Archive for the ‘Bunny’s Rabbit’ Category

Bless me, Father – A Stoke City Christmas Blog by Bunny

December 20th, 2011 No comments

Bless me, Father

The festive period is a time of extremes. Extreme happiness and extreme sadness. A time for thinking of those less fortunate than yourselves: like turkeys.

I hate ‘Fairytale of New York’. Really detest it. Beloved of students, clueless tipsy office girls at Chrimbo parties and anyone else who wears dreadful jumpers or eats Pot Noodles. I also hate New Years Eve. “It’s the most maw-aw-kish time of the year” – that’s what Andy Williams should have sung. Unless you are royally trolleyed, you simply sit watching garbage telly and feel sad. And hope the next year is a darn sight better!

‘Auld lang syne’ is another dreadful song, too, a simply tuneless dirge even Coldplay couldn’t replicate. I don’t want to cross arms with some whopper I don’t know and pretending that
I’m happy, thanks. And no one knows any words other than the title too, but still pretend that they do. Baffled, here, as to why folk do that.

Cheery kinda bloke at Christmas, aren’t I?

Christmas is about the two F’s – Family and Football. Always has been and always should be.
8pm kick offs on Boxing Day ? The work of satan. Winter break? Shove it, as there’s nowt so character building than going to Leyton Orient on New Year’s Day on a coach where the smell of freshly sicked-up ‘Peddy’ hangs in the air like Big Bren, and watching us secure
three points, in front of a few hundred fellow souls with nowt better to do than go to East London on the first day of the year.

As much as I moan, sometimes life as a Stoke isn’t that bad you know. But first let’s make like that plum Craig David and re-re-wind (and the crowd say Bo, Ray E-vans). Ok?

Unlike most nogger fans, I can’t remember my first Stoke game. My first memories of watching us were against Middlesbrough at Vale Park and then having a season ticket in 1977 in the Butler Street Stand. Relegation inevitably soon followed.

So, basically, I was introduced to the Potters after a visit to Vale and then being forced to sit in probably the only roofless stand in Britain at that time, and watch us go down. Perhaps instead of now thanking my dad in this article I should be phoning Social Services instead?

But am I grateful that my old man grasped my 8 year old hand all those years ago and walked me to those Victoria Ground turnstiles? Daft, rhetorical question. And isn’t ‘rhetorical’ an ace word?

If you are thinking of being all sentimental and schmaltzy this Christmas, then surely a bit
of an effort could and should be made to treat that person who first introduced you to Stoke City Football Club? A lifetime of mainly struggle and heartache has turned us into the folk we are today, and should make us so, so appreciative of the status we have in English

We have a right to moan and we certainly have the right to voice our concerns about our beloved club, but that only means we care, we love. It’s when people don’t have their say – that is the time to start worrying, for the opposite of love isn’t hate, its apathy.

So I’m going to put a bit more effort into selecting my Chrimbo presents this year, and showing my caring-alpha-male side, by actually telling my old man how much I, gulp, love him and thank him for taking me to Stoke.

And why shouldn’t we thank the people who have ensured that we have grown up following the most just and righteous cause? I wouldn’t swap my soaking at the Abbey Stadium and
subsequent topless huddling on the coach back with my old fella for United’s European Cups; I wouldn’t swap sliding down the grass bank at Wigan for any number of trophies.

Because what we have one is what makes us what we are. And it makes any special moment to be even more special.

The look on his face at the end of the beamback Cardiff game at the Brit meant everything.
A craggy, weather-worn and Stoke-weary face that had witnessed the best part of six decades of mediocrity, lit up by a goal off someone’s bum. That is football. That is Stoke City. That’s my dad. Someone who would do anything for his family and Stoke City. No-one
can take away the great times we’ve had watching Stoke City. No-one.

Watching Stoke and the morsels of success we’ve had is akin to that rocket-fit blonde in The Place coming over to you after months of quarter-to-two dances with assorted livestock; It’s when the dj drops the seven minute version of Eric B’s “Paid in full” after listening to Olly Murs, JLS and any other X Factor clown all night. It’s the diamond in the rough, the needle in the haystack, the treasure in the trash etc.

Two and a half year ago my father-in-law unfortunately passed away. He was from Vale stock, and was a proper, good, kind and gentle man. A man who loved nothing more than his family, his sport, and a pint of mild in his hand, whilst listening to any football match that
happened to be on the radio. A man who I have never, ever heard say anything bad about anybody, and whom I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about.

If Stoke had lost he wouldn’t have a dig at me. He wanted all local clubs to do well. My own dad’s a little different: if Stoke lost he’d mope about on a Saturday night and only really be happy once again the next time we’d won. I suppose I’m like that – indeed, as Vince
Lombardi once said, “if sport isn’t about winning, then why do we keep score?”

A different generation, my old man and John. A better generation? Dunno, but I’m reminded of the responsibility I have as a parent (and football supporter) to do the right thing. We have to cherish our families, and we should cherish the path that they’ve chosen
for us, be it in life or football, and we should simply give eternal thanks that we have been chosen to support Stoke City Football Club.

“Football isn’t life or death, it’s more important than that”. Sorry Shanks, that’s rubbish, absolute rubbish. Football changes lives and it would be a sad, sad life if you didn’t worship your local team.

Do you still think that the Stoke coat your dad would love as a Chrimbo present is too expensive? Buy it, just buy it. And thank him.

Dad’s are ace. Tell yours that he is.

Stoketshirt Euro Tour Ad

Messageboard mania – PHWs and Rimmers

October 3rd, 2009 No comments

A piece written exclusively for by former A View to a Kiln Editor Anthony Bunn following the Stoke City vs. Manchester United game.

Well, the Stoke messageboards have certainly been back to their Anti (PHWs)/ Pro (Rimmers) Pulis best this week, haven’t they?

“Amazing what a 2-0 loss to the World Champions will do to the mentality of some Stokies”, say the Rimmers, whilst those still in shock from last Saturday aren’t particularly too bothered about who it is we actually played. The truth?

Well, once again, that probably lies somewhere in the middle, but I was completely pig-sick of what happened on the pitch last Saturday, and despite being up against one of the bet teams in Europe, I’m starting to get a little worried about how we set up last week.

Nobody expects the Potters to go out all gung-ho against any team, certainly not one of the big four. But there’s a difference between that and actually looking to want to get in the other team’s half of the pitch.

For the record, I felt United were ordinary by their standards last Saturday. But hey, why sweat blood when you can win by not even taking the handbrake off. I commented to a mate on the way back to the Mich last week that the very least that Ferguson (and I) expected was for United to be pushed all the way and for old red cheeks to be moaning in the Sunday media about how he’d got several injury doubts before their game against Wolfsburg.

That’s not to say I wasn’t players injured (ahem), but I certainly want our players to live up to our “Big, Bad, Stoke” reputation. A reputation I certainly think is unjustified as we have some passengers who don’t put a tackle in, eh Mr Etherington?

4-5-1 and that’s what it was, however you dress it up, soon became 8-1-1, with Scholes doing whatever he liked, our midfield virtually in our defence’s DNA, and Etherington doing very little in a position that should have been tailor-made for a certain Turkish international captain!

I felt sorry for Dave Kitson, who needed a periscope to spot his nearest team mate. Last Saturday was a day when the mercurial talents and work of a certain Mr Fuller were needed more than ever, and a sure-fire slap in the chops for those who somehow still refuse to see what he brings to us.

No, last Saturday was not a good day. Take away your opinion of the team we were up against – and United’s superb second half display off the pitch put paid to a few of the stereotypes about their supposed lack of real support – and the plain facts are that we bottled it big-time.

The manager got the team selection and tactics horribly wrong. Collins looked like a rabbit in the headlights again and Huth despite total commitment is not a right back. Not when we have a right back who hasn’t done much wrong this season and kept Ashley Cole in his pocket, in Wilko.

Whitehead and Whelan still don’t do it for me, whilst Lenny and Rory worked hard but were ultimately doomed to unsupported failure.

Beatts looked a shadow of the player we had last season, even before his injury, and we need Fuller fit and starting EVERY game for us to progress. Which brings me to Tuncay Sanli.

The Man United game and how we set up, was a perfect opportunity to pick the lad, but we went with the known rather than the unknown. To progress, somewhere down the line we have to start keeping hold of the ball. To do that, we have to play our best players.

TP now faces a new problem. We have a quality player who is totally unlike anyone that he’s had in the squad before. Somewhere in a team of artisans, we need an artist to take us to the next level, or even reach last year’s level.

Not a good day at the office, but in TP we have to trust. He’s earned the right to baffle us and confuse us and make us tear our hair out. But what I don’t want to EVER see again at our ground is OUR manager bigging-up THEIR team on a huge screen, 10 minutes before the game.

Perhaps after watching that I should have walked back down the steps of Block 23 and returned back to the Plough for more anaesthetic?!?!

Bunny’s Rabbit

August 24th, 2009 No comments

Bunny’s Rabbit

A piece written exclusively for by former A View to a Kiln Editor Anthony Bunn

“Life’s not about how good you were. It’s about how good you looked”.

Eccentric ex-Van Halen  frontman David Lee Roth muttered that quote sometime in the mid-80’s, and for the twelve months and two weeks we’ve been in the Premier League we’ve had to endure various media hacks having cheap digs at us on a regular basis. No worries, as said hacks looked rather foolish from up there in 12th position. But that was then…..

With the squad at our disposal, and it’s a squad that TP has built himself, we are forced to play in a certain way. That style of playing lends itself more to a) home games, b) home games and, er, c) home games, where the opposition are at the mercy of a small pitch, the Brit climate, and a team that’s driven by as hostile and vociferous a crowd that resides in this country.

Our problem last year – and, with just one addition to the squad since May it’s still apparent – is that once again, we are banking on Europa League home form simply to keep us up. Sooner or later a lack of away points catches up with you. And let’s face it, you can’t simply rely on repeating the heroics of last year’s performances in ST4.

We’re not suddenly going to go out and buy a new first eleven, so the style we play will hardly change, and it doesn’t have to at home. But what we have to do is to have a re-think about just how we’re going to play away from home in the next nine months.

The one glaring facet lacking in our play away from the Brit is our seemingly unwillingness, or inability, to pass the ball and retain possession.

To do that with one up front doesn’t work for me, especially with midfielders who very rarely get anywhere near, never mind in front of, the lone striker. And if we are going to play a lone striker it simply has to be Ricardo Fuller, who often single-handedly terrorises defences in the ‘channels’.

But what is imperative is finding those key players who are comfortable in possession, can take an extra touch, and pass it. We now have a little more pace in the team with Matthew Etherington, and it would be quite nice to see us pass the ball to him. At present, only Glenn Whelan looks capable of filling that role in my opinion. Who plays next to him?

Well, such is our lack of a cutting edge in open play that Rory Delap HAS to have a place in the starting line-up. He brings energy, drive and a willingness to track back, and despite the media hype, you simply can’t overlook the fact that his throw-ins and goals last season made-up virtually a third of our goals. No team can afford to leave a player out with those stats.

That might mean a bench spot for Dean Whitehead, but I don’t like going into any game with two holding central midfielders. We got away with handing the lion’s share of possession over to the opposition last season, but can we tweak our style slightly so that we get our fair share of the ball this time around?

Anyone who thinks we can go anywhere (never mind Anfield!) and bomb at teams is living on Planet Deluded. But what we can do is make sure that we add a touch of ball retention onto the many positives we do have.

Dave Lee Roth was wrong. Style isn’t everything. Some will never have style – just take a look at Phil Brown’s embarrassing ‘jumper-draped-over-the-shoulder-man-at-C&A’ get-up on Sky Sports last Sunday morning. Style isn’t just something you climb in the countryside, Phil! But you can change mindset and add that touch of quality that makes all the difference at places like St Andrews, where yet again the output from centre midfield was basically nil as an attacking or footballing force.

This season’s Premier League has started in a wide-open manner. Burnley have beaten two of last season’s top five and Wolves and Brum have done okay for themselves. I still think tow of those three will go down, but the Sunderland home game is already a massive one for us, especially when you see just who we have coming up after them.

If we don’t have at least one major signing that will improve the team, never mind the squad, and another couple of half-decent players (a full back and a nippy centre forward for me) then I feel that we might be hoping for the January window to come around as quickly as possible.

We are a team that cannot play at anything less than 110%. We don’t have the quality to make up for any lowering in passion and spirit and there will be some time – maybe this season, maybe next – when we don’t just have to have a Plan B, but to possibly rip up Plan A and devise a totally new one.

Is the above criticism of TP? Not really, no. He’s done a superb job and the least he deserves is our trust and patience. But as supporters, we also have the right to want our club to be as good as it possibly can be. When that ceases, then so does our progression.


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