Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday October 7 2007
I had a rant after the match against Plymouth two weeks ago and the poor showing amongst Stoke fans - only 12,533 with a reasonable showing from Plymouth fans. But yesterday's attendance was even worse with only 12,395 (including 300 or so U's fans) bothering to pay their money. If you take off the 9,000 or so season ticket holders, it means only around 3,000 extra Potters fans paid their money and went in through the turnstiles.
This for a team that's in fifth position compared to eighteenth place this time last year. Anyone who calls themselves a Stoke fan and could have gone, but hasn't bothered to turn up so far this season should be embarrassed.
Trawling through the various message-boards, you'll find all the usual excuses:
1. Don't like negative football
2. Don't like Pulis
3. Don't like Coates
4. Tickets are too expensive
5. No signings
6. Sold all our best players
and many others....
To those I'll answer:
1. Three wins and two draws out of five at home. Five Potters goals in the last two games alone.
2. What's he done so wrong? Saved us from near certain relegation in 2003, followed by two good seasons of consolidation with no money to spend, just missing out on a play-off place on the last day of last season and we're now even better placed than this time last year.
3. He was the only person willing to buy the club in 2006 and therefore, alledgely, saved the club from going into Administration. Has reportedly given the manager his 'largest ever transfer fund' this time around.
4. Ticket prices were reduced for the Barnsley match, but this resulted in virtually no increase in sales - effectively condemning the club to a bigger loss than if they had kept prices the same.
5. We've missed some players - that's not in question, but still signed Cresswell, Parkin, Wright (loan), Zakunai (loan), Craddock (loan, but did so well Wolves quickly had him back), De Laet and Phillips. Compare our performance to clubs like Sheffield United (who took Hendrie) and Cardiff (Fowler and Sinclair) - where are they currently in the league?
6. Russell requested a move for family reasons, Hoefkens was offered a new contract, but West Brom offered him three times his Stoke contract and there seems to have been a bit of (alleged) 'tapping up' going on there before the club were aware of an offer. Higginbotham was unlikely to turn down a chance of Premier League football. Contracts, these days, are hardly worth the paper they're written on - if a player wants to leave, he will do.
A caller to BBC Radio Stoke after Saturday's match made a good point - ''stay away' fans are running out of excuses or there must be a lot of decorating being done in the Potteries at the moment!'
These 'stay away' fans are no longer Potters' fans in my opinion - they're just people who did support Stoke City in the past, but now choose not to. If so, they should keep their opinion to themselves and stop doing the club down. If they want to moan and groan about the Potters they're fully entitled to do so - as long as they've paid their money at the turnstile first.
Date:Sunday October 7 2007
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