Why can’t we just be Stoke City fans instead of suffering with SAFC?

Our stripes are more fetching. Theirs are worn by better teams
Our stripes are more fetching. Theirs are worn by better teams

Let’s be honest. We love Stoke City for beating the Mags this week, allowing us to start the weekend out of the bottom three. We haven’t always loved them. It had something to do with the way Stoke seemed to cling on to the hooligan age longer than most, the muscular nature of Tony Pulis’s approach to goalmouth tactics (at either end) and the neanderthal hounding of Aaron Ramsey. But Salut! Sunderland has broadly enjoyed excellent rapport with Stoke fans willing to answer our Who are You? questions and, lo and behold, City are all of a sudden a decent side playing good, winning football.

Pete Sixsmith was brilliant on BBC Radio Newcastle this week, hailing the virtues of Stoke and saying, more or less, how nice it must be to wake up as a Stoke supporter instead of enduring SAFC’S annual assault on our collective blood pressure. Here he explains why …

Oh to be a Potter.

A number of years ago, some of our less enlightened fans would serenade Stoke City fans with a charmless little ditty that went (to the tune of the refrain from Sloop John B);

Your club is a joke,
Your club is a joke,
All our cr** players,
We sell them to Stoke

Courtesy: A Love Supreme
Courtesy: A Love Supreme

When you consider that they had the likes of Dean Whitehead, Danny Collins, Danny Higginbotham and Rory Delap in their line up, they may have had a point.

But not now. The club that plays at the top of a hill next to the municipal incinerator is a fine example of how to be comfortable in your own skin and how to make a success of the Premier League.

While “bigger” clubs like ourselves, Aston Villa and them from up the road languish in the relegation places and desperately attempt to cling on to their place at the top table of English football, albeit as far away from the principal diners as it is possible to be, City are upwardly mobile and looking to eat with the big boys rather than accept the smaller portions at the far end of the table.

The players mentioned above gave Stoke sterling service but Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes have replaced them gradually, improving each transfer window.

Players like Matthew Etherington and Jonathan Walters, unheralded at their previous clubs, came in and did the business while we were frittering away huge sums of money on the likes of Danny Graham, Matt Kilgallon, Craig Gardener and Ji Dong-Won.

They are owned by Stoke supporters in the form of the Coates family, owners of Bet 365 – the ones that use Ray Winstone’s head and sometimes the rest of his body to literally shout the odds.

Peter Coates has invested a huge amount of money in the club he has always supported and is about to get most of it back, unless City lose all of their remaining games and plunge down the leagues. Even then, we would need to make up 15 points to catch them, so they look safe.

Jake's farewell to Bardo
Jake’s farewell to Bardo

How is it that a club that for many years was thought of as one step away from kick and rush and which appeared to employ players based on size rather than quality, has become a middling member of the self-styled best league in the world?

The key word is stability. No regular managerial changes, an owner who backs rather than sacks his managers – at least this time round – and support that has no delusions of grandeur but who realise that progress is gradual not immediate.

How much of that applies to Sunderland AFC? We sack managers with regular monotony, make appointments which give us a quick fix but which have no real appearance of permanence and an owner who has no back story relating to Sunderland AFC. Add to that a feeling that we are really one of the big clubs in English football from many fans (including this one at times) and you have the antithesis of Stoke City.

I wish them well for the rest of the season (apart from when they play us of course).

They need to win one of the cups or take the league by storm as Leicester City have done.

I haven’t always spoken well of them previously, but they seem to have turned their backs on the immediate past and have moved on. Bojan, Shaqiri, Imbula, Arnautovic and Diouf look better signings than Matthews, Lens, Kaboul and Jones.

When we sacked Bruce, the job was between O’Neill and Hughes. My head said Hughes and my heart said O’Neill. Follow the brain rather than the emotions is the message here.

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17 thoughts on “Why can’t we just be Stoke City fans instead of suffering with SAFC?”

  1. Colin

    We won’t make up at all because when I tried to defend my club I was called all the names under the sun, and you let it ride. When I wrote that piece about Wenger, I was aware you’d left up all of the personal abuse. I’m just warning a fellow Stoke fan what he can expect on here if he fails to meet the high ethical standards you obviously embody at Sunderland.

    Most Stoke fans see the booing of Ramsey as pathetic, even though we are sick to the back teeth of hearing on and on about it all after all these years, including a campaign of straight up lying from Arsenal, Ramsey and Wenger.

    • Yeah. I’ve just checked. All the personal abuse is still there alongside a lot of high and mighty talk about the moral standing of my club.

      • I shall take another look. My recollection is of robust debate but not personal abuse, certainly less abuse than was mentioned at the time about Oatcake (no surprise there – I quickly realised it was not exactly welcoming). If I find what you say, I shall remove it even at this late stage. I also recall warm words from Sixer and maybe others.


        Update: have deleted a few comments from a 2011 thread despite feeling they were no more than borderline cases of abuse.

      • Borderline eh? Shall I try calling Pete Sixsmith a thug, oaf, cretin, moron etc because he supports the team that employed a fascist manager and convicted sexual predator? Would that be borderline?

      • Mark – if you look at my comments on the other thread https://safc.blog/2016/03/stokes-shawcross-arsenals-ramsey-and-a-debate-that-wont-go-away/ you will see that I thought Colin mentioning the Ramsey/Shawcross incident in his introduction was an error of judgement. I felt it was spurious and has taken the debate away from Pete’s argument that SAFC has been badly run over the past few years whilst Stoke have consolidated their position.

        This is a personal issue between the two of you over an incident that happened half a decade ago. Let’s just end it now and agree that you two will never kiss and make up.

  2. Memories are long in football….think of Safc and Jimmy Hill. In a bizarre way the booing is a backhanded compliment. Arsene is myopic when it comes to the physicality of his own side who have had more red cards than most top teams during his tenure. He is however hawklike when spotting infringements against. Ok he doesn’t do the Mick McManus impersonations a la LVG

    • By the way I wanted to cite Les Kellet but to my eternal shame couldn’t remember how to spell his name when posting

  3. Arsenal fans & management not to mention the London centric media have exacerbated the situation, it happened 6 years ago and still won’t go away. It’s become the darkside of any Stoke v Arsenal fixture. Ramsey just won’t let it go! He’s a fabulous, gifted player but not gracious enough to accept an apology and Wenger just this season alluded to “the old physical Stoke” in a post match interview on MOTD despite our new & well earned reputation.
    I don’t recall Rory Delap having ago at the Sunderland player involved in his leg break in his debut for us !
    Thanks for a very honestly and enjoyable article otherwise ! #SCFC

    • My thumbs up, Ian, for your closing recognition that this was a decent article crediting Stoke for the progress made.

      But I have to say that while I am familiar with this line of defence for the treatment of Ramsey, it simply doesn’t wash. Few of us ever know for sure whether a player sets out to harm. I don’t think, on balance, that Shawcross did but remember my feelings of horror when I saw it during live coverage. It was rash in the extreme and the red card was fully merited on that basis alone. You cannot then start booing the victim every time he touches the ball after a very long layoff and get away with saying it’s just because of the media (too easy) or Arsenal. Booing comes across as booing, ie without qualifying clauses, and is therefore seen by anyone who does not support Stoke, and by a few who do, as shameful. It shouldn’t matter a hoot that the victim has not accepted the apology. I would no more boo Delap for having been badly injured by a SAFC player than jump off a tower block. And I would never defend an atrociously reckless challenge by any Sunderland player.

  4. The thread at Stoke’s Oatcake fan forum has a depressing mix of abuse and antipathy in response to the piece above praising their club’s achievements – along with some fairer posts acknowledging the real sense of Sixer’s article.

    And there’s a curious defence of jeering a player who was badly injured by one of theirs, in a challenge that was grossly reckless whether or not malice was involved (and I accept it probably wasn’t). I wonder whether Ramsey feels being booed at every touch is merely “about sticking 2 fingers up to the media and the Arsenal bandwagon”

    http://oatcakefanzine.proboards.com/thread/254813/sunderland-fans-view-stoke-city#ixzz41wu98IAK

      • Sorry, I meant ‘harmless 50-50’. Yes, I did see it, as mentioned already! And if I am correct, no one outside Stoke disputes the consequences. Read up and you’ll see I accept no malice, but reckless it was.

        But here’s a challenge. You feel the world has it wrong. Salut! Sunderland will published your reasoned 600-word account of how that has come about and why. Genuine offer. You can even rationalise the booing of Ramsey that others find so despicable. Over to you …

      • Don’t bother Richard. You’ll just end up being called a Neanderthal and worse yourself, whatever you argue. I know this from personal experience unfortunately. Your association with Stoke will be enough for some people on here to call you every name under the sun with the tacit approval of the site’s owner.

        The same obviously does not apply to Sunderland fans and their club.

      • Mark: I thought we’d made up! If you call, I asked for your consent to reproduce your noble, moving tribute to Stephen Foster, which duly appeared at https://safc.blog/2011/09/safc-v-stoke-can-wait-first-a-tribute-to-winger/ with my introduction: “Mark Eltringham and Salut! Sunderland fell out a little last season in the testy aftermath of the game at the Britannia when opinions on the way Stoke played differed, shall we say, according to who you supported. All very petty in retrospect, a retrospect sharpened by the untimely death of another Stoke fan Stephen Foster (pictured).”

        I do genuinely struggle to see a defence for the booing of Ramsey, whatever your view of the Shawcross challenge or Wenger’s attitude to it and/or Stoke City. I’d welcome a piece that rationalises it and deals with the other issues raised by Pete Sixsmith’s good-humoured piece above, which I suggested to him after hearing his radio comments.

  5. Good piece, but a few points made need to be made.

    1. You mention the ‘Neanderthal treatment of Aaron Ramsey’ but that makes no sense. The club has treated the player well, It’s Arsenal and a minority of Stoke fans that have fuelled the situation.

    2. Players like Delap, Higginbotham, Sorensen, etc helped us to cement our place as a premier league club, Often ahead of Sunderland in the table.

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