Here you can find the various interviews I’ve done with people involved with and supporters of the Mighty Potters – Stoke City…
Andrew Johnson author of the excellent book on Stoke’s promotion winning season ‘Tie Me To The Mast’
Mark Holmes who runs the Stoke pages on Teamtalk
Martin Spinks who covers Stoke for the ‘Evening Sentinel’
Graham McGarry who heads the sports team on Radio Stoke
Author of ‘She Stood Their Laughing’ (and there is a follow-up due next year) Stephen Foster
…and here is the latest interview…
James Knowles is the author of ‘Back Where We Belong’ which looks at Stoke’s promotion into the Premiership last season complete with plenty of photographs detailing our historic return to top flight football. It is another ‘must have’ for any self-respecting Stoke fan.
How did you come to support Stoke City?
It was all my Dad’s ‘fault’. I was born in Lancashire but, thankfully, rather than being taken to Old Trafford, I was taken to the glorious Victoria Ground. My lifelong supporting Dad kept his fingers crossed that I would follow in his footsteps and having seen us beat the mighty Mansfield Town 4-0, I was hooked!
What have been the highlights and lowlights during your time supporting Stoke?
The highlight came on 4 May 2008 when we gloriously gained promotion. The joy and pride as I stood on the hallowed turf that day is a moment I shall cherish for the rest of my life. As a Stoke fan, there are always low moments. The 7-0 defeat at home to Birmingham was awful and the second half of the season under the one dimensional Brian Little was appalling.
How did you go about writing ‘Back Where We Belong’ and have you been pleased with the reviews & fellow Stoke fans reactions so far? Any chance you may do a follow-up covering this season?
At the start of the 2007/2008 season I began writing 150 words as a ‘fans view’ for The Sentinel after every match. In January (on the way back from Charlton) it was suggested I should write a book on my experiences of the season. I accepted the challenge and decided that whatever the outcome of the campaign, I would publish the book. Thankfully (and memorably) we obviously won promotion.
Sales of the book have been steady so far and the feedback I have received has been positive. Due to extortionate shipping costs, no shops currently stock the book so it has been down to me to entirely self promote the publication. A book signing in Hanley alongside Denis Smith, Alan Hudson, David Lee (who has organised it) and David Johnson on October 18th will hopefully accelerate sales.
Will there be a follow up? I am currently writing a sequel but whether it will be seen by the eyes of others depends on what the lads on the pitch do. If we fall through the trap door I can’t imagine too many people queuing up for it!!
Back Where We Belong is available (signed) for £12.99 (plus P & P) through 07840 591493 and email@example.com
What do you think of Pulis’s new signings so far and do you think we have a strong enough squad at least until the January transfer window?
Abdoulaye Faye is rapidly turning into the steal of the summer. He has been a rock so far. Despite a shaky start, Sorensen is beginning to put in displays that show why he has been at the top level for so long. The big summer signing, Kitson, is playing too deep (whether that is the manager or the player remains to be proven). If he is given a run as an out and out striker I think we will see the best of him.
The other new boys have slotted in well but we need to strengthen in January. We lack any pace in our side and are far too reliant on Delap’s brilliant long throw. If Rory was to pick up another bad injury then you fear that our season may well be over.
Has our start to the season met your expectations or been worse than you expected?
There is a lot of doom and gloom at the moment but I think that is more to do with the fact we are competing so well. We have been ever so close to every team on the pitch (perhaps with the exception of European Cup runners up Chelsea). Another win could well set us on our way. The league hasn’t been quite up to the standard I was expecting and I am confident we can stay in for at least another year.
Your top five best and worst players you have seen in a Stoke shirt and why…
Mark Stein- He truly was the ‘Golden One’
Peter Hoekstra- Although we didn’t see much of him, he was clearly blessed with tremendous talent. If he wasn’t so injury prone he would never have pulled on a Stoke shirt
Sergei Shtaniuk- I loved Sergei. Nothing got past him. He could have easily cut it in the Premier League.
Ricardo Fuller- He frustrates the hell out of me at times, but the skill Ric possesses is a great weapon to have in your team.
Kevin Keen- A great player who was a tremendous servant. The best thing Megson did in his short time was re-sign Keeno.
Where do we start?!
Gordon Marshall- Thankfully only lasted ten games but he was a truly dreadful signing.
Jeff Whitley- A panic signing by Pulis and his terrible performances left me panicking every time he went near the ball!
Keith Scott- How we swapped Sheron for him is anyone’s guess. Cheers Mr O’Neill!
Paul Williams- After a couple of decent outings it soon became apparent that Willo was past his sell by date. A decent fella but sadly that doesn’t make you a good player.
Lee Collins- The centre back signed on a free from Villa and only made four appearances. The fact his debut game in a 2-0 loss away at NINE man Millwall says it all!
How did you feel when we won promotion into the Premiership and which were your player(s) of the season?
To be honest, it was the best moment of my life. Even if we only last one season up here to say we did it is a magnificent achievement. What does seem rather surreal is the amount of media attention we now attract.
The players of the season? Hmmm, Lawrence swept the board with the awards but for me Delap’s contribution (not just with his long throws) in the second half of the campaign was pivotal. A special mention also for Mr Fuller.