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Stoke v Boro
 

Stoke v Boro

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Martin Bellamy
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I’ll tell you what – writing these starters isn’t easy when the calibre of wordsmithery that’s gone before is so high. It’s not helped by the current doom and gloom looming over our season, particularly after Saturday’s performance against Plymouth, so I’ll be honest and say that I’ve struggled to get an angle for this one – it’s not been helped by my minimal knowledge of Stoke, although I did go to an away match at the Britannia Stadium back in the 90s with my two girls, after my first wife and I split up. Shouting at away games was just what we all needed at the time.

So, where to begin? My first thoughts were to discuss the “Six Towns” which make up the City, i.e. Burslem, Tunstall, Fenton, Harley, Longton and Stoke upon Trent itself. The towns were amalgamated in 1910, before which they were apparently separated by a cart track called The Lane. The towns now form Stoke on Trent, with the name Stoke deriving from stoc, which was an Old English word, for place.  Not the most imaginative name then, although stoc later diverged to mean dairy farm, summer pasture, crossing place, meeting place and place of worship. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Maybe we can get a feel for the place by looking at famous people who come from Stoke, so here’s an eclectic bunch that I found online:

  • Anthea Turner
  • Robbie Williams
  • Arnold Bennett (novelist)
  • Bruno Brookes
  • Eddie Hall (strongman)
  • Lemmy from Motorhead
  • Slash from Guns N’ Roses
  • Nick Hancock (They think it’s all over…)
  • Mark Bright (footballer)
  • Phil (The Power) Taylor
  • Edward Smith (Captain of the Titanic)
  • Josiah Wedgewood (Potter)
  • Stanley Matthews (another footballer apparently)

 

I once worked with a chap from the area, who played football at youth level for Port Vale, where Sir Stanley was employed in his later years in a coaching capacity – he didn’t speak highly of him and, apparently, he wasn’t popular with the young lads as he was far too strict with them. From what I’ve researched, it looks like the club were struggling financially at the time and that may have affected his demeanour. As the only footballer to be knighted whilst still playing professionally, there’s no doubt he’s a legend of the game, but whether today’s young fans are even aware of him is doubtful.

Sticking with football, my next port of call was to look for some players who’ve played for both clubs, coming up with this list:

  • Tuncay Sanli
  • Dean Whitehead
  • Peter Beagrie (no booing at the back, please)
  • Robert Huth (Huuuuth!)
  • Chris Riggott
  • Jonathan Woodgate (whatever happened to him?)
  • Danny Batth
  • Shay Given
  • Mark Crossley
  • Chris Kamara (unbelievable)
  • Dave Kitson
  • Michael Ricketts (probably one of the worst players I’ve seen in a Boro shirt)
  • Ryan Shotton (target)
  • Mick Kennedy
  • George Kinnell
  • Ritchie De Laet
  • Carlo Nash
  • Frazer Richardson
  • Graham Kavanagh

 

I’d be intrigued to know who you’d have in our team today if these players were at the peak of their abilities. For me, I’d probably have Woodgate, Huth and, maybe, Tuncay.

On to this weekend’s game and Stoke City FC are not having a good season – they’ve slipped into the relegation places after their loss to Cardiff on Saturday, so this must be a game we’re looking to win – the Boro’s record against them since 1902, stands at 43 wins, 25 draws and 37 losses, although all that will count for nothing on Saturday. I’m foolishly predicting a 2-1 win to the Boro, which, hopefully, won’t be the kiss of death to our lads in red and white, but after the last few games, we’ll all know that this match could produce any sort of result. Maybe a standout Boro performance will sell a few more season tickets for next year.

To finish, let’s have a look at one of the few TV programmes set in Stoke; The Great Pottery Throwdown*, which is filmed at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, one of the Six Towns. Contestants on the show vie to make solid structures from flimsy clay – which, to me, sounds just like what Jonathan Woodgate is trying to do with our defence. Like the potters sending their creations into the kiln, let’s hope our team are similarly fired up with no slip ups, that the guys upfront make plenty of pot shots (whilst no one gets crocked), fettling is done where required and we wheel out a winning result that’s so good, that it makes Keith Boro Brymer Jones weep with joy.

*Hopefully, we’ll gain enough points to avoid relegation and a Great Boro Go-Down!


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Great stuff Martin well done I’ll post later 

 

OFB


   
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Martin thank you for a great and amusing opener.

Com on BORO.


   
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EXMIL CHALLENGE - NOTIFICATION 

After reading the comments on here, that the majority feel our season is over now, I have decided to cancel this seasons challenge, mainly because I feel not many (if any) have the heart to compete in it. Hopefully normal service will be resumed next season.

Come on BORO.


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I think that is the right decision, exmil. Thanks for all of your curating work on your challenge.

Maybe next season...

Lovely intro, Martin, which really cheered me up in a miserable week for the Boro. Very enjoyable.

Stan Matthews was a stickler for self-discipline, and it was this which enabled him to continue to play first-class football into his 50s.

 He was a great trainer and always kept himself in tip-top condition. He was on the receiving end of horrendous and violent treatment  pretty well every match he played in, yet never retaliated, lost his cool or received a caution throughout his long career

He was a modest, shy man who never spoke about his own achievements. A credit both to himself and the game, for services to which he was awarded a knighthood which was universally acclaimed.

That is the context in which I would place any criticisms about what he expected from those Port Vale youngsters who came into contact with him.

Today he would be a multi-millionaire celebrity whom kids would venerate but never have the privilege of getting close to.

I am the proud owner of his autograph collected, alongside a few encouraging words, as a schoolboy at Ayresome Park in the late 1940s

This post was modified 2 months ago by lenmasterman

Martin Bellamy
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@lenmasterman Those were indeed different times. How great that you got his autograph - I’ll bet you were thrilled to meet the great man.


   
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You are so right Martin, the wordsmith on the starters has been outstanding and that includes your own; an enjoyable, informative and amusing read, thank you.

I hope your score prediction is as good! It should be given our away form has been better than that at home but we seem to have a knack of making a mess of things against teams who haven’t won for ages, or haven’t scored or are down at the bottom of the league, so what could go wrong,

I really do hope that we can start seeing the team playing consistently and with a better defensive structure over this latter part of the season to at least give us some hope that better times are in the offing.  

A positive result at Stoke would be a good starter.  Lose this one and the pressure will really ramp up against Norwich and QPR and on MC.

1-2 will do for me but 0-2 would be better. CoB 😎


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@exmil.  Thanks Exmil for all your work on the challenge and I agree with you decision to not have it this time, fingers crossed we will all be feeling more upbeat next season. 😎


   
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Martin

A great wordsmith who is not a newcomer to blogs in any way and does a lot of blogging and writing.

I think you’ve set the positive tone perfectly and I’ve spent the last two hours searching my house for my favourite things.

Where did I put them ?

In the bin ? Quite likely !

Buried them in the garden? too cold and ive just cut the grass !

Cast them away into the loft ? No I knew I would need them again !

Ahah ! I’ve found them stuck under the sofa ! Sofa so good you may ask ? What are they ?

it’s my pair of foam hands 🙌 of course !!

Theyre back and im going for the return of Boro3 !!!

Thanks again Martin well done 👏 

OFB


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@exmil - I agree that your decision seems sensible in light of the team's position in the league table following recent results.  Thanks anyway for the enormous efforts you must have put into previous iterations of "The Challenge".  I suppose we could have a contest to identify the member of this Blog who is the most miserable as a result of how the season appears to be turning out.  There will be plenty of nominations. It will be like "Spartacus". 

"I'm the most miserable".  "No, I'm the most miserable!"  "No, it's me..." etc.  Endless fun for all concerned!


   
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@martin - Thanks for that Starter piece. It was a very enjoyable read.  I must be a youngster as I knew about Sir Stanley Matthews.  And I don't think you have anything to worry about on the wordsmith front!

As to the players who've played for both clubs, I note you say that you'd pick 3 of those players (if they were at the peak of their abilities) to get into the current BORO team.  I think you were being diplomatic. Some of them would get into the team even at their current ages and condition!  Certainly the 3 you named (Woodgate, Huth and Tuncay) would WALK into the current team. BORO would gain 2 of the best centre halves in its history AT THEIR PEAK and Tuncay would contribute guile, creativity and lots of effort.

But I'd certainly have Shay Given over any of the keepers we've had in recent years.  He was a class act and completely changed the performance of our defence when he joined on loan from Villa at the end of his career. You could see him ordering the defence out when he wanted them out, and they did as they were told as they had absolute confidence in him.  It was as if someone had waved a magic wand over our defence, when he was Given - see what I did there? - the gloves.  Relatively small for a keeper, he still controlled his area.  I don't recall him particularly being a "ball-playing keeper" but his shot-stopping was so good and the way he made it seem the defenders were 6 inches taller than in reality, makes it inevitable that he'd get into the team ahead of our current 2 keepers.  Once between the sticks, he'd not be replaced. He was Mr Reliable and I'm sure that even "play-it-out-from-the-back" managers like Pep Guardiola and Klopp would both pick him as keeper over the ones already on Boro's books because he just had such safe hands and good judgement.

Kavanagh was more of a leader than anyone currently on the pitch and took a mean penalty (I still remember Leeds 0-1 BORO with a Kav penalty after about 1 minute and then holding on to win at a very hostile Elland Road), and I suspect that a fit Riggott at his peak (he did have a lot of injuries with BORO) would be spitting blood not to get a centre-back start if he was at BORO today.  Maybe we could play 7 at the back....


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@forever-dormo 

I’m Spartacus!

OFB


   
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Martin Bellamy
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@forever-dormo 7 at the back? We might restrict the opposition to 2 goals!


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @original-fat-bob

@forever-dormo 

I’m Spartacus!

OFB

🤣 

 


   
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Clive Hurren
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Brilliant, Martin, thanks. I really enjoyed your starter. 

You mentioned Arnold Bennett (1867 - 1931), who wrote prolifically. Many of his novels are based in and around Stoke and paint an interesting portrait of the area and its potteries. One famous novel was Anna of the Five Towns. Yes, five! Back then, they were Burslem, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall. I don’t know when Fenton joined them to make it 6: presumably this happened when the conurbation grew outwards to incorporate neighbouring communities, in much the same way that London swallowed up all of its peripheral villages? 

Mention of George Kinnell always reminds me of a trip to Derby’s old Baseball Ground I made as a lad in 1968. Derby were flying high under Cloughie, and had signed the magnificent defender, Dave Mackay. In an effort to emulate them, Stan Anderson signed Kinnell from Sunland. His Mackem allegiance didn’t endear him to the Ayresome Angels. He really wasn’t a good defender, having been switched previously from his normal midfield role. Early on at Derby, he gave a stupid goal away with a mistake. Cue one of the wittiest, most instantaneous, most brilliant chants from our away end I’ve ever heard: 

‘Oh we paid twenty thousand for Kinnell, for Kinnell ………. !!’ 

Kinnell only stayed the one season, and made only 14 appearances for us. Perhaps that chant got to him? 


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@original-fat-bob. No I’m Spartacus! 😎


   
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Martin, A lovely opener and mention of Tuncay Sanli made me think of that goal he scored at Derby(?), what a belter. We could do with three like on Saturday, Well we'll have score three to win since we always let two in it seems.

UTB,

John


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@clive-hurren.  I was also at that Derby game and the refrain you refer to was sung on the bus all the way back home.  If I remember correctly we were leading but managed to throw it away, 4-2 comes to mind but it was awhile ago! 😎

This post was modified 2 months ago by K P in Spain

   
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Martin Bellamy
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@clive-hurren I’ve got a vague memory of a chant that went something like, “and do they smell? -  like George Kinnell”  It’s possible I may have dreamt it!


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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@martin-bellamy 

An absolute belter Martin. You could say that you have definitely hit Stoke for six. It would be nice to imagine we will do that with them on Saturday, but that really is fanciful thinking.

Having a look through the names you have mentioned, perhaps we might do better with Anthea Turner, the late Lemmy and the even more late Edward Smith in the lineup. Certainly Captain Smith would know a thing or two about a sinking ship !

Struggling teams are being our nemesis this season, so I will not be waking on Saturday morning over filled with optimism. As it might appear just now, OFB probably has a better chance of success seeing cruise liners queueing in the Tees Estuary than we do of beating the Potters on their own turf.

I think I am afeared that we are simply going to drift for the rest of the season rather than begin building a confidence for next.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

Powmill-Naemore
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@exmil 

I have to agree with you, but I am very sad and will miss the fun your challenge brings.

Let's all hope there will be good grounds to look forward to a rejuvenated challenge this time next year as we all predict our way to seeing a resurgent Boro challenging on all fronts.


   
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@martin-bellamy 

I think they changed George’s name to Fu !

OFB


   
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Exmil

Good choice regarding the challenge. Whilst it’s brilliant when we have a chance of doing something in the league just now it looks 😩 hopeless.

I must confess I was a few games ago thinking who can I get to write the previews for the playoffs and then the final !!

Ah well problem solved this season !

Thanks for the effort you put into it .

OFB


   
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@k-p-in-spain - I was first!!!


   
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Selwynoz
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Posted by: @powmillnaemore

@exmil 

I have to agree with you, but I am very sad and will miss the fun your challenge brings.

Let's all hope there will be good grounds to look forward to a rejuvenated challenge this time next year as we all predict our way to seeing a resurgent Boro challenging on all fronts.

How many games in a row do we have to win before we all decide to give it a last minute go?  Six, anyone?

This did also make me wonder how the COTS challenge is going.

UTB

 


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @selwynoz

How many games in a row do we have to win before we all decide to give it a last minute go?  Six, anyone?

This did also make me wonder how the COTS challenge is going.

UTB

 

I was planning on posting an update in the international break, to help fill the void 

 

This post was modified 2 months ago 4 times by Powmill-Naemore

   
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Martin no need to worry about your calibre of wordsmithery as that opener was definitely keeping up with the word-Joneses with a stylish and amusing preview - which rose to your challenge of uplifting the mood after the lack of progress against Plymouth where Boro had most definitely put the grim in Pilgrims and then some.

Though, it doesn't seem right to be playing at Stoke on Saturday afternoon as I thought it was contractually deemed it should always be a wet Wednesday evening. Anyway, let's hope Boro are up for this one and put in a winning performance this time - it was actually against Stoke that our six-game winning run came to end in the return fixture at the Riverside so maybe we can get revenge.

Anyway, only wins have any meaning now and let's see if Boro can go on another winning run until the international break and show that they're not about to let the season just drift into nothingness - btw given our limited midfield options I'd quite like to see if Law McCabe can cut it as he looked quite a decent passer of the ball in the few games he's played.


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OFB,

You've found the foam hands, marvellous, you do realise that you will have to visit the changing room before the game and wave them about to disperse the fumes. Then as each player leaves for the pitch they'll have to have a mighty sniff of them for the desired effect. Remember, one sniff makes you bigger, but not two because a second sniff might make you small to paraphrase Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane.

Whilst the song is all about the White Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland we aren't in Wonderland as Boro supporters, more Despairland and amazement at the inconsistencies. Let's hope your foam hands make the goals seem bigger and the keeper smaller. We live in hope and before anybody says anything we all know what 'hope' does!

Maybe the coaches need a trip to the 'crossroads' to make a pact.

Nurse, I need some more of my medication please.

UTB,

John


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@john-richardson 

Ill just have to make sure that I take off my foam hands before I go to the bathroom then !

I can’t afford to make anything smaller than it is !!!

OFB


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@original-fat-bob Modesty becomes you!

UTB,

John


   
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