My long-awaited night at Stoke City with people who love their club


It felt like a breakthrough moment to be back at Stoke City on Monday night.

I was there with nearly 2,000 others to watch Stoke under-23s take on Sunderland, watching my grandson Lewis and a live game of football.

Hopefully it’s just the start. We can all be guilty of concentrating on the top divisions at times but, if you think the past year has hit those clubs hard or been difficult to watch on television, it has pushed some clubs further down close to the edge.

We have all had challenges and heartbreaks but in a football sense I feel for the fans who haven’t been in to watch their clubs, the ones who have never missed a game for 30 years.

There are people who have proudly followed the team home and away, go to every youth game, read every word about them. It’s their lives and it will have hurt trying to watch games on the internet.

You can tell by the look on people’s faces that it meant just as much to go to watch an under-23s game as it would to a fan going to watch their team in the Champions League.

People love their clubs, no matter how good they are, no matter how frustrating they can be, no matter how much at times they beg to wish they didn’t. Let’s hope it’s just the start and we can all look forward to next season.

TV can try to recreate the atmosphere of a big game, they can play artificial noise and be clever with camera angles, but it’s never going to be the same.

Even with a crowd of 2,000 you can see and hear how people react to innocuous things or refereeing decisions and how that influences what happens on the pitch.

As for the game itself, as happens when it’s evenly matched, it’s so important about who gets the break.

Until half-time, no one had really looked like scoring and it was going to be vital who got the first goal. Unfortunately it was Sunderland who struck – but Stoke have had a good season under by old winger Kevin Russell and here’s hoping we can all go to cheer them on again soon.



The bet365 Stadium, home of Stoke City.

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WELL done to Leicester City on finally getting their hands on the FA Cup.

I picked up the vibes that most people in the country were behind Leicester as they watched the final on Saturday.

It’s a perfect riposte to the Big Six and the attempted breakaway. It seems like everyone is keen to see those clubs dragged down a peg or two and it’s going to be the biggest problem that those six are going to face going forward.

Football fans won’t forget.

It was interesting to listen to people talking before and after the game, people reminded about what was attempted by something as traditional as the FA Cup when small can conquer giants.

It was a brilliant finish from Youri Tielemans to win the game. Chelsea have picked up and improved under the new manager Thomas Tuchel but, typical of a Wembley cup final, no matter how great or how bad your form, everything can change on the day.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like if Wembley had been empty when I won the cup with Man Utd so I’m pleased that Leicester players got to share it and celebrate with at least a few of their supporters.





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