Carlton Cole was in top self-deprecating mode when he admitted no, he couldn’t do it on a cold windy night at Stoke City – or day either.
Cole was a regular in the transfer columns linked with Stoke under Tony Pulis and almost joined a couple of times.
Now aged 37, he was quizzed on TalkSPORT about why it didn’t happen and what it is really like for away players at the Britannia-come bet365 Stadium.
He paints a tough – if slightly pampered, with presenter Max Rushden picking up that not many men of the people fly to Stoke – picture, concluding: “It’s not that I didn’t fancy it, I tried my best but my best was never good enough.”
Cole played six times at Stoke, winning once.
He said: “A cold windy night away at Stoke is horrific – and in the day as well.
“You get in a plane, go up there and go to the hotel – so already great. You get to the hotel and it’s already not great, the bed is not great. You have to try to find a radiator and switch that on in your room because it’s cold.
“You go downstairs and get your food in your hotel. The food is dry. The chicken is dry. Almost choke.
“Then you go to bed, you’re uncomfortable. (‘Isn’t it your club’s fault for booking that hotel?’ interjected Rushden) There aren’t many hotels up there that are good quality! This is Stoke we’re talking about here! I’m sorry, I’ve just had bad times up there.
“Then in the morning, you go down and have your breakfast. A dry breakfast, the eggs are poorly cooked.
“Then you go outside to get on the coach, grey clouds and you know you’re in for a hard day.
“You get to the stadium, go out on the pitch to test it out to see what boots you should wear and it’s windy, really windy, and you’re thinking, ‘I’m not sure if I fancy this!’
“(Wind is the worst condition) because back in the day – I think they’ve now filled in the corners – it would come through the gaps in the stand from all directions and I think there was turbulence on the pitch.
“When the ball is actually coming up I’m trying to win a header I can’t even judge it because it’s going from left to right so quickly.
“You just know you’ve got two meat heads behind you in Huth and Shawcross who are just going to welly the boots off you so I never had a good game up there.”
Rushden suggested that it was a feather in Stoke’s cap to make opponents so uncomfortable.
Cole said: “It’s not that I didn’t fancy it, I tried my best but my best was never good enough.
“The conditions never helped. You go into the changing rooms and they’re really bad. The seats. It’s cold. There’s no warmth. I know away dressing rooms are not supposed to be like a hotel experience but it’s not great.”
Cole was heavily linked with Stoke in 2009 and actually agreed a £4.5m deal with West Ham when they were relegated in 2011 – but Pulis walked away after refusing to meet his wage demands.
Peter Coates said before the move collapsed: “We’ve done a deal with the club it really needs (Pulis’s) input with the player because he likes to talk to them and make sure they are on board, and he is on board and everything is ok from his point of view.
“But we see that as a work in progress and hope that something can be done.”
Pulis also tried to sign him for West Bromwich Albion in 2015.
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Cole said: “I did almost sign for Stoke but I didn’t in the end. I looked back on my experience when I was up there as an away player and shied away from it because of that.
“It was just one of those ones when I don’t think it would suited me. I never scored a goal up there either so I had no fond memories of going to Stoke – why would I go and sign up there!”