Stoking the Fires

Date: Friday 15th October 2010

Trotting Home

Can we pot the red and whites on the Reebok green baize this weekend?

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2nd September 2005

Clash of the Titans should be nursery school stuff by comparison.

With the current emphasis on the beautiful game and its precious, cotton-wool wrapped super stars, the Reebok will, this Saturday, stage something that is almost entirely opposite in the context of what makes football the game it should be. The time-honoured and vastly outdated stereotype of dust-covered pottery firers versus whippet leading, cloth-capped mill workers, will no doubt be already in the minds of the Fleet Street cut-and-paste journalists ready to describe this game. Skills on display there will undoubtedly be, but in an atmosphere more in line with a true Roman gladitorial arena than the southern "over to you Charles" bowling parks where "foul, Ref" is the mantra chanted every time an opposition player gets within ten yards of the frilly underpant darlings that make up the 'big boys' squads.

Northern sides (any team above Watford Gap) are in the limelight right now as thuggish bully boys, whose only ambitions are to remove the players of the gentlemen of punt to the nearest A&E in short order. This has caused a tirade of disapproval from the managers of Rovers, Stoke and Wolves and, whilst not mentioned in Danny Murphyís recent outburst, most of the fans of other clubs will almost certainly class the One and only Wanderers, and that absolute lout, Super Kev - a sort of grubby and villainous Robin Hood to Prince Johnís royalty - right up there with them. Luckily, or otherwise, Stoke City definitely donít fall into the latter category. With a prospected turnout of close to four and a half thousand Potter devotees set to make the pilgrimage up country, this should be a real blood and thunder encounter. Currently, the Stoke fans have many things to cheer about, and cheer they undoubtedly will. Add this to the 'Return of the King' reception that SKD will certainly get, and the decibel level should be in the red zone.

Stoke are on a roll right now, having won four and drawn one of their last five games in all competitions, and Tony Pulisís bonny-lads will certainly be looking for revenge on recent encounters against the Super Whites. All the bullish nonsense aside, Pulisís men are redoubtable foes and certainly wonít come here to do us any favours, indeed theyíll be looking to enhance their own league position at our expense. Sorensen is hoping to be back within the sticks for the Potters. Add the gravity-defying missile throws of Delap to the threat of Jones and the front runners and this wonít be easy to say the least. Then again, West Brom were on a roll and after our recent draw against the Stretford clockwatchers' eleven, we could well see a much desired (and needed) win on the cards.

Various thoughts indicate Holden and Lee may be rested after their mid-week international forays, not, hopefully, something that will deter our newly - capped skipper from chomping at the bit to get back to his weekly battle against football and the media opposition alike. Whether this will be the case only the fullness of time will tell. Not one for the faint-hearted, this game promises much in the men-versus-men category. Iíll predict a hopeful win with a draw as a minimum must.

Our team should be much as normal with two of Cahill, Knight and Ricketts in central defence and the midfield resting on Holden and Lee being ready. Stoke's possible starting eleven may be:

Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Faye, Collins; Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington; Jones, Walters.

"Come on you Whites" is top of the pops right now.

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