Walking On Walters: An Appreciation Of Stoke's Super Jonny

Much more than a grafter who epitomises Stoke's up and at 'em style, Walters can not only play a bit, he is as down to earth as fallen leaves...
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Much more than a grafter who epitomises Stoke's up and at 'em style, Walters can not only play a bit, he is as down to earth as fallen leaves...

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It must be all of one degree above freezing on a December afternoon on a Potteries council estate and Jon Walters is walking the streets with a box of biscuits. The Stoke City number 19 is working with the Stoke community team today delivering biscuits and Christmas food to pensioners and families, spreading Christmas cheer with a smile and a warm handshake, fans wander over to get an autograph or to congratulate Walters on his current form. Far from the much-maligned, over-privileged arrogant stars of public infamy, Walters takes the time to talk to each fan, stopping off at one old boy’s house and taking a genuine interest in his tales of former Potters greats, Neil Franklin, John Ritchie and the other stars of the 70s and before.

Perhaps in years to come Walters will become a City legend. Talked about in hushed, revered tones alongside those other heroes of Wembley 2011, Sorrensen, Shawcross, Pugh? Indeed for many Potters fans Walters is already ‘Super’ Jonny Walters. An inspired Pulis signing prepared to run himself into the ground for the City cause. If anyone epitomises the ‘Tony says work ‘ard’ philosophy then it is surely Walters, chasing down lost causes, busting his lungs to give every ounce of effort and come the end of Sunday’s win against Tottenham - when all of the team had given their all to beat the best team to visit the Brit in a long time - Walters was chasing, bustling, harrying and ultimately getting Kaboul sent off.

A bit of time, faith from the manager and a chance to get ‘Stoke fit’ have seen Walters develop into a quality Premiership striker

Amongst all this talk of effort, busted lungs and lost causes chased we must also take the time to remember one thing…Walters is f-ing good. He’s quick, can pass the ball, is good in the air and he doesn’t give defenders a moment on the ball. Indeed defenders must hate coming to The Brit, not because of the ‘famous atmosphere’ or the bitter cold wind that blows in off the rubbish tip next door but because they never get a moment on the ball because there’s a scouser after them determined to rob it.

Oh and did I mention he scores goals – a rare commodity amongst strikers at Stoke sometimes.  And occasionally those goals are bloomin' good. Think back to last season, the run from the half way line and the strike at home to Chelsea. The mazy run and deft finish for Stoke’s fourth against Bolton at Wembley – the goal that actually made us believe that yes we were going to (or rather coming back to) Wembley.  And those penalty kicks…he’s got a foot like a traction engine!

It’s no secret that TP was chasing Walters for a long time and Walters is fast becoming another quality Pulis purchase. However there were questions asked at the start of last season when Walters first arrived in Stoke. He looked a bit off the pace, a bit sluggish, lacked confidence and a few fans were wondering whether we had another Dave Kitson on our hands. How wrong we were! A bit of time, faith from the manager and a chance to get ‘Stoke fit’ have seen Walters develop into a quality Premiership striker and a Republic of Ireland international to boot.

Time will tell whether he can take his place amongst the footballing greats to have worn the red and white stripes, Matthews, Ritchie, Banks….Bamber. But judging by the reaction on the Bentilee council estate Walters is well on his way…. unless it was just those biscuits they were after.

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