2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Sunday, February 28, 2010


We have all grown to like Fabio Capello for the no nonsense  COMMOMSENSE approach which he has brought to the management of our national football team. He clearly knows what is right and what is wrong, and he doesn't suffer highly paid fools gladly.

His uncomplicated approach has brought with it success.

I warmed to the man further yesterday, for what seems to me to be a display of common humanity and understanding. His contribution to preserving Ryan Shawcross' peace of mind and continuing future in the game cannot be underestimated in my opinion.

Within an hour of the game finishing he announced - later than expected,having taken time to consider the position carefully with his aides - his England squad, including Ryan Shawcross.

There is no doubt in my mind that he recognised genuine remorse,and, unlike the excitable idiots, Wenger included,he accepts that football is a full blooded  mans (or for that matter women's) game where sometimes major injuries will occur.

I have watched Ryan Shortcross's  attempt to win the ball from Aaron Ramsey several times. I believe it to be genuine and honest, as I did at the ground.

I have heard the description of the tangle from Arsenal's manager,and to be honest I did not,and still do not accept the implied/inferred malicious intent.Early LAZY journalistic comment simply mirrored his comments.

We should be so relieved for young Ryan, because I believe that Fabio's simple announcement, timed as it was, influenced and brought forward more considered, balanced comment from, for example, the 'MOTD' heavyweights, and some if not all the online MSM.

Messrs Shearer Hansen and Lineker, to their great credit, were in general agreement that the challenge was fair,coming as it did from the side, and with replays showing that Ramsey moved the ball too quickly for our centreback, resulting in a clumsy rather than nasty challenge from the Stoke man.They were satisfied there was no malicious intent.

Shawcross did not argue with anyone,he was simply too upset.Standing tall but tearful Shawcross trudged off.

Like the rest of us he clearly will wish Ramsey well, as will Capello, in my view a man of courage, principle and stature.

Fabio Capello has my full respect.

Saturday, February 27, 2010



Arsenal paid Stoke the compliment of fielding the strongest team that they had available,missing key players Arshavin and Gallas. Stoke included Abdy Faye and Danny Pugh,with Lawrence and Diao giving way.

Stoke imposed themselves on the proceedings from the start,taking a deserved lead in the 8th minute.Delap's throw from the right was headed on by Ryan Shawcross for Danny Pugh to head in at the far post.Stoke bossed a good proportion of the half,but could not add to their score.Arsenal moved the ball around sweetly but did not really penetrate stoke's determined defence,until the 32nd minute when Fabregas,given a little to much space and time out on the right,crossed a fine ball for Bendtner to head back across Sorensen for the equaliser.

Despite much cut and thrust we reached half time all square.

Arsenal were swiftly into their stride after the break,playing their slick brand of flowing fluid passing football at pace.One or two Stoke players were beginning to look decidedly leggy as they had to work hard to cope.

Cope they did.The match turned on a most unfortunate event in the 65th minute just inside the Arsenal half in front of the Seddon stand.Ryan Shawcross challenged with Aaron Ramsey.The midfielder suffered a serious injury and after lengthy treatment he was stretchered away directly to an ambulance.To me it did not seem like an overly physical challenge,nor did it seem in any way malicious.Shawcross was sent off,it would seem,more for the severity of the injury than for the tackle itself.Shawcross was distraught,even before the red card was shown.His previous record speaks for itself....he is not a dirty player.

Stoke's brave 10 men held out, somewhat fortuitously at times,until the first minute of added on time. From a Bendtner flick there was contact between the ball and Danny Pugh's hand adjudged by Ref Walton to be deliberate.Thomas Sorensen guessed correctly,dived to his left,but failed to keep Fabregas' well placed effort out of his net.

Arsenal wrapped things up 2 minutes later when  Sorensen saved a sharp low shot but could not hold the ball,Fabregas , in quickest, squared for a Vermaelan tap in.

But the game will probably be remembered for the serious injury to Ramsey,and Shawcross's disconsolate trudge from the field of play.

Thursday, February 25, 2010



Understandably there were some empty spaces at The Britannia stadium tonight, but the vocal backing was as loud as ever from the 21,000. Tony Pulis had to make changes to his first choice  lineup  again, in particular Whitehead appearing at right back  and Huth centre back for the suspended Wilkinson and Faye respectively.

Man City set off at a brisk pace, as if to banish from their minds the way they had been overpowered by 10 man Stoke at the end of last week’s Premiership game. Certainly they looked pretty threatening as Stoke’s enforced changed formation took a while to gel.

During this early period Thomas Sorensen earned his keep with fine saves.He was faced with Bellamy, one on one as the striker was played in by Adebayor.He spread himself to deny the less than sharp Welshman.

Stoke gradually gained control of the game pushing the visitors back, mounting a period of sustained pressure, but without delivering on the chances created.

Both Fuller and Sidibe found themselves walking a tightrope as they were booked early by referee Bennett.

Kicking toward the Boothen End in the second half Stoke began as they had finished the first,denying Man city the time and space to settle, pushing them back into their own half. Just ten minutes in Tony Pulis began to make changes with a view to winning the match without extra time. Tuncay came on for Salif Diao.Similarly Mancini replaced Ireland with Wright-Philips.

Shortly after Bellamy had a shot deflected away to safety, and Barry, stealing in behind the Stoke defence unmarked as he had done the previous week, from close range headed a searching Wright-Philips cross from the right over the bar when it seemed it was easier to score.

Danny Pugh came on for the largely ineffectual Liam Lawrence, and immediately had a shot headed away by Lescott. With less than 20 minutes to go Pulis substituted Kitson for Sidibe. A masterstroke this as the ginger one showed all the quality and composure that was the norm in his Reading days. Tuncay received the ball from Kitson on right edge of the visitors penalty box .Tuncay’s clever little return ball to the striker, saw him finish with consummate ease shooting left footed low along the ground into the right corner of Given’s net.

Some time on the pitch against Portsmouth, and now a more significant contribution tonight,dare we hope that Kitson’s rehabilitation as a Potter is complete? It was good to see how pleased his teammates were for him. A class finish from a very good player.

Wild celebration quickly turned to relative quiet as within a minute or so Manchester were back on terms. Adebayor cushioned  the ball to Bellamy.His low drive arrowed into the Stoke net evading Sorensen’s dive.

The real turning point followed when Adebayor lashed out, flooring Shawcross in the process, and was shown the red card. Against the 10 men Stoke had two chances ,one each from Shawcross and Fuller going narrowly wide.

So extra time it was to be. Five minutes into the first period Stoke won a throw in on the right. Rory Delap took the inevitable long throw, Given decided to come for the ball with no chance of getting it (or successfully repeating last week’s amateur theatrics),Captain Shawcross  headed  into the unguarded net.

Whelan, having a fine game, won the ball near the half way line, and made off for the Manchester goal. He squared the ball to Tuncay on the right. The Turk beat one then two men in the box, before netting off Lescott on the goal line. All over…the visitors looked dispirited….their fans began to drift off home.

A fine and well deserved victory in the end. Bring on Chelsea …Potters in the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup for the first time in how many years?

Oops, forgot we just have Arsenal on Saturday. Amazingly, but a sign of how far we have come, the Daily Mail was forecasting a Stoke win for this one…… hopefully the players will have enough left in the tank to deliver….


Sunday, February 21, 2010



Went out last night fearing the worst.Stoke a goal down,and not looking particularly likely to stage any sort of comeback.

After two glasses of bubbles travelled to Chester for a friend's birthday celebration not knowing the result.Quick conversation with the young wine waiter,turned out to be particularly attentive,and voila between pourings he came up with the marvellous final result.Icing on the cake of a brilliant night out!!!

Somewhat lagged this morning so not much to say.What a resilient team our magical Welsh manager has put together.One none down at halftime,they strike back early after the break through Huth's superb header,then wait until,once again, the odds are stacked against them - Wilko back in the hutch,unjustly as far as I can make out - to nick the points in added on time with a goal from that prolific scorer Salif Diao.

What a team ! A record 10 match unbeaten run....three more points toward survival...and I'm sure I heard Alan Hansen say Arsenal might not get anything at Stoke next week....

Died and gone to Heaven three times at least last night...and the Jameson's rounded things off nicely.

Dare I say it...its fun being a Stokie at the moment.Long may it last.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Dick Turpin took the field tonight in the form of Alan Wiley (the bustard in blue).Incredulous Stokies marvelled at how bad he was,some wondered if he'd signed for Man City in the transfer window and they'd missed it.

He was dire.He sent Abdy Faye off ten minutes into the second half,having initially waved appeals away.Visiting players prodded him into consulting his linesman...he reversed his decision,gave the foul on Adebayor,and despatched our captain.On balance probably the right decision in the end....there had been some shirt tugging,and the linesman judged him to be the last man.

Vieira,like the ref,had a total mare of a game.He is,as they say,but a pale shadow of the former imperious player we used to see at Arsenal.He too should have had his marching orders,having kicked Whelan directly in his crown jewels on one occasion,and elbowed him in the face on another.Take your pick....but the ref chose to see neither transgression.

From the start Man City never looked like they were up for the game,making absolutely no impression on Stoke's eleven men.Faced with ten they showed more interest,and yet it was Stoke who went ahead.Whelan had several off target shots in the first half.Good practice because when the ball reached him in a central position just outside the Man City penalty box he drove it firm and low into the net to Given's right(72 mins).

Stoke's brave rearguard action repelled much severe Man City pressure,as the visitors brought on potential matchwinners Wright-Philips and Petrov,but eventually unluckily conceded a Barry goal on 85 minutes.Two yards out from the goaline the midfielder's first effort from a flick on,came back to him off the post.Despite being on the ground he managed to lift the ball over Sorensen on to the post again, but this time into the net.

Far from going into ultra defensive mode Stoke came back at their visitors,but were still seriously under the cosh.Magically five minutes of added on time were found from a half which had no stoppages of note.Amazingly it was Stoke who found the energy to get up into the opposing half,winning a throw in on the left,with very few seconds to go.

But The Highwayman in Blue had saved his best 'til last.It was at this point that he made his most telling contribution of the evening.Rory Delap's throw arrowed into the box,Shawcross rose like a salmon to head home cleanly,Given in desparation dived at our centreback (after he'd headed the ball!)and fell to the floor.

Mr Wiley decided in his infinite wisdom that some crime had committed,and had no hesitation in chalking off a perfectly good goal.Manifestly unjust,and as one or two remarked if the action had been at the other end of the ground, or at Man U or Chelsea, the goal would have stood.

Oh and I haven't even mentioned the occasion in the second half when Ricardo Fuller was felled by the combined efforts of two defenders in the Man City area.A penalty if ever I saw one....waved away once again by this less than competent official.

Three points should have been ours in all fairness.....but who said life was fair.And one last thought for Mr.Wiley......this, from the BBC,sums things up beautifully

"Mystery surrounded the decision, a fact angrily articulated by the home contingent.

But if - as seems most likely - Wiley felt there had been a foul on Given, replays are likely to persuade him otherwise."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Etherington in the clear....scan reveals less damage than was feared....out for two weeks rather than the rest of the season !!!


Sunday, February 14, 2010


So we did pretty well against Man City yesterday.....but if we get past them at The Brit the treat in store....an away tie at Chelsea!

Might as well beat them in the 6th Round as in the final.



Stoke went into this 5TH Round Cup match with a much more offensive setup.The expressed wish was that the last thing we wanted was a draw,to avoid further fixture congestion.What we got was Sod's Law predictable!

What we also got from this drawn match was collateral damage which might have an important bearing on the way our season and survival in the Premiership finally pans out.

It was particularly sad to see Matty Etherington leave the field on a stretcher.If the interim prognosis,possible medial ligament damage,is accurate,then to all intents and purposes his season is over.He has been in such a rich vein of form recently,contirbuting much to our improving home goal tally,both directly and with assists.He has been one of our major threats,and you have to wonder if this injury might not undermine our survival effort.

Still we have a ready made replacement in Liam Lawrence.Well we did have!He came on for Etherington made some useful incursions into the Manchester half,before himself departing injured.

Wilkinson was given a torrid time by winger Wright-Philips.He was booked,switched to the right side to avoid the prospect of a red card,then during the second half he too left the field, apparently injured,to be replaced by Collins.

Mama Sidibe was given a serious buffeting,and on two occasions was a cause for concern.

Oh,the match.....well Man City got off to a flyer.A bizarre goal to end all bizarre goals.A through ball on the Stoke goal bypassed Sorensen's rush out to clear.This left Ryan Shawcross to clear,challenged by Wright-Philips.Ninetynine times out of a hundred he would have had no trouble clearing.He attempted to clear,fell over as he made no contact with the ball,then prostrate he nodde the ball back to the England winger,who netted from a yard.

Mysteriously Manchester went off the boil,losing all momentum.Fate played its part.Delap subbed for Lawrence,bringing the long throw back into the equation.So it was that a Delap throwin from the right arrowed into Manchester's penalty box,to be met by Ricardo Fuller.His header into the bottom right corner of the net left keeper Given flat footed.

On the balance of play a well deserved equaliser,and in the circumstances an excellent result for the Potters.So we are in the draw again for the next round and who's to say we can't finish this job at The Brit.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010



Stoke made a slow start to the game.N'Zogbia's pace was a serious threat to the Potters.Scharner's headed opener came from a freekick after Etherington fouled the winger.

A defensive reshuffle by manager Tony Pulis began to turn things round,as Wilkinson was switched to man mark N'Zogbia.

If the first half belonged to the home side,the second increasingly belonged to Stoke.Keeper Thomas Sorensen kept his team in the match with a brilliant tip over from Rodalega's goal bound cross shot.From then on it was all Stoke as Wigan wilted under the increasing pressure.

Manager Pulis surprised everyone by bringing on Ricardo Fuller for Delap,to increase Stoke's attacking options. Etherington was once again central to all Stoke's best attacking work.Tuncay had had two easier chances to score,before he netted with a fine header from Etherington's cross in the 74th minute.

With Stoke looking the only side likely to win,Mama Sidibe unluckily saw a header strike the bar as he wheeled away thinking that he had scored.At the death sub James Beattie rifled a powerful on target shot,which brought a fine full length save from Kirkland.

Another point closer to safety for our team - it could well have been three.They are looking a compact confident outfit at the moment.

Seven games undefeated.....can they make it eight in the FA Cup against Manchester City at Eastlands on Saturday?

Monday, February 08, 2010


We were only saying at the match on Saturday that Ricardo seemed much more settled and more difficult to wind up on the pitch.Another sterling performance against Blackburn........

Then he goes out on Saturday night,and seems to have become the news.....


Just opened my official club newsletter email to be greeted by

(Courtesy SCFC)

which we're sure he is!

Given some of the garbage we see from wind up merchants on the messageboards,you have to wonder if he was putting someone straight, Kingston fashion?

Saturday, February 06, 2010



There can be little doubt that in footballing terms Stoke have progressed,no longer a one (two?) trick pony.Long balls and long throws have been overtaken by, but not replaced,rather complemented by a slick brand of carpet football.

Today after a solid start Blackburn were totally eclipsed.Stoke opened the scoring through Higginbotham on 8 minutes.Lawrence's corner from the left was headed out,but directly to Higginbotham twelve yards or so out.He connected powerfully with the dropping ball,his shot arrowing into the bottom left corner of Robinson's net.

We had to endure some serious pressure as the visitors pressed to get on terms.One period saw Stoke besieged by what seemed like a never ending continuous succession of corners from the visitors,each corner leading to another.You had the feeling that a goal must come....but we're made of sterner stuff nowadays...and the treat blew itself out.

Just on halftime a Rory Delap long throw from the right was cleared to find Etherington just outside the penalty box on the left.He played a beautiful ball to the right over the Blackburn defence,which dropped to Mama Sidibe.He managed to get goalside of Givet to tap the ball home.

Stoke opened the second half looking to add to their lead.Just after the hour Sidibe once again unsettled the Blackburn defenders,this time on the left.The ball broke to Matty Etherington,who headed infield,pursued by four defenders.Centrally placed on the edge of the box he played a one two with Lawrence,wrongfooted a defender by turning back onto his left,sidefooting an exquisite curling shot along the ground,beyond Robinson's dive, into the bottom left corner of the Blackburn net.

It is many a long year since us faithful Stokies have seen such quality from our team.

Long may it continue.So 29 points,games in hand,our Manager - 300 games in charge for Stoke - typically refuses to get carried away with what might be in the future.His focus is squarely on Tuesday's visit to Wigan and no further!

Monday, February 01, 2010



The first half was high on effort and comittment from both sides,but low on quality.Stoke probably had the best of the chances.,as the two sides more or less cancelled each other out

On three minutes an intelligent back heel by Tuncay on the right completely wrongfooted and opened up the Sunderland defence,putting Whitehead clear in on goal.Unfortunately the midfielder put in a nondescript shot,when a squared ball would have given Etherington every chance of scoring.

On 25 minutes,this time on the left,a beautiful ball by Higginbotham over the top of the Sunderland back line set Etherington free.Nothing came of his excellent squared ball.

The second half was football to be endured rather than enjoyed.From a Stoke point of view there was just a little more edge once Fuller joined the fray,but still not a great threat.Otherwise not a lot to be said.Still a dogged performance, a welcome away point.


As ever Tony Pulis goes on his methodical way......progessively increasing the quality and depth of the Stoke squad.

Deadline day saw fringe players leaving on loan,but no panic buys coming in....but a big development at 4.55pm!

The quality acquisition undoubtedly Bosnian goalie Asmir Begovic from cash strapped Portsmouth.He has been on the club's radar for a while.In the event he has signed for four and a half years,at a fee of around £3.25m.

Only 22 years of age,and highly thought of as a rising star,this is a clear statement of intent,and investment in the future by the club.

Well done to all concerned......brilliant !