea at Wembley to win the League Cup.
Unique Cultural Contribution: How can one town produce both Slash and Lemmy? And the Oatcake, a cross between a crepe and a chapatti, filled or topped with anything from egg, jam, curry - or even minced-up parmo?
Football Cultural contribution: the original home of the Football League, from 1888 until 1902 (because it's secretary lived there) when it moved to Preston (because his successor lived there).
Football First: the first club not to be re-elected, in 1890, and replaced by Sunderland.
Your Boys Took One Hell of a Beating: Josiah Wedgwood, Josiah Spode, Thomas Minton, Toby Jones, Arnold Bennett, Nick Hancock, Neil Morrisey, Phil The Power Taylor, a man without whom we may be watching the Reichsliga, Reg Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire; proof of the Premier League's pan-Atlantic pull, Sugar Ray Leonard, who turned up there in a City shirt in 2008 (although they were playing Chelsea) and Busta Rhymes, who wore a retro one on TV in LA. And Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic.