Vital Stoke Interviews: Chris Devine
Tom Mckeon: Hi Chris, firstly, before we delve into your thoughts on all things Stoke City - would you be kind enough to tell us a little bit about yourself? Purely because we`re really nosey here at Vital Stoke!
Chris Devine: I'm a journalist who works as a sub-editor and reporter for the England and Wales Cricket Board's Website. I also cover Championship football for Press Association Sport. Former season ticket holder now exiled in Howden in east Yorkshire.
TM: Lets start at the beginning, how did you become a Stoke fan, and what is your earliest memory as a Potter?
CD:I'm not honestly sure why I became a Stoke fan. My mates at school were pretty split between Stoke and the Vale and my parents weren't really fussed either way. I think I just liked the colour red as a little kid and that swung it!
I didn't start going regularly until I got my season ticket in 1998-99, but for some reason I have vivid memories of Nigel Worthington's own goal against Huddersfield at the Victoria Ground a couple of years earlier!
TM: Favourite current Stoke player?
CD: Hard to choose between Ryan Shawcross and Ricardo Fuller.
TM: Favourite all-time Stoke player/s?
CD: Peter Hoekstra - quite simply a genius.
TM: What did you make of last season?
CD: Very pleasing on the whole, particularly the cup run. The two games at Wembley were simply incredible, even if we didn't really turn up in the final. I never thought I'd see my team playing in games of that magnitude. When I first started watching us on a regular basis we were struggling in League One!
With the league campaign, it was a shame we missed out on a top-half place, having been eighth with a couple of games left. We were superb at times, particularly in the closing weeks of the season, but just paid for a lack of consistency.
TM: Who was your player of the season?
CD: Robert Huth was terrific, but my player of the season was undoubtedly Jon Walters. I was incredibly underwhelmed by his arrival and didn't expect him to make much of an impact, but he quickly settled in and was superb in the second half of the season. He would now be one of the first names on my teamsheet.
TM: What`s the most memorable moment in your Stoke supporting life?
CD:Hard to say, but the 5-0 win over Bolton at Wembley has probably leapt to the top of the queue. Watching us walk out onto the field for the final was pretty emotional as well.
Prior to that, it would have to be the League One play-off semi-final against Cardiff in 2002, and, of course, our draw with Leicester that saw us return to the top flight.
TM: We`ve been linked to plenty of names, but who do you want Pulis to sign?
CD:I know Carlton Cole gets plenty of stick, but I think he could do really well for us. We certainly need a forward or two! To be honest, I'm happy to trust Pulis. He's proved me wrong enough times in the past and his good signings comfortably outweigh the duds.
TM: I agree, signing top strikers is still beyond us and whilst he`s no world beater we`re desperate for a couple of forwards and Cole is proven! Moving on, who in the current squad would you least like to see sold? (Like that would happen, we`re not a selling club!)
CD: I'd hate to see Shawcross go, although I wouldn't be all that surprised to see him move on in the next 12-18 months. I think it's also vital we hang on to Etherington, Huth and Begovic - all three would be very difficult to replace.
TM: The new season`s only a couple of weeks away now, how do you think we will fare?
CD:Should a few new players arrive, as they usually do, I would expect us to challenge for a top-half finish once again. However, at this time of year I'm always wary of things going spectacularly wrong!
TM: If you could say one thing to our manager Tony Pulis, what would it be?
CD:'Thank you.' Some of his selections and tactics drive me up the wall at times, but it's hard to see how anyone could have done a better job over the last five years.
TM: Couldn't agree more, finally, where do you see Stoke City in five years time?
CD: Still in the Premier League - and hopefully with another trophy in the cabinet. It's been far too long!
TM:Many thanks for that Chris! Great responses there, if anyone else wants to take part in a Q&A then Twitter me @Tom_VitalStoke or contact our Editor Ryan Kalisz by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Opposition fans are also welcome!