Stoke City Fans Have Their Say Ahead Of Cup Final
Vital Manchester City is delighted to bring readers our biggest Q&A ever ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final with members from Stoke City 'Oatcake Fanzine'. Part 3.
Such was the response we've decided to break the article into several segments.
Part one can be found by clicking here and here for part 2.
Oatcake Fanzine can be found at oatcakefanzine.com.
VMC: Stoke City FC has reached their first ever FA Cup Final. What does it mean to you as a supporter?
Ben: It means a lot to Stoke supporters to reach the FA Cup final we reached the semi-finals 3 time before this year and never got to the final, we have always been the nearly got it club. This is a once in a life time opportunity for Stoke fans to see Stoke in a FA cup final after a 148 year wait, we've seen legends like Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks and Geoff Hurst grace the Stoke pitch but none have ever been able to get Stoke to a FA cup final, the current crop of players have the chance to put their name down in history. It still hasn't sunk in that we actually won the semi-final and have reached the final after watching my first game with my dad 16 years ago on a freezing cold November evening watching us play Port Vale in front of a half empty stadium I'd never thought I'd see Stoke at Wembley.
Andrew: It means everything. To put it into some sort of context, Stoke are the second oldest league club in the world. We were formed in 1863 (17 years before Man City) and we have not won one major competition (just a League Cup). I know Man City fans feel success-starved but I think you have won the top division twice, the FA Cup quite a few times and even a European trophy.
This is the first time we have even reached the FA Cup Final in our 148 years.
VMC: Tony Pulis has had two managerial stints at Stoke. How do you rate him?
Ben: TP has always split Stoke supporter there are some that hate him and some that love him. I couldn't think of a better manager to have at Stoke he's got this football club through one really tough patches he kept us in the Championship, then got us into the top flight and kept us there for 4 seasons now. Some dislike the style of play and his principle however we aren't Barcelona and have to stick to within our means and he is slowing evolving our play every season. What some people don't understand was that survival in the Premiership was a big need for the club and Pulis new he had to do it any way possible for the club to progress and he's doing it and people can't complain about the result which is his job.
Andrew: As a 51-tear-old supporter I had given up hope of us ever getting into the Premier League. We are now going into our fourth year in the PL, we have our first ever FA Cup Final and we are going into Europe. I think it is fair to say that I love Tony Pulis.
VMC: Where will you be watching the FA Cup Final?
Ben: I've got my ticket so I'll be there.
Andrew: At home, with my Stoke mad Aussie wife and my two sons. We currently have the misfortune to be marooned in Penzance (hi, 1986 calling) so we don`t make every match and therefore don`t have season tickets - so no chance of Cup Final tickets for us. We will still have a brilliant day plus we will be at the Arsenal match this Sunday to see the lads off to Wembley.
VMC: What is the club, if anything doing to mark the occasion? For example, are they putting on large screens and showing the final at the Britannia Stadium etc?
Ben: There has been talks about having it on a big screen at the Brit however a lot of the staff will be at Wembley, there's suppose to be an announcement within the next couple of days, however every single pub in the potteries will be jammed packed of people watching the game.
Andrew: Don't think they are doing anything, but I don't really think they need to. The fans who can't get tickets will want to watch the games with their family and friends at home or in pubs.
VMC: The semi-final result at Wembley against Bolton was truly amazing. Did Stoke play above expectations or were Bolton like rabbits dazzled in a car headlights?
Ben: If you believe the media then it was a matter of Bolton freezing on the big occasion, however it was more to do with Stoke playing so well. Bolton started off the better in the first 10 minutes then Etherington slammed in the first then it was a matter of Stoke not taking their foot off the gas and Bolton couldn't handle it. Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth stifled Kevin Davies all match and that meant that Bolton had no real threat up front and the Bolton back 4 couldn't handle Etherington and Pennant.
Andrew: We were brilliant but the signs had been there for a while. We stuffed Newcastle 4-0, played Chelsea off the pitch in a 1-1 draw that should have been 6-3 and given Tottenham a good game in a 3-2 defeat. Against Chelsea Walters scored a wonder goal - starting off in his own half. Etherington did exactly the same thing at Spurs along with a Jones wonder strike. We have hit form at just the right time with Jones, Walters and Etherington all in top form. Best of all though is the form of Jermaine Pennant - he has simply moved onto another level in the last few weeks. It is easy to see why Arsenal paid £2m for him as a 15-year-old.
VMC: If you were granted two wishes, which two current Manchester City players, if any would you like to see playing for Stoke and why?
Ben: Joe Hart - a really really good goalkeeper and will be the best in the world in 5-7 years in my opinion and plus Stoke have a decent record of having good English goal keepers.
Yaya Toure - has a good engine on him, big and strong he has all the thing that would make him a perfect Stoke midfielder and he has that little bit of quality that we are sometimes lacking in the midfields.
Andrew: I wouldn't have any. Don't get me wrong, Man City has a lot of top players but I don't think they would fit in at Stoke. We are very much a bunch of misfits and rejects forged into a very, very effective unit - Jones not wanted by Bruce, Matty with his gambling problems, Pennant not wanted by anyone, Walters floundering around the lower leagues, etc. We don't have one player that cost over £8m. If it was about team spirit, grit and determination the FA would have given us the cup already.
VMC: In general, how do you and your fellow Stoke supporters perceive Manchester City Football Club and their fans?
Ben: I have a lot of time for Man City fans been through some tough time like Stoke and have always backed their club home and away. I think in term of the club some Stoke supporters aren't that keen as some say you are ruining football by paying over the odds for some players and that the owners are trying to buy success. Mancini has rubbed some Stoke supporters up a bit especially after playing at the Brit with some of his comments he seems to be a bit of a sore loser.
Andrew: Obviously perceptions are now determined by the money issue. I think most football fans always saw City fans as decent and long-suffering 'proper' fans as opposed to their glory-hunting neighbours. I do think that the limitless funds available to City are disconcerting for the fans of other clubs. I don't think it is envy, but rather a fear that the sport itself will be ruined if one team has endless spending power.
In particular, I think the Bellamy situation is very worrying for football. A top-class player is not required by his parent club but is not made available at the level he should be playing at. Instead he is 'given' to a club who can't afford him to play in a league below his standard. This also gives an unfair advantage to Cardiff over their Championship rivals (I so hope they don`t get promoted). I think the Bellamy situation is wrong on every conceivable level.
Sorry to be critical but I was saddened to read on the BlueMoon forum just how much disdain and lack of respect Man City fans have for a smaller, less glamorous, less successful club. I'm sure this is just a recent phenomenon.
VMC: FA Cup Final - Man City v Stoke City. Final score prediction please?
Ben: I don't want to jinx anything for Stoke so I'll go for a 1-0 Man City win plus your supporters will miss the goal because you`re doing that gay Poznan thing.
Andrew: IF you don't manage to stop Pennant then Stoke will win - 1-0 perhaps.
Our thanks go to Ben, Paul and of course Oatcake Fanzine.