Hanley born left winger Joe Schofield joined hometown Football League club Stoke in September 1891 from local junior football, making a goalscoring debut at the Victoria Ground in a 3-0 win over Burnley on 10th October, and he scored again in his next two matches, against Derby County and Aston Villa. He finished the season as the club’s top-scorer with 13 goals in 21 appearances. Such was his form that he was called into the England team and won his first England cap in a 2-0 win over Wales at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in March 1892.
Possessing of a fine left foot, Schofield showed “individuality and flair” on the pitch. He was an entertaining and classy player and could confuse opponents by swaying from side to side before finding the net with a long range shot. He was again Stoke’s top scorer in 1892-93 with 13 goals in 30 appearances, including a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on 25th February 1893 and again finished top scorer in 1893-94 with 16 goals in 30 games, and won his second England cap as England thrashed Wales 6-0 at The Victoria Ground, Stoke in March 1893. He also played for The Football League against The Scottish League in Glasgow the following month.
The Potters struggled in the 1894-95 season, and were forced to play against Second Division high-flyers Newton Heath in a test match to retain their First Division status. Stoke won the match 3-0, with Schofield getting two of the goals; over the course of the campaign he was the club’s joint top scorer (with William Dickson), with 13 goals in 31 games. He also won his third and final England cap in a 9-0 rout of Ireland at The County Ground, Derby, in March 1895.
Schofield scored another hat-trick for Stoke in a 6-1 home win over Small Heath on 19 October 1895, and he remained a regular goalscorer for Stoke, making a further appearance for The Football League in an 8-1 thrashing of The Irish League in November 1897. However in 1899 he was forced to retire at the age of 28 due to injury and ill health, having made 227 appearances for Stoke, scoring 93 goals.
He returned to Stoke as manager during World War One, and led the team between 1915-16 and 1918-19. The club competed in the Lancashire Section of the War League, and Stoke actually won the Primary Competition in 1917-18, beating teams such as Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool. However the competition was not considered to be competitive, and the games and achievements are not recognised by the Football League. Schofield did not take charge at Stoke for the return of Football League action in 1919-20, having been replaced by Arthur Shallcross.
Schofield remained in the Potteries after leaving The Victoria Ground, and was appointed as the secretary-manager of Port Vale in March 1920, taking over from Tom Holford. Schofield was a ‘man of well-balanced judgement’, ‘the player’s friend, confidant and counsellor’ with a knack of discovering and developing promising players. He remained as Vale’s manager for 9 seasons until his death at the end of September 1929 after an illness.