After 109 years of trying Stoke City finally won their first major trophy in March 1972 beating Chelsea 2–1 in the League Cup final at Wembley. They also reached the semi final of the FA Cup for the second season running and again lost out to Arsenal. Their league campaign obviously took a hit with all the cup matches being played, Stoke finished in 17th position with 35 points. In total Stoke played 71 matches during a very busy season.
The Stoke fans were confident of seeing more good exciting attacking football again as the 1971–72 season commenced but overall league performances were bitterly disappointing, however in the cup competitions Stoke did themselves proud. With the cup matches obviously taking priority Stoke had a back-log of fixtures to play (six games in 17 days) and they failed to win any of them as they finished in 17th position with 35 points.
Not only was this to be a memorable cup tie for Stoke, it is also once of the best encounters in the history of the League Cup competition. In the 1st leg Stoke's hopes of reaching the final seemed to have disappeared when they lost 2–1 to home. However at West Ham, Ritchie levelled the aggregated score with 20 minutes left, and with just three of those reaming West Ham were awarded a penalty, a decision which angered Gordon Banks immensely. The England 'keeper was so psyched up that he dived and saved Geoff Hurst's spot kick superbly, Banks says that it was his most significant save of his career. And so to a third match, a replay at Hillsborough, was a tense 0–0 draw. The fourth meeting was staged at Old Trafford and another bumper crowd turned out to see the two sides do battle in a match that seemed to have everything. Bobby Ferguson, the "Hammers" goalkeeper was accidentally kicked on the head by Terry Conroy and Bobby Moore went in goals. He saved a Mike Bernard penalty but was beaten on the rebound. Ferguson returned and the game ebbed and flowed, and either side could have won. In the end it was Stoke with Conroy scoring the winning goal to send City through to their first major final.
The final took place on 4 March 1972 at Wembley against Chelsea in front of a crowd 97,852. Stoke showed no big match nerves at took an early lead through Terry Conroy, this prompted a response by Chelsea and just before the interval a rare mistake from Alan Bloor allowed Peter Osgood to level the scores. Stoke were not to be denied and on 73 minutes the veteran George Eastham scored the winning goal to earn Stoke their first major trophy.