Tag Archives: Stoke City FC

Understanding

Every year I read through a poetry book that contains a poem a day for each day from December 1st to January 6th.  And this will be the third time I’ve mentioned the poem for Christmas eve: In the Days of Caesar by Waldo Williams.  There’s a phrase in it, “naïve with power”, that describes Caesar’s inability to understand something that people with no power had no difficulty in understanding. Like Caesar, the owners of our club have the power to make decisions but there’s a lot they don’t understand about fans.

On December 26th 2015, I wrote a post about the lack of understanding between owners and fans and my desire to have “owners with a willingness to listen to ordinary fans.”  I also hoped that we could finish the year with an away win against Sheffield Wednesday;  we lost 3-0.

On December 26th last year, I wrote about Garry Monk and the way he understood Blues fans, that we wanted “to see players who work hard and give 100%”.  I also wrote that I was looking forward to the game that day; we beat Stoke 2-0.  I don’t understand all that’s happened since then but I’ll always be grateful for the way Monk kept us up and got the fans to back the team on the pitch.

This year, I still think that owners and fans should talk and try to understand each other. But I don’t know how to achieve that. Our owners are the ones with the power and if they don’t want to talk to us, they don’t have to.

I won’t be travelling up to Blackburn today and have the utmost respect for the Blues fans that will be going to the game. As always, I’m hoping for a win and have included a picture of the result of our last game against Blackburn, to remind us that we can beat them.  Whatever happens, I hope the day goes well for our travelling fans and that they enjoy it.

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Enemies and friends

In Omar Bogle’s interview on BluesTV, he talked about scoring a goal against Jack Butland, a former Academy team mate of his. He said he talked with Jack after the game, but he didn’t talk about his goal. It sounded as though he had the ability that professional football players need to have, to regard opposing players as enemies during a game and as friends at other times.

I believe that fans also need to be able to do this. During games we want to see our team play well and be lucky; we want the opposition to play terribly and have the worst bad luck imaginable. But, at other times, we can sympathise with fans of other teams. When Frank Knight, a Blackpool fan, agreed to pay £20,000 to the Oyston family, owners of Blackpool, so that they wouldn’t take him to court for his rant against them on Facebook, fans from many other clubs made contributions to pay that, an example of the football community at its generous best.

I’m reading a book that discusses this: What we think about when we think about Football, by Simon Critchley, a Professor of Philosophy who supports Liverpool.  He says that “there is an inherent rationality in football that permits both passionately held commitment to one’s team at the same time as being able to tolerate, understand and indeed encourage others’ deeply felt support for their teams.”  It is not easy reading, but it is interesting and has some great photos.

Critchley wrote that “a game can be a 90-minute anxiety dream”.  Wednesday’s game felt like 87 anxious minutes until Bogle scored his brilliant goal and I stopped worrying that Stoke might equalise. But I will remember it as a brilliant game, with two great goals, a large crowd and an atmosphere that reminded me of how it felt when I stood with my dad on the Railway end about 65 years ago.

Hope I’ll also have good memories of today’s game.

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Mind the gap

Don’t mind the gap

I’m not writing about the 1-point gap between us and a nearby team but about the financial gap between teams. According to the transfermarkt website, Stoke fielded the Championship team that cost the most on the opening day of this season and Birmingham City were 16th in that table. But, as Johan Cruyff said, “Why couldn’t you beat a richer club. I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.”

It’s teams that win football games and Garry Monk has created a team from a collection of individuals. He’s also narrowed the gap between players and fans. Players have been involved in community projects that help to connect them to the people who support them.  Three years ago, I wrote about a phrase, “naïve with power”, that expressed how rich and important people don’t understand ordinary people.  That may be true of some in football but it’s not true of Garry Monk; he understands Blues fans and what they want. We want to see players who work hard and give 100% and that is what we are seeing when we go to games now. There is a togetherness between players and fans that reminds me of the atmosphere I remember from my childhood, in the 1950s.

There have been times when I’ve gone to Blues games out of a sense of duty, feeling that my team was so bad it really needed my support.  Today, I am going because I want to and am looking forward to it.

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Marvellous

You have probably inferred from the title that this is not going to be a match report on Saturday’s match.  It’s a plug for the BBC programme Marvellous.  If you haven’t seen it yet, go to iPlayer and download it now. It’s funny and sad and watching it will do you far more good than reading reports of how Birmingham City lost and whose fault is was. Continue reading