For many Stoke fans around the world, game day doesn’t involve a trip to the Brit, long coach rides to see the team play away, or even a few pre-match oatcakes. For many, the chance to see the club live or sing along to ‘Delilah’ or “Ma Ma Ma Marc Muniesa…” still remains the stuff of dreams and bucket lists.
Despite the distance, here’s a look at how a few fellow Stoke fans around the world do their best to follow their favourite team on game day…
Michael Forbes, Canada
I may be over 5,500 kilometres away from the Brit but I do my best to watch every Stoke game that I can. Stoke have about 15 to 20 games televised each season over here, usually home and away against the bigger clubs. It’s often games against the likes of Sunderland and the newly promoted teams that aren’t on offer.
So far this season, the Bournemouth match has been the only one that wasn’t televised. Six for seven, in terms of coverage, is a great start for the season — if only we could say the same for the team’s performance to date…
There aren’t many, if any Stoke fans in Toronto. I’ve only seen one Stoke shirt since the team was promoted – an older gentleman in a Huth jersey at a TFC game. There are no Stoke bars or pubs to go to, so I watch all the games from my couch, the last vestiges of my morning coffee in my Stoke mug.
As a stereotypical Canadian, I play ice hockey each Saturday morning at 6:30. I’m off the ice and home by 9 AM, which means I have an hour until kick-off.
I’m not the superstitious type, but I do try to wear a piece of kit when the game is on – a Stoke t-shirt, scarf or hat. If the team goes on a win streak, I’ll continue to wear the same kit week after week in hopes of bringing them a little luck. In Hughes’ first season, my daughter made me a red and white striped bracelet out of thread. The team went on a hot streak and I refused to take it off until after the last game of the season.
The game usually wraps at noon, leaving me the rest of the day to search out recaps and delight in a big win, or to stew and avoid the coverage after a loss. Sunday games are my favourite. Dinner always tastes better when your team wins.
Mark Deaville, Japan
In Japan, the average 3pm kick off happens at 11pm or midnight (depending on daylight saving in England).
I worked on Saturdays until 6:30pm, which left ample time to go out for a pint with mates in Yokohama before getting the train home in time to watch the match. I only had terrestrial TV so I relied on free internet streams. I ended up watching more of Stoke from Japan than I did in the years prior to moving there as I used to work on Saturdays in Hanley. The only negative was Sunday mornings: I’d be on the train to work at 8:30am as everyone back in England was settling down to watch Match of the Day.
Only a few times in four years did I manage to watch Stoke in bars. Twice was with an Arsenal supporting mate when we played them in early kick offs. One of the pubs filled up with Japanese businessmen types. Nothing unusual about that in Tokyo, but when I looked round again they’d all stripped off their business attire to reveal Arsenal shirts! It made for a tasty atmosphere if nothing else as me and my one Stoke mate gave as good as we got.
The other time was the FA Cup Semi Final against Bolton. The pub was pretty quiet with a few people watching Arsenal v Liverpool on the big screen while me, my Stoke mate, and a Bolton supporter sat up the corner by the small screen. That poor bloke must have got sick of our mentals as each goal went in. The staff in there thought it was brilliant. I then had to commute 2 and a half hours to work then next morning with a stinking hangover.
John Holmes, Thailand
I have supported Stoke City since 1961. I was 9 years old when Sir Stan came back from Blackpool. I watch every game here in Thailand. They’re usually on at 9pm on the weekend and 1:45am for mid-week games. The time change adds an extra hour making it a 7 hour difference, but I still stay up to watch the midweek games. I’ve never missed a match since the side was promoted to the Premier League.
Here in Thailand, the Premier League used to be on Truevision but CTH got the television rights. This meant I had to pay another 1000 baht per month to watch Stoke city (about £18) but it’s worth it. I have a few superstitions – I always set my screensaver to the skeleton head, which sounds stupid but have always used this saver. I also never wear my Stoke top in the house when watching the game. I also shut the door, close the curtains and switch my mobile off. It sounds daft but we all have our ways of willing the team to win.
Australia is either 9 or 10 hours ahead of the UK, so kick-off is late regardless (a 3pm kick off is usually about midnight or 1am, depending on Daylight Saving Time or otherwise)
I subscribe to Foxtel so I’m able to watch all Stoke’s games live on TV. I don’t have any game day rituals or superstitions, but I did at one stage make a pact with myself NOT to watch any away games because our record was so poor, and I couldn’t see much point in staying awake until 2 or 3am just to watch them get spanked.
That pact didn’t last long as I couldn’t help myself, and simply had to watch, just like passers-by at a car accident
Having lived here for decades – I came here before we won the League Cup in 1972 – I never miss an opportunity to watch our lads play, and I took the opportunity to catch them in Singapore when they played in the Barclays Asian Trophy!
I was lucky enough to meet up with a number of ‘Oatcakers’ and other rabid Stokies while I was over there, and I was so pleased I made the trip even though it was in jeopardy when I ran over my foot with a lawn mower a few weeks before!
Just like a daft teenage fan, I have a photo of Ryan Shawcross and me fixed to the partition next to my desk at work.