John Coates saw his first Stoke City game as a six-year-old in 1976, a 2-1 home victory over Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town.
John Tudor bagged both of the Potters goals for a team littered with legends of the red and white – Shilton, Dodd, Marsh, Pejic, Bloor, Salmons, Hudson, Conroy, Crooks, Greenhoff.
No wonder the Stoke vice-chairman was smitten that September day at the old Victoria Ground, along with most of the other 20.171 fans at the game.
But when we asked Coates to select his “dream” Stoke City team, he favourite players came from a later era.
He explained: “For my favourite Stoke team I have concentrated mainly on the mid-1980s to mid-1990s and have purposely omitted any players who only played for us in the Premier League.
“I was a member of the South Cheshire Supporters’ Club at that time and we used to go to every away game, leaving from the Military Arms in Sandbach.
“I have many great memories of this period, especially during Lou Macari’s first spell as Stoke manager. If he hadn’t gone to Celtic, who knows what would have happened?
“I realise this is not the best team to have played for Stoke, but I am very much answering it as a favourite team.”
(187 apps 2004-10)
A great free transfer and a good servant to the club. He played a big part in our promotion to the Premier League.
(319 apps 1988-95)
Mr Reliable who racked up more than 300 games and never let us down. He replaced Lee Dixon, who was a tough act to follow.
However, Butler proved to be an excellent signing and formed a great partnership with Tony Ford down the right.
(211 apps 1981-1988)
A classy defender whose injury in the 1986/87 season maybe cost us promotion.
He left for Arsenal and I felt absolutely robbed when Gunners boss George Graham told the transfer tribunal that he was buying Bould as a squad player.
He had to pay just £390,000 for a player who would play such a large part in Arsenal’s success. It still rankles!
(218 apps 1989-96)
It’s a very tough choice between him and Vince Overson for the second centre-back spot. I’m just glad I haven’t got to tell one of them. Both were rocks for us.
(325 apps 1989-96)
I think Lee Sandford would be called ‘uncompromising’ in today’s game. He was a vital part of the no-nonsense defence which proved so successful under Lou Macari. He gets into my team at left-back.
(125 apps 1982-85)
The first time I saw him play, I thought he was the best player I had ever seen.
If he’d have kept injury free he’d have played at the very top, that’s an odds-on certainty.
(44 apps 1986-87)
It was brief, but a wonderful talent. I’m not sure ‘Zico’ Kelly would fit in with Tony Pulis’ fitness regime, but boy, he could take a free-kick.
(271 apps 1985-97)
A local lad with a huge amount of ability. He could also have played higher with better luck with injury and illness.
(88 apps 2001-04)
A classy winger with magic in his feet. What a player!
(148 apps 1989-92 & 1994-95)
I loved ‘Bertie’. He built a great partnership with Mark Stein and his goalscoring record wasn’t too shabby either.
In fact, he was a much better player than he was given credit for.
(134 apps 1991-93 & 1996-97)
My favourite player growing up. His double against Manchester United in the League Cup and the winner against Stockport at Wembley stand out, but irrespective of those he was just fantastic to watch in a Stoke shirt.
(186 apps 2005-2013)
I have to include Mama somehow as he is my children’s favourite player.
He is the nicest guy and a hugely important player for us during a vital period in the club’s history.
(141 apps 1988-94)
Paul was in the year below me at Sandbach School, so I always wanted him to do well.
My favourite memory of him is in the second leg of our Autoglass Trophy semi-final against Peterborough in 1992.
We’d drawn the first leg 3-3 after our on-loan keeper Kevin Pressman had what you could call a difficult game.
So, myself and a lot of other people from Sandbach set off for the second leg on a rickety old coach.
We nearly didn’t make it because the windscreen shattered when we were halfway there.
It was raining but, had we waited for the window to be replaced, we would have missed the game.
So, we carried on without a windscreen and someone at the front was given the job of regularly wiping the rain off the driver’s glasses.
Once we got to the game, the turning point came when we won a free-kick.
I turned to my brother-in-law Richard who was next to me and, let’s just say, expressed my concern that Paul seemed to be lining up to take it.
The next thing I knew he had smacked it into the top corner right in front of the Stoke fans to trigger one of the great ‘mentals’ in the stand.
We were on our way to Wembley.
(208 apps 2006-12)
He rivals Mark Stein as my favourite ever Stoke player. What a talent. My favourite goals were the one at Wolves in our promotion season and his fantastic run away at West Ham which won us the game 1-0.
The only reason I haven’t included him in my main team is I am guessing he will be in lots of others.
Therefore, I thought I would make sure ‘Bertie’ Biggins got at least one place in someone’s team. Also, what a substitute to have on your bench.
(216 apps 1991-96)
We had a great defence under Lou Macari. I’ve included the other three – Butler, Sandford and Cranson, so there’s no way I can leave Vince Overson out.
I have great memories of our regular games against Stockport County when Overson and Cranson would go up against players like Kevin Francis and Jim Gannon. To say they were full-blooded affairs would be an understatement.
(246 apps 1996-01)
Played more than 200 games for us and was capable of controlling matches. He scored some memorable goals, including one in our win over Bristol City in the Auto Windscreens Shields Trophy final in 2000.
I don’t usually stay in the team hotel, but did so after that game. Kavanagh picked up a microphone at about midnight and sang a brilliant rendition of Saturday Night at the Movies in his lilting Irish accent. My wife loved it.
WHY NOT SEND US YOUR STOKE CITY DREAM TEAM? JUST CLICK HERE