Date:Thursday May 12 2011
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 4.
Such was the response we've decided to break the article into several segments.
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?
James: I quite simply can't put it into words how proud, excited and overjoyed I am to see Stoke City reach the FA Cup final for the first time in our history. Other fans have tried to undermine Stoke and their route to the FA Cup final, but we have beaten very strong opposition and we deserve to have our name in that final as much as anybody else ever has. With the millions watching around the world, perhaps we may see a few more 'Stokies' pop up around the globe!
Kevin: It further cements the growth the club has made over the last 6 years under Pulis, and gives us a chance to play European football again, which may allow the club to attract 'better' players.
On a personal level, sitting watching the semi-final at Wembley, it literally made me cry when we beat Bolton, but my seven year-old son took it all in his stride.
VMC: Tony Pulis has had two managerial stints at Stoke. How do you rate him?
James: If I didn't love my dad, I'd probably ask Tony to be my new father! His first reign at Stoke was far from a triumph and on his return, let's just say I was largely pessimistic about our chances about even staying in the Championship...AND NOW LOOK! Tony Pulis may not adhere to the 'beautiful game' but as far as I am concerned, points mean prizes and Pulis is the personification of that! He has surpassed my expectations again and again, and at this rate, he will take Stoke to the Champions League (... well...maybe).
Kevin: For me I think he is very close to getting on the same idolised level as Tony Waddington from the 60-70 era. However, there are still a lot of fans who detest him due to the perceived image we have because of our style of play. He will never be offered a job at a 'big' club because of this, and many question whether he can take Stoke any higher. Let's all remember Charlton and Curbishley. Under Pulis we have finished higher every season and are now in the FA Cup final as well.
VMC: Where will you be watching the FA Cup Final?
James: I quite honestly wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I missed this one. I will be there, among 25,000 other loud and proud Stokies, enjoying the Wembley sunshine and the momentous occasion!
Kevin: Block 107.
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?
James: Being entirely honest, I have absolutely no idea! I have put so much of my attention into getting a ticket, that I have not noticed any other potential avenues of watching the match! I am sure they will, but if not, rest assure, every television in Stoke will be beaming out the lively Wembley action!
Kevin: I think everyone is still in a state of bemusement to be honest; there is no big screen at the Brit because all the stewards want to be at Wembley!
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?
James: Quite honestly? I think Bolton were dazzled, not by the occasion, not by the ground or even the supporters. I think Bolton were dazzled and caught short by an early goal, then another and a third. In the first ten minutes, Bolton looked as prepared and as 'mad for it' (little one for you Manchester locals) as Stoke did. But Stoke took a massive strangle hold of the game, and quite simply outplayed them. Bolton were most certainly about 100,000 miles behind their best form, but don't assume Stoke won because of this, their poor showing was as much due to Stoke not allowing them to play their game as it was about them 'not turning up'.
Kevin: Bolton did turn up, but Stoke did not allow them to play and we took our chances when they came along. By the time super Jonny Walters got the fourth after 68 minutes, Bolton should have got back on their coach as we could have scored eight.
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?
James: Will I be under threat if I say 'none of the above'?...No, if I could have any two?...Joe Hart would be my immediate choice! While Stoke currently have one of the other 'top prospect' goalkeepers at the moment in Asmir Begovic, who is being tailed by the likes of Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea, Joe Hart just seems like 'something else to me'. I've never seen a goalkeeper look so secure and sure of himself between the sticks.
And number two? While the obvious choice is the likes of Yaya and Tevez, I will probably buck the trend and opt for Mr. Pablo Zabaleta. I rate him extremely highly; he is proven in both fullback positions and loves to get forward. Full back is still one of Stoke's weaker positions and somebody in Pablo's ilk would be a dream come true.
Kevin: Tevez because 'he works 'ard', and Johnson if he could play for us now if Matty fails to make it.
VMC: In general, how do you and your fellow Stoke supporters perceive Manchester City Football Club and their fans?
James: Personally, while I resent Man City's money (which is probably jealousy), I am relatively indifferent to Manchester City Football Club. Despite a swift spell in the lower divisions, it has been so long since there has been any real rivalry that I have neither admiration or disdain for the club. HOWEVER, I do take umbrage with certain Man City fans who now consider themselves as 'One of the big boys' and therefore refer to stoke as 'a tin pot club'. However, I will say that I was cheering the blue side of Manchester on semi-final day...who wasn't!!
I think the majority of Stoke fans would agree with this, and the majority of Stokies would rather see Man City prosper over Manchester United any day of the week!! Everyone likes to see old red nose down in the dumps.
Kevin: We used to understand your attitude of 'hey, we don't win much, but at least we have fun watching it' attitude. But there was an undercurrent of hating The shit more than liking your own team (?). Unfortunately, the soul seems to have gone out of the club since the Arabs came along and that chief exec. Bloke is a complete embarrassment to be honest.
VMC: FA Cup Final - Man City v Stoke City. Final score prediction please?
James: I think it will be fraught, tight and abundant with chances. However, (with fingers crossed) I predict a 2-1 win for Stoke City (AET).
Kevin: Heart 2-1 Stoke, head 1-0 your lot. (Don't quote me on that though!)
Our thanks go out to James, Kevin and Oatcake Fanzine.
Date:Thursday May 12 2011
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