The Potters have today been drawn to make the trip to the North East to face League One side Hartlepool United at Victoria Park. Hartlepool, who are celebrating their centenary year currently sit twelfth in the League One table after a mixed start to the season. They have defeated Brighton and Hove Albion and Fleetwood Town to progress to this stage in the competition.
The club have played at their Victoria Park home throughout the whole of their history. The ground is small and compact, holding just 7,961 spectators. Usually, around 900 tickets are offered to away supporters but this figure will have to be increased to around 1,100 as there is a rule that clubs must offer at least fifteen percent of their capacity to away fans for cup matches.
An aerial view of the lopsided Victoria Park
Hartlepool have found fame recently as the passion of legendary Gillette Soccer Saturday and soon to be Countdown presenter Jeff Stelling. The club were also responsible for launching the managerial career of Brian Clough, appointing him as manager in 1965.
Jeff Stelling gets excited on Soccer Saturday, unfortunately without his singing, dancing James Brown doll
Stoke and Hartlepool last met way back in April 1993 at League one level, Hartlepool leaving the Victoria Ground with a narrow 1-0 away win after Stoke had won 2-1 at Victoria Park earlier that season.
The draw is far from ideal for Stoke and seems a potential banana skin, particularly with our poor record against lower league teams in cup competitions in recent years. However, the tide seems to have turned this season with Stoke seeing off Cheltenham, Reading and Rotherham in the Carling Cup so this is a tie that I would still expect us to win.
The tie will be played on either the 3rd or 4th of January 2009.
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