Nigel Johnson is now into his seventh different decade with BBC Radio Stoke and to mark the landmark we asked him to select his favourite Stoke City star from each of the previous six decades – today it’s the 1980s and his choice is the ever-popular GEORGE BERRY…
“George Berry was at Stoke City for eight years after joining us from Wolves on a free in 1982 and he would go through the difficulty of 1984/85 when they got relegated so ignominously.
George was a very strong, tackling centre back and formed solid playing relationships with Dave Watson, the ex England defender, Paul Dyson and then for some time a young Steve Bould after he shifted from right back to centre back.
Other team-mates included goalkeeper Peter Fox, big Brendan O’Callaghan, Alan Hudson, Sammy McIlroy and locals lads Chris Maskrey and Mark Chamberlain.
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George also got five caps for Wales, despite being born in West Germany, and his international debut was against the West Germans.
I always remember his Afro hairstyle, it was unbelievable and really made him stand out.
He had a very amiable character and never said No when asked for an interview.
George Berry was also intelligent and very constructive with what he had to say and he said it as it was, no flannel, even criticising himself if he’d had a poor game.
He didn’t hide, he put it on the line, and he was devastated at the end of that 1984/85 season when they went down so ignominiously with just three wins all season, none away, and that was also my first season back at Stoke.
I’d covered Stoke in the 1970s before going to Vale from 1980-84. They went down at the end of the ‘84 season – and then Stoke went down the year after – so I was the kiss of death on both local clubs.
Not my finest hour – and certainly not the club’s finest hour.
I always remember the fact that George had enjoyed his time at Wolves and wasn’t sure about coming because whenever Wolves played at the Victoria Ground he said there was a horrible smell from the pitch.
He thought it was because of the nearby River Trent and he admitted he hated the place.
But when he got the chance to come, he grasped it and he was a good, solid centre half who also chipped in with 30 goals, including 10 from the penalty spot.
He led by example, very vociferous on the pitch, and nobody could hide from George.
He would give people a flea in their ear if things weren’t going right, but he also had a very infectious sense of humour and players warmed to him.
George still lives in the area like so many other ex-players like Terry Conroy, Jimmy Greenhoff and the late Gordon Banks.
So there’s obviously a magnetism in the area that brings people here to play, but also encourages them to remain, like George.
I always regarded George as a team player who had a resonance with the other players in the dressing room because they looked to him, as a focal point, and he always had their fortunes at heart.
So it didn’t surprise me at all when he went to join Gordon Taylor at the PFA and he remains there to this day, while remaining a great fan of the football club.
He became part of the fabric here and one who had his heart and soul in Stoke City.
He loved his time with Wolves, but without doubt is now a proud Potter.”