Stoke City have more Wales players than Swansea and Cardiff as net closes in on number seven


Stoke City could soon have more Wales players on their books than either Swansea or Cardiff.

Rhys Norrington-Davies is lined up to become the seventh Welsh international under Michael O’Neill if all goes to plan and he arrives from Sheffield United.

He is expected to join up with Adam Davies, James Chester, Morgan Fox, Joe Allen, Sam Vokes and new arrival Rabbi Matondo.

In comparison, four Wales players have turned out for Swansea this season – Connor Roberts, Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon and Liam Cullen – and it’s four for Cardiff – Kieffer Moore, Harry Wilson, Will Vaulks and Mark Harris.

The way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before they have to paint ‘Araf’ on the streets of Trent Vale.

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These current Potters follow in some famous – and some infamous – Welsh footsteps at a club where Delilah has rung out from the stands for 35 years. Not to mention managers including Mark Hughes, Tony Pulis, Nathan Jones and Alan Durban.

Even Ryan Shawcross, who grew up on the border in Cheshire, played for Wales schoolboys and Peter Crouch and James Chester are among those who have done coaching badges with the Welsh FA.

So we have dug out five of the best to inspire the latest generation.

GEORGE BERRY

A cult hero who’s name is still sung by supporters, particularly at away games when he is sitting among the travelling Stokies.

Joined the Potters on a free transfer in the summer of 1982 and stayed – coming back after being released in 1984 – for eight wholehearted years at the heart of defence, mostly as captain.

One of the club’s best penalty takers too, always finding the bottom right corner.

George Berry, pictured at Stoke City’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015, has remained a big fan of the club

MART WATKINS

Walter ‘Mart’ Watkins was the first Stoke player to be capped by Wales and, with his neat moustache, led the line as the club mounted their first title charge in 1903. It was his goals which kept the side in the division during some relegation scrapes in the early 20th Century too.

The tall and slim centre-forward scored 52 times in 139 games over three spells in all, famously forming a near-telepathic partnership with winger Arthur Lockett. In fact, Aston Villa signed them both in 1903/04 – including a undisclosed ‘high price’ for Watkins, whose only goal for his new side came in his second of just six games; a 3-1 win over Stoke.

MICKEY THOMAS

The two-time player of the season is one of only 13 players to turn out for the Potters in three different divisions.

Formed a skilful midfield alongside Mark Chamberlain, Sammy McIlroy and Paul Bracewell during his first spell … only for manager Richie Barker to have the ‘brainwave’ to bypass that and adopt doomed route one tactics in the summer of 1983.

Still, his cheeky character and endless energy on and off the field made him a fans’ favourite.

“He was a scoundrel,” said Barker. “He was the best runner at the club, and he could be up all night in London, sleep in the Chelsea boot room, drive up to Stoke for quarter to 10 and still lead the cross-country in training.”

Often been spotted watching Stoke since leaving in 1991.

JOHN MAHONEY

Pinched from Crewe for £19,500, Mahoney took time to nail down a regular starting role at the Victoria Ground, and he was a sub at Wembley when the Potters won the League Cup in 1972.

But Tony Waddington sold Mike Bernard to Everton and was rewarded for putting his faith in the midfielder.

He was a key figure holding together a side packed with attacking flair, providing a perfect foil to Alan Hudson and helping Stoke pick up more top flight points in 1974 than any other side in the country.

Went on to win more than half a century of Wales caps and help Swansea win promotion to the top flight.

John Mahoney celebrates his goal as Stoke City rack up a convincing win over reigning champions Leeds United.
John Mahoney celebrates his goal as Stoke City rack up a convincing win over reigning champions Leeds United.

DICKIE ROOSE

Leigh Richmond ‘Dickie’ Roose would have found fame enough as a pioneering goalkeeper; a world class Manuel Neuer of his day who was often found charging to the half-way line.

But he was also a nationally renowned doctor and a glamorous eccentric who was named with Jack Hobbs by the Daily Mail as London’s two most eligible bachelors in 1905.

A showman, he would be picked up from Stoke station by carriage which would be followed by throngs of supporters as he made the short trip to the Victoria Ground. When he missed a train for a game at Aston Villa he hired one for himself instead and sent the club the bill.

He suffered worse than anyone when Stoke suffered food poisoning en masse during a game at Liverpool in 1902, leaving the pitch to be sick after taking a shot in the stomach. He became delirious and believed he was still keeping goal diving around on the pavement outside Anfield.

And he was at the centre of controversy when, after falling out with the board and signing for Sunderland, he returned to play as a ringer for Port Vale in a hotly-anticipated Staffordshire League decider against Stoke at the Vic.

Pioneering goalkeeper Dickie Roose once tried to get his own back on Stoke directors by turning out as a ringer for Port Vale in crucial Potteries derby.
Pioneering goalkeeper Dickie Roose once tried to get his own back on Stoke directors by turning out as a ringer for Port Vale in crucial Potteries derby.

He walked out wearing his old City shirt, refused referee’s orders to take it off when the crowd got angry, and then played a blinder. Stoke fans ran on the pitch, carried him off and would have chucked him in to the Trent if it hadn’t been for the intervention of police.

But that all pales into insignificance compared to his bravery in the First World War. As a superstar footballer he helped raise morale serving shoulder to shoulder with his one-time fans in the trenches – and using his expert distribution skills to hurl grenades at the enemy.

He was killed sprinting across No Man’s Land, firing his rifle as he went, during the Battle of the Somme.





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