Dec 18, 2006

It ain't grim in Stoke, ok? (Part 1)


As some of you may or may not have noticed, Stoke City have crawled their way up the championship table to a healthy 7th position.

After our away game at Wolves on the 23rd of September we sat in the rather worryingly 22nd place, and with just 1 solitary win the doom merchants were in full flow. They where calling for Tony Pulis’s head and even planned a “Red card protest” in an aim to oust the “new” gaffer. Pulis had rejoined the club after being sacked at the end of the 2004/05 season. He then had a 1 season stint at Plymouth.

But then 'it' happened.

The first loan mercenary arrived, in the form of Aston Villa outcast Lee Hendrie. He was the target of several Championship clubs, including Crystal Palace and QPR, but he opted to stay in the north, and he arrived at the Brit just in time for the home game with Preston.

We drew 1-1, but it was evident the confidence Hendrie had bought to the squad. We were unlucky not to take all 3 points against an in-form North End.

The next 2 saviours weren’t far behind. Rory Delap from Sunderland and Salif Diao of Liverpool were installed just in time for the away tie at Elland Road. Nobody, including myself expected to get anything from the game. But we did. We beat a lacklustre Leeds 4-0, and it should have been more. Happy days.

We brushed aside Sunderland in our next game, lost against Southampton at St Marys, then absolutely demolished Norwich 5-0 the weekend after.

Our next game was against Leicester on the 31st October. Stoke started brightly, as Ricardo Fuller gave us an early lead, but we were undone by 2 exceptional goals towards the end of the match. Confidence was still high though.

Liam Lawrence was signed on an emergency loan from Sunderland. The last of the mercenaries … for now, surely? Nope, we signed Patrick Berger on deadline day. Wtf!

In our next 7 games against Coventry, Palace, Hull, West Brom, Cardiff, Coventry and QPR we dropped only 2 points and conceded none. Zilch. Zero.

7 games, none conceded. We had broke a record that had stood for over 50 years.

In my 20 or so years as a Stoke supporter, I have never seen the style and quality of football we are playing now, so forgive me if I get a little over excited at times. But I think this could be our year.

Obviously it all hangs on what happens in January. Hendrie and Berger will return to Villa, as will Diao to Liverpool. Liam Lawrence is a done deal and I have high hopes of seeing Andy Griffin back in the red and white. So its a possibility that I'll be crying into my pint glass in a month's time as we slide down the table. The Championship is a rollercoaster and everyone seems to yo-yo up and down the table. I just hope the board know that they need to finish off what they have started. Otherwise, what's the point?

Part 2 in late Jan 2007. Hopefully titled 'Stoke's drive towards the Premiership'.

Wish us luck.


1 comment:

stokie said...

I've just realised we're now 7th.