Posts Tagged ‘Hudson’

Ware,Williams,Relief, Sycophantic to Sydney, Suarez stupidity

April 23rd, 2013 No comments

The loss of Paul Ware is terrible on so many levels. Being honest, Warey was never a Hudson or Greenhoff, but we had a player we could identify with. A player who gave us the 100% we demand and played his part when we had some success. I , like many Stokies, will always cherish the moment at Peterborough when his free kick sent us to Wembley. That moment alone is enough to secure our affection forever. Many people don’t, and will never relate that…. which, quite frankly, is their loss. RIP Paul Ware.

At Queens Park Rangers on Saturday Stoke City finally registered the victory we’ve needed for so long.  We gained three thoroughly deserved points against a home side destined for relegation.  From the moment Peter Crouch gave us the lead shortly before half time the result rarely looked in any doubt.  Our approach to the game was a refreshing change.  It demonstrated that if a team goes all out to win  and commits men forward to support the forwards, you have a chance of winning a game of football!  We now go into the final four games of the season six points ahead of the relegation zone.   Even taking into account our horrendous start to 2013 we can be forgiven for feeling a sixth consecutive Premier League campaign is in touching distance.  After the trauma of recent months many of us will be relieved to see the back of this season and take stock.  Everyone involved must do all they can to ensure a long sparse period like the one we’ve suffered isn’t repeated. The powers that be at Stoke City will have some big decisions to make in the close season.

The A-League season reached it’s climax with Central Coast Mariners crowned champions for the first time.  In the Grand Final Central Coast deservedly beat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0. Despite losing the final Western Sydney can be justifiably proud of their first season…. their vociferous support has added much needed noise and colour to the Australian sporting landscape.  In the wider perspective, few could deny the arrival of Heskey Ono and Del Piero has raised football’s profile here.  One bone of contention has to be the way the Grand Final was reported.  Much of the media have lauded the crowd of over 42,000 as a sign football has well and truly arrived in Australia.  The point has to be made that the previous two Grand Finals, both played in Brisbane, each attracted crowds of over 50,000.  The A-League has attracted more media attention than ever this season which obviously is beneficial to football’s profile… but the game here isn’t just a product of the last twelve months.  We shouldn’t have to wait until we have a successful team from Sydney to see the game’s growth acknowledged and celebrated.

Throughout last season’s controversy over the Luis Suarez racism charge, Liverpool Football Club stood by the player.  Kenny Dalglish’ support for Suarez was so absolute it’s hard to believe it had no influence on his eventual dismissal.  Suarez has repaid this support by demonstrating he is, quite simply, a loose cannon not to be trusted.  Many  players have made rash tackles or foolishly lashed out but on Sunday overstepped every conceivable mark by biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.  If the FA take appropriate action and give out a lengthy ban it’s possible he’ll never play for Liverpool again. Nobody denies Suarez is a marvellous footballer but, at this stage, Brendan Rogers should assert some self governance and get rid of him. It is however sickening to think by moving him on Suarez will probably  get a move to a glamour club and a pay rise.

We saw the other end of the scale at Anfield on Sunday when a minutes applause was held in honour of Anne Williams.  She was a marvellous woman whose tireless campaigning has been an integral factor in the marvellous work of the Hillsborough justice campaign.  After losing her 15 year old son Kevin in the disaster Anne Williams spent her life challenging authority figures and gathering evidence to confront the lies associated with that tragic day. RIP Anne Williams.  Justice for the 96.

The PFA’s player of the year ceremony takes place on Sunday.    However, one question that has to be asked is why does the voting have to take place so early in the season?  The awards are dished out before the seasons climax when there is plenty of time for players to impose themselves on a season’s story, yet nominations start in February.  The PFA awards remain the games most prestigious.  Acclaim from fellow professionals remains a great accolade.  But to maintain credibility the timing of the ceremony and the voting procedure needs a revamp.

The current season is drifting to it’s conclusion and it’s something of an anti climax.  Across Europe titles are a formality, most leagues currently have a runaway leader.  Bayern Munich secured their latest Bundesliga title with six games to spare.  In the Dutch league Ajax and PSV Eindhoven were neck and neck but Ajax have started to break ahead and now carry a four point lead.  Hopefully the cup competitions will provide some much needed thrills and spills.



The ultimate mercy dash, a well earned point and the pinnacle

May 4th, 2011 No comments

The draw at Blackpool was another well earned away point.  For all their spirit and energy it isn’t hard to see why Blackpool’s situation is so bleak.   Pressing and pegging us back during the first half was positive for them but precious  little was created .  In fact, at half time Jonesy’s miss led to Stoke rueing a missed opportunity.  That miss hasn’t received the media coverage you might expect.  It’s a good job for Jonesy’s own sake we (probably) have enough points to see us safe.  The second half saw us on the front foot a bit more.  We generally had the better of the game and Whelan had two excellent long distance efforts.  Despite the more enterprising second half the draw was still the fair result.  It’d be good for football if Blackpool can stay up…. but I still wish we’d beaten them!  Such are the passions of football. 

There can be little doubt that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world right now.  The shimmy and run to seal Barcelona’s win against Real Madrid was incredible.  Of course, the style of the goal led to comparisons with Diego Maradona.  One factor which prevents Messi from being considered an all time great is his disappointing showing in last years World Cup.  Despite what some of UEFA’s  sponsors and marketing executives would like us to believe, the World Cup remains the pinnacle of world football.  Back in the 1960’s Australia had a runner named Ron Clarke.  Clarke was a masterful runner who broke many world records.  The blemish on his record is that his best Olympic performance was a mere bronze in 1964.  In short he was an expert in racing against the clock but struggled to beat other runners.  Clarke can’t really be considered an all time great because he didn’t perform at his best at the highest level.  Similarly, if Messiis to be  placed in the same bracket as Zidane,  Pele and Maradona he needs to confirm his status by displaying his genius in Brazil in 2014.  Some fireworks in this years Copa America would also be welcome!

The ongoing media spat between Jose Mourinho and Barcelona continues to weave it’s undignified trail into the worlds media.  What should have been one of the seasons real showpieces last week was undermined by childish bickering.  It’s increasingly difficult to imagine the special one working at the Bernebau next season. When, by a stroke of luck, the Catalan Globetrotters finally lost a league game Real Madrid lost too, rendering Real Sociedad’s historic victory   a tiny blot on the magnificence of Barcelona’s season.  Jose will however leave reputation intact.  Real Madrid are known for being difficult employers.  Mourinho’s failings will be overlooked as soon as he starts to seek a new employer.  Overlooked as they may be, we’ll just have to imagine a feasible explanation for the overly negative approach in that first leg.

As dominant as Barcelona have been Porto are the most dominant domestic side in Europe.  Wrapping up the title with five league games remaining they stay on course to end the season unbeaten.  A brilliant achievement that can’t be matched elsewhere in Europe…. even by the Catalan megagiants. 

My ultimate football mercy dash commences on Thursday May 5th.   May 14th is the occasion many of the most optimistic Stokies never actually believed would happen.   As a kid FA Cup Final day was one of the most eagerly awaited dates of the Joe year.  The night before the game I was usually too excited to sleep.  The lush green turf underneath those regal twin towers looked like paradise.  When my red and white mind seized control of my red and white heart I was rudely woken by the realisation that even when we have had great teams we failed to reach English football’s grandest showpiece.  This in itself brings into sharper focus what is happening.  No previous  player has ever played in an FA Cup final while representing Stoke City.  Gordon Banks, Stan,  Alan Hudson, Freddie Steele,  none of them adorned our sacred stripes in this game.  When I board the plane for the UK, it won’t isn’t just to see a football match, nor is it self indulgent laddish wackiness.  This is a piece of history we can be proud to be associated with…. a pilgrimage. We doff our collective cap to shared heritage.  Thousands of football fans never get the chance to see their team in an a cup final.  Others  experience it so regularly they have been de-sensitised and a day at Wembley Stadium is like getting on a bus or buying a bottle of milk .  On May 14th we’ll know how special it is to be involved.  And, despite being novices to this level of grandeur, we have every right to be there.  Let’s make history together.