Stoke City fans ‘need to dream of that first game back’



It’s all getting very real, very scary and very deadly.

In times like this we turn to our friends and family for comfort – except for the vast majority of us that can only be via the medium of HouseParty (other interweb communications are available), telephone or just shouting. Loudly.

The City of Stoke-on-Trent has, by and large, been pretty good at being compliant with the lockdown.

The odd banjo party aside (and I’m reliably informed the true crime there was as much the music the pluckers were making as the gathering together…), Stokies are generally using online methods to communicate.

Whether it to be to bask in the glory of great games from the past or try and predict what will happen in the future, there’s a lot to keep us focused and sane in the Stoke City online world at the moment.

You can join Chloe Jones, manager of Stoke women’s first team, and her many players and juniors in doing the ‘bin challenge’ (if you don’t know, look it up!).

You can read about how James Chester continues to defy government expectations of footballers by being a tremendous human being in helping his local NHS or bid for one of Liam Lawrence’s matchworn shirts he is auctioning off to raise funds for our heroes too.

I’d thoroughly recommend doing anything you can to support Dougie Mac and Donna Louise too. Worthy causes, often forgotten when frontline NHS services are so desperate in these times.

The reality is just so horrible to bear that we need a release. We need to dream of that first game back when the supporters are allowed in, of that first pint to be supped (presumably in the winner of the Twitter ‘World Cup of Stoke Pubs’ tournament), of hugging your mum/dad/grandad/grandma/kids/mates/random feller behind you when Stoke score that first goal.

It’s become the new kind of fantasy. And thanks to the internet everyone can put it online.

This week one supporter went so ga-ga he predicted on Twitter that Stoke won Good Friday’s visit to promotion-chasing Leeds United 5-1. With tyro Tyrese Campbell netting a hat-trick.

Crazy! But wonderful. How we can dream.

Of course, Stoke did once win 4-0 at Elland Road, with a rampant Ricardo Fuller destroying the actual Leeds’ actual defence.

Not a made up one.

Still we can fantasise. Thanks to Knowlesy.

On another note, the Pools Panel have now got us on 49 points, thanks to last week’s home ‘win’ against Barnsley. Given that stonking ‘victory’ in Yorkshire and Monday’s expected romp against whatever the opposite of ‘moneybags’ is Birmingham, we should be sitting pretty on 55 points and officially safe from relegation.

Thanks guys. Now can you make my numbers come up please…

Many of us have been creating fantasy cross-era Stoke XIs to bide the time from coffee to Adnam’s to cinzano… (we’ve drunk everything else and my conscience tells me that replacing the Egg Nog might have to wait for Christmas, as it isn’t exactly ‘essential’).

To be clear it’s not ‘best’, it’s ‘favourite’… let the banter commence!

If you stick to the (admittedly completely arbitrary) rule that you have to have seen the player play for Stoke, then mine would be:

Fox, Wilkinson, Sandford, Huth, Smith, Chamberlain, Delap, Hudson, Thomas, Stein, Fuller.

No messing, yet plenty of flair. And strangely enough I found selecting my favourite left-back the hardest, perhaps it is a bit trickier than we think being a Stoke manager after all….

Have fun making yours up.

And what all this online activity has also given us is a lot more camaraderie, a lot more insight into other people’s lives, their loves, their foibles and their problems.

You find out who has volunteered (often very quietly) for the NHS volunteer Good SAM programme, those who work directly in the NHS or support them or who family who do and who can bring the frontline to fearsome yet awesome life.

And those toiling under immense pressure in schools and to support vulnerable young people, those policing our streets or working, often without adequate or support PPE in care home settings or those keeping businesses afloat by hook or by crook.

Sobering, humbling, at times awesome. I salute you all.

And then you can discuss the merits of Pete Hampton versus Danny Higginbotham whilst swigging the dregs of your last bottle of brandy. You know the one… that one you use to light the figgy pudding each Christmas.

It’s been a joy to meet and find out so much more about these people, these fabulous Stokies who you might give a nod to on a matchday, but not ever know their name.

Now at least you have discovered their Twitter handle.

And you can debate Shawcross versus Dodd, Sorenson versus Begovic, Bracewell versus Gleghorn and Crouch versus Thorne: none of whom made my favourite Stoke XI.

And they say I’ve gone stir crazy holed up here…

Is it gin o’clock yet?





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