Never Mind The Buzzcocks, We're Stoke City, And We'll Play How We Like

Lawro forgot we existed, our players are branded as thugs while relegated teams are lauded for playing the 'right' way. Love us, hate us, but you can't ignore us...
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Never Mind The Buzzcocks, We're Stoke City, And We'll Play How We Like

"Well for all four teams left in European competition, well they have a tough draw, for both Manchester clubs, and both London clubs".

So said Mark Lawrenson on the BBC, commenting on the European competition draw, forgetting that there are five teams; it is symptomatic of most football pundits that he forgot about little Stoke City, the only club to have qualified properly for the Europa knock-out round. How often are Garth Crooks or Lee Dixon asked to comment on their former club in the MoTD studio?

I'm sure that fans of other smaller clubs experience the same due to the media's bias towards the "big" teams, but if I was paranoid I'd believe there was a conspiracy against Stoke.

Either that, or Stoke are maligned for, supposedly, not playing "proper" football - you only have to go on to the comments on any match report when Stoke have dared to draw, or even win, against one of the "big" teams (at least Spurs and Arsenal fans have found something to agree on!).

As a Stokie I have mixed feelings about this

On the one hand, I find it very irksome:-

  • Much is based on myths and not facts. For example, in the 2010/11 season, Arsenal had the second worse disciplinary record, yet it is Stoke who are branded as thugs!
  • It fails to recognise the achievement of Pulis and the club in retaining Premiership status - contrast and compare with both Blackpool and the Tony Moanbray era West Brom (West Brazil as we branded them). Both lauded by the pundits and other clubs' fans for playing "proper" football, but relegated after one season.
  • It is unfair towards many of the players - Huth & Shawcross are, apparently, thugs; Vidic, for example, whose style of play is very similar, is a quality defender. Similarly, the skills of players like Matty Etherington and Ricardo Fuller tend to get ignored.

On the other hand, we Stokies do rather relish being hated, summed up very well by the t-shirt based on the cover of the Sex Pistols seminal album, "Never mind the Buzzcocks, we're Stoke City, we'll play how we want". When we do get complements it seems a bit strange and uncomfortable, particularly when they come from North London; there is a sense that if everybody suddenly started liking and complementing it we'd lose the "back to the walls" spirit that we feels gives us an edge, at home at least, and makes beating certain teams all the more fun.

In that case, whether we're hated or loved I'm happy, but don't ignore us.

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