Three friends from Stoke on Trent have come together to raise money for three charities by undertaking an 825 mile bike ride from Stoke on Trent to Erlangen in Germany.
Alex Findler, 32, from Fenton, Matt Kerr, 34, of Basford, and Mark Allman, 32, from Meir Park, hope to raise £3000 for Douglas MacMillan, The British Heart Foundation, and child bereavement charity 4Louis when they undertake the trip on 27 July.
The journey will take 11 days and will depart from Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium at 7am on 27 July and take in five countries – England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany – before finishing in Stoke on Trent’s twinned town Erlangen on 7 August.
Covering around 70 miles per day, the route will include 11 stop-off points – Northampton, London, Dover, Bruges, Antwerp, Maastricht, Düren, Koblenz, Mainz, Frankfurt, Wurzburg, and Erlangen – where the cyclists will make overnight stays to recuperate.
Organiser and participant Alex Findler said: “This came about as a result of us joking about on a night out and has since snowballed into the Stoke2Erlangen Charity Challenge.
“Initially we were only half serious about undertaking the trip but when someone suggested that we do it for charity, that’s when we decided to go all out and raise some much needed funds for charities that are close to our hearts.
“The charities themselves were chosen as each one has helped out with issues that have affected us personally in some way and so we thought we’d repay the favour and raise not only money but also awareness of the great work they do. It’d be great if people could get involved and help us reach our target total and beyond!”
The group has managed to secure donations and support from Stafford-based fixings manufacturer Scell-it® who has arranged accommodation for the riders along the route, and Tunstall-based Tile Mountain who has provided financial support and cycling apparel.
A dedicated JustGiving page has been created to collect donations at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stoke2erlangen and Stoke2Erlangen has also set up social media accounts for the challenge and will be posting updates throughout the duration of the journey – Twitter: @Stoke2Erlangen Instagram: @stoke2erlangen Facebook: facebook.com/Stoke2Erlangen
Buy it here: https://duckmagazine.bigcartel.com/products
Just £2, our pre-season printed issue features the following:
Another superb Joe B cover
An interview with a difference: We chat to Harry Souttar’s mum about family life in Scotland and having two sons who play international football. And how much they eat!
Watching and meeting Ricardo Fuller in Nantwich
Stoke City’s identity – do we have one now?
Orfy’s diary of the season. Thankfully, the last one ended two months ago.
The Roy Vernon biography
From cradle to grave: Martin Convey and his love of The Potters
Orfy reviews the 2018/19 season and looks forward to this upcoming one.
Love is noise: The new kids on the block (36)
Utch Stokie sticks up for those who can’t or don’t go to games
Trickett: Accrington’s finest brand. Great people, too.
Lovely ale in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
……and loads more
GET IT HERE: https://duckmagazine.bigcartel.com/products
Over ten years and stone ago, me and my mate Brad ventured over the A53 to Buxton. Our destination was the Opera House where Frank Sidebottom, Charlie Chuck and John Cooper Clarke were in town.
It was a Saturday night, and a few hours earlier, The Potters had kicked sand in Arsenal faces at the Britannia Stadium. It was the afternoon of Van Persie’s red card, Rory’s long throw and Seyi Olofinjana bundling the ball into the net for the winner after virtually falling on the ball. We were in high spirits to say the least, and Tony Pulis quoting Abraham Lincoln after the game was the start of a surreal few hours…….
I’d obviously heard of John Cooper Clarke, of course I had. Everyone has probably heard the delights of ‘Evidently chicken town’ at least once in their lives, surely? But Brad was a big fan of his and assured me he’d be brilliant and I’d love him. I did.
‘Punk poet’ and ‘People’s poet’ are just two of the tags that have been used to describe John Cooper Clarke. ‘A really clever and dead sharp and funny bloke’ I don’t think has ever stuck – but that’s exactly what he is. And now, he’s appearing in our fair city, next Thursday night, at the Victoria Hall, as part of a 42 date tour. He’ll be ace, and if you have nothing on, then I’d be heading over to somewhere like The Coachmakers or Bottlecraft for a couple of lovely ales before wandering over to see just why John Cooper Clarke enlivened my night in Buxton all those years ago.
With new stuff from his first collection in 30 years – The Luckiest Guy Alive’ – intermingled in with the classics, you’ll find a man with an earthiness to him that you can’t help but like. And he’s performing in a simply great venue, too. His work focuses on the ‘normal’ and the ‘everyday’ – but is dark and dry, and anything but.
“We never get much in Stoke, do we?” That’s been changing in recent times. Here’s another example.
John Cooper Clarke Thursday 23rd May Victoria Hall, Hanley
Tickets from https://www.atgtickets.com/times/dr-john-cooper-clarke/victoria-hall/2019-05-23 or call 020 7206 1179
It’s not often Stoke’s team of bits and pieces go a goal down twice against the league leaders and come back. But they did.
Norwich swarmed forward passing and shooting at speed, mostly just off target. Jack dealt with it till Onel Hernandez – is he the only Cuban-born EFL player? – a squirming nuisance of a winger, built like a pitbull, shot inside the area and possibly unsighted, only got a weak hand to it. Hernandez seemed about to celebrate in front of the Boothen but thinking this might not be a good idea veered off towards the corner flag and his tracksuited team mates. He was roundly booed for the rest of the game.
Norwich’s noisy Yellow Wall got even noisier.
Clucas headed miles over from a good position. Krul wasn’t busy. An ominous silence was settling over the rest of the ground. There were some boos at the interval. Not Bovril weather but we needed to sup something!
Then, surprise! Total turnaround. Norwich were still busy and dangerous but so were we. Ashley Williams was left free at a corner. Krul got a hand to it – but in it went. And it continued, both sides attacking till Pukki, who has scored lots of goals after failing at Celtic, found himself all alone to deflect Vranic’s delicate cross past a furious Butland. Ashley held his head in his hands.
‘We’re gonna win the league’ from the Yellow Wall.
Round the rest of the ground, a slow chant began, ‘Oh,when the reds…’ It built to a crescendo when Tom Edwards shot hard across Krul into the far corner. Now the chant was ‘He’s one of our own’. And it went on till five minutes of added time were up. Stoke defending in numbers and lobbing long balls in the general direction of Afobe who brought them down, but was on his own. Tom went off injured to a Man of the Match reception.
A team to be proud of for half the game, Verlinden and Collins, as well as Edwards. Tyrese and Harry to come?
And ref Tony Harrington had a good game, calming down the hot heads without booking anyone. Roll on August!
But it wasn’t long before it was all-systems go, and electricity was in plentiful supply thanks to an excited crowd keen to re-enact their 1980’s years watching the teen musical.
But Fame The Musical is about far more than simply singing and dancing. It shows the diversity of the people that live in the city that never sleeps, and their various backgrounds, lifestyles, romances, dreams, and heartaches. But whilst it does have its serious moments that touch on some of the darker elements of life, this production is fun, and packed with a number of humorous moments.
Featuring former Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter as Iris and talent show runner-up Keith Jack as Nick, the show has a youthful exuberance that is true to the original. But it’s soul singer Mica Paris who is the star of the show for me, as she dominates the stage playing Headteacher, Miss Sherman, and her rendition of ‘These are my children’ is worth the entrance fee alone. It’s loud, it’s bright and sharp, and at times, breathless, thanks to props and stage scenes ever-changing; but for all of this, it’s Mica Paris’ voice and persona that is the standout tonight.
Fame The Musical is well worth a visit up ‘Anley (duck), but is it as good as the original film or TV series? Possibly not, as I wasn’t into the characters as much as I was almost four decades ago, although Molly McGuire as Serena and the aforementioned Mica Paris’ Miss Sherman were big exceptions to this. But perhaps that’s just grumpy, pining-for-the-good-old-days, middle-aged me? Because afterwards, we walked back up Piccadilly singing the theme tune – and isn’t that exactly what you want from a slice of this musical Big Apple pie?
Fame The Musical runs at the Regent Theatre up to and including Saturday 20th April
For ticket details call 0844 871 7615 or go to https://beta.atgtickets.com/times/fame-the-musical/regent-theatre/
One of only two limited edition framed Andy Wilkinson Testimonial Card sets that has been signed by the players who appeared on that special night. This is truly a stunning collectors item.
I’d seen War Horse in the bright lights of London’s West End a few years ago and thought it was superb. So, venturing up Hanley (duck) tonight, I kind of knew what to expect and just how good it would be as it made its merry way to The Potteries.
I was wrong.
The cramped, atmospheric surroundings of its London home made it a cosy-at-best, knees-red-raw-in-the-morning-at-worst experience for my husband at well over six feet tall, and even for me – a few inches shorter – I felt like an overplayed accordion by the end of the evening. Yet here, in the ample leg-roomed majesty of The Regent, the impossible became possible. War Horse was actually even better than when I’d seen it before!
Following 8 record-record breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, I watched the National Theatre’s acclaimed play on the first of it’s 10 day/night run in our lovely city…..
Michael Morpurgo’s classic novel is turned into a spellbinding riot of noise and visuals that batter at any senses that are left after your ride on the emotional rollercoaster that War Horse truly is. It’s basically a love story; true, unbridled (geddit?) and unequivocal friendship between a sixteen year old lad and his horse, set during the First World War.
The horses and other animals are the stars of the show. The puppetry is quite simply breathtaking. Indeed, they seem uncannily real in movement and mood. They may be puppets, but this wasn’t Punch and Judy or Kermit and Miss Piggy: this was striking and inspirational stuff on a grand scale. The horses are quite simply unbelievable. An event in themselves. Add on amazing sound, lighting and animated projections and I doubt you won’t be gobsmacked when you see it for the first time. Or second.
Indeed, at times it seems less a theatrical experience: it’s more of a concert or an event. It’s simply a huge, massive thing.
The city centre has had some wonderful stuff on in recent weeks: concerts by James and the Sleaford Mods went ballistic, and tomorrow I’m off to listen to Dave Haslam and Colin Curtis talk about their dj-ing careers. It’s things like the above, and getting the likes of War Horse here, that will get this city, our city, back firmly on the cultural map. My advice is simply to get yourself a ticket for War Horse before it gallops away from ST1 in 9 days time.
War Horse runs at the Regent Theatre up to and including Saturday 6th April.
For ticket details call 0844 871 7615 or go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/war-horse/regent-theatre/
Only a fiver including free p&p.
Limited numbers left.
Order in the BUY section of this website
We’re celebrating the start of the 2019 season at Alton Towers Resort and the launch of the Alton Towers Dungeon!
We’ve teamed up with Alton Towers Resort to give away 2 Premium Season Passes, which include Theme Park entry throughout the 2019 season along with the brand new Alton Towers Dungeon launching 23rd March! Win one for you and a mate!
HOW TO ENTER
1. Follow both @DUCKmagstoke and @altontowers on Twitter
2. Read the info below and send us at @DUCKmagstoke the answer to the question by direct message on Twitter.
3. Winner drawn 8pm Friday 22nd March 2019
For all information regarding Alton Towers Premium Season Pass, please visit: https://www.altontowers.com/tickets/season-pass/
Valid for entry until the end of the 2019 season
Exclusion dates: Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays in August, our Fireworks special events
Not valid on Theme Park closed days, see our calendar here:
Each pass will have a photo & name on, so can’t be shared with someone else
Unleash the ‘Power of the Towers’ this year as you share joy, laughter and thrills with family and friends at Britain’s Greatest Escape! Dare you add a visit to the new Alton Towers Dungeon* where you can laugh and scream as you journey through Staffordshire’s darkest history, plus enjoy an awesome choice of world-class rollercoasters including Wicker Man, Nemesis, Oblivion and The Smiler and a host of fantastic family attractions including the brand new ‘Peter RabbitTM Hippity Hop’ ride etc…………
To enjoy the scary fun of the Alton Towers Dungeon again and again, as well as over 40 more breath taking rides and attractions including Wicker Man, buy an Alton Towers Premium Season Pass for just £70: pay for a day, and come back for free all season. (exclusion dates apply) The Season Pass at just £56 is another fantastic way to experience the Power of the Towers, allowing days and days of fun during 2019. As an added bonus, all Season Pass holders will always be the first to know about the very latest news, with special offers and updates straight to their inbox!
For more information about Alton Towers Resort or to book your fantastic escape, please visit www.altontowers.com
Today is six years ago (to the day – 24/11/2012) since my dad passed away. I can’t even say if the time has passed slowly or quickly. It’s just passed. And the pain actually has got worse over time. For me, this article is my way of remembering him and saying thank you. Because I never really did when he was here.
I make no apologies that every year this goes on our website and that I put it out on social media: I’m proud to have had him as my father. I won’t ever hide that.
The old man has six grandchildren (who he did get to see whilst alive), and he’d have been in his element watching them growing up, but sometimes that’s not to be, is it?
Every now and then, I look over to block 23 at the bet365 Stadium to where we sat. I probably should look over there a bit more often, to be honest. And sometimes I drive past where the Michelin Athletic Club used to stand, The Gardeners Retreat, and down Campbell road – and remember some of the best times of my life: going to watch Stoke with dad.
As soon as I got back from the ground, six years ago on that day, after our home game against Fulham, I remember getting a phone call from my aunty telling me that my dad had had a heart attack. He’d sadly left us by the time I got to his bed side. I wrote these words a few hours later. These will always be my final words that I never really got to say…….
“Unlike most football fans, I can’t really remember my first Stoke game. My first clear memories of watching us were against Middlesbrough at Vale Park and then having a season ticket in 1977 in the Butler Street Stand. Relegation, inevitably, soon followed.
So, basically, I was introduced to the Potters after a visit to our rivals ground and then being forced to sit in probably the only roofless stand in Britain at that time, and watch us go down……….But am I grateful that my old man grasped my 8 year old hand all those years ago and walked me to those turnstiles? What a daft, rhetorical question, eh?
Fathers are all too often the Nigel Gleghorn (or Glenn Whelan in new money) of families – they do lots of unseen work that always needs doing; they rarely get the adoration they deserve; often steering the ship in the right direction; they have a quiet, unassuming style all of their own, and rarely let anyone down.
That was Peter William Bunn. And I will always now have the stomach-churning task of writing about him in a different tense.
Because dad sadly passed away on 24th November 2012, just an hour after watching the club he worshiped beat Fulham 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium. That he did so at exactly 5.59pm, just as Praise and Grumble was finishing, isn’t just ironic, it’s fate. Talking about Stoke City was one of life’s joys for dad. He also loved listening to the post-match Radio Stoke show.
It’s also fate, not irony, that he was aged 72 when he died. It simply couldn’t be any other number, could it?
Add onto the fact that he went quickly, and relatively painlessly, to sleep on the shoulder of his very best mate, Terry (my uncle, who was driving at the time), and that they were within a Greenhoff volley or Sir Stan mazy dribble of the Victoria Ground, simply makes me smile and actually think that if Carlsberg did ways to pass away……
Perhaps I’m looking for fate when there’s simply none there?
But whilst football is never ever “more than life or death”, it gives me huge comfort that dad passed away on such a seamlessly brilliant Stoke City Saturday afternoon.
The analogy with Nigel Gleghorn was given careful thought. He was a player my father admired – a flashback to players who loved their football, with a wand of a left foot, and one who always seemed grateful to be playing the working man’s ballet and to be playing for Stoke City. He also scored a most memorable goal in front of me and my father – no, not our second at Vale Park or against Plymouth at the Victoria Ground to seal the deal on promotion in 1993.
It involved another Victoria – this time it was Victoria Park, the home of Hartlepool United. It’s one of my favourite awaydays of all time and dad can be vividly, easily seen on the telly on Central Sport a day or two later– to the right of the goal, jumping up and down as the 90th minute corner came in, not in anticipation of Gleghorn’s late winner, but because his bladder was about to explode thanks to his pre-match refreshments, after an unbelievable Usain Bolt-like sprint from coach to public house at 2.25pm!
It had to be in that 92/93 season, didn’t it? So many great memories, so many days when me, dad, Terry, Brad, Owen, Andy, Tim and a few others I can’t remember right now, would descend on football grounds the country over, watching Lou Macari’s team.
That day, for some reason, it was just me and dad. The 20th December 1992……..a dad and his son celebrating their team’s last minute winner, together, on the road to promotion, stood on an open terrace. Just before Christmas. Heaven.
No-one was prouder of Stoke City or Stoke-on-Trent than Peter William Bunn. When on holiday he’d nearly always be spotted in a Stoke sweatshirt or t-shirt, it was like a privilege, a badge of honour for him to wear it. He saw it as almost ‘representing’ his city and club in foreign climes. The Cultural Attaché for Sneyd Green, I suppose.
His love of all things Stoke was amazing. I vividly remember Wembley in 2000, and after beating Bristol City 2-1 in the final, we giddily went back to Harrow-on-the-Hill where our buses were parked.
We went into a huge pub, full of Arsenal fans watching their team’s live game at Leeds. As we flooded into the pub – high on winning a trophy, no matter how small – we were given the usual “small club, northern idiots” jibes from the deluded, self-admiring, self-loving Gunners, looking right down their noses as we entered.
Half an hour later, as the coaches were due to leave on the journey back to The Potteries. Dad had had enough.
“Sorry, but I’m not letting them run Stoke down. Back me up, lads”, he announced.
Then, as the assembled Stokies prepared to depart, and at the tender age of 60, he stood, arms outstretched, perched on a chair, and shushed the pub before leading a huge, proud ‘Delilah’ that finally shut those of an Arsenal persuasion firmly up.
Although his Ashes are scattered at the bet365 Stadium – and by the way, the club were and still are absolutely brilliant with the logistics of this and his now redundant season ticket – his heart and soul will forever remain with his family, and at the Victoria Ground.
Dad never really took to our new ground……
For him, the lack of a proper matchday routine was never really replaced, even after 15 years at our new stadium. Dad’s routine was drinking in the Gardeners Retreat or Michelin Club, both close to Campbell Road, and a five minute brisk stroll at 2.40pm to the ground: Campbell Road – Nicholls Street – Lime Street. He loved holding court with tales like when Sir Stan left the ball by the corner flag and headed backj to the halfway line as his marker also left the ball there and simply following him, or the time he kept a pub near Buxton from rioting at closing time as the assembled Stokies wanted to see the FA Cup semi final goals on the telly on their way back from Hillsborough after we were robbed against Arsenal.
I hope the tales he told were true, but if they weren’t, we loved listening to them anyway: How he came back from Ajax in the UEFA Cup so late that he and his mates simply went straight to Stoke’s next game; or how he moved his wedding day to a Sunday to avoid a cricket match; and how he got a lift home on the team bus (and drank ale with the players) after his transport conked out on the way home from Spurs in the 70’s (all of those are definitely true, by the way!).
He told his tales time and again, but it didn’t matter. Our group loved nursing a pint of Pedigree and watching the glint in his eye as he told them.
Proper Werther’s Original stuff.
But strangely, what makes him unique is that he’s just like any one of us.
Sounds daft that, yeah, but does anyone who doesn’t follow their football club truly know what it means to belong to something so special? How can they ever replace taking their kid to watch their city’s football club? How do they ever feel what we feel? Can their bond with their father ever be as emotionally watertight as ours is with our fathers who support the stripes?
I don’t really know. I’m eternally grateful that I don’t.
All I do know is that me and my brother probably only now realise what we had and what we’ve lost, and that it would be a dream to be even half the dad he was, to our own kids. The hundreds of Stoke games we watched together and the hundreds of times he watched us, his lads, play football and cricket seem to have decreased in number as advancing years and grey hairs dim the memory. But deep down, we know he was always there, and for the last five years we somehow got used to the idea that he no longer is.
But isn’t life also about what you leave behind?
If so, this proud man, that me and my brother were honoured to call ‘dad’, has left something of more value than any lump sum of money ever could – he left us with the same standards as he had, a love of sport and the friendships this brings, and he left us to truly cherish our families. He did so in a beautifully understated manner, too. He never really moaned or shouted. Good men don’t have to, do they? He was a true man of the Potteries, and a proud Potteries man.
For me, my football club is part of my family – it’s such an integral part of who I am, and it was to dad, too. That’s why, at 12.01am November 25th 2012, – I wanted it to be the day after his death – I posted about my father’s passing on The Oatcake Messageboard.
I still don’t know truly why, to be honest, it’s just that dad’s family always seemed to include every single Stoke fan. The 11,000+ views and hundreds of messages meant more than anything to me and my family. Blokes who had been the game with dad in the 1950’s onwards contacted us; strangers who knew of dad and had funny stories emailed me; even Port Vale fans set up a thread on their own messageboard, which was a fantastic gesture.
What it means, and this is so clichéd I know, is that those who watch football really are one family. We feel what everyone else feels, we drink from the same cup, no matter the strip we wear. Whilst staunchly parochial, we all have a respect and give a knowing doff of the cap to those who go through the good and dreadful times following a football club.
That bloody day in 2012: Fenton Bowling Club before the game – watching Stoke win alongside his best mate – three generations of the Bunn’s there at the game that day – going to sleep on his best mate – and 72, that beautiful, beautiful number, 72: It was scripted by the footballing Gods, dad, wasn’t it?
Whilst it turns my stomach to know he’s no longer here, it swells my heart to know that he went on his own terms and how many of us wouldn’t want to go like that, eh? I can’t believe I won’t see him in his SCFC manager’s benchcoat (or Henri Lloyd jacket that my brother gave him – pictured here), ever again, but he’ll always be there, walking with us to the ground come sun, rain, snow, wind or whatever the weather throws at us. A truly wonderful Stokie.
That my dad got to walk down, well, shuffled down as he wasn’t brilliant on his feet for some time, Wembley Way with his family on May 14th, 2011 now means everything to me. That we didn’t win hurts, but it would have hurt more if we’d have won and he wasn’t there! Because even if we win the FA Cup one glorious day, it will never really mean the same without dad being present: standing still, huge beaming smile, and holding his arms high in the air when we scored, as he always did as utter carnage reigned around him.
Nothing ever phased a man who taught me that swimming in the invigoratingly freezing seas around the beautiful Lleyn Peninsular in North Wales was one of the most life-affirming things that you could ever do. And whilst his ashes reside behind the goal at the bet365 Stadium level with where he sat (and I pray that he’s now shouting grief at the QPR keeper and haunting the referee today), a huge part of his soul and his heart will always be in one small, perfect corner of North Wales, a place where he simply adored. We all did. As we adored him.
Mere memories aren’t enough, they never are. But they have to suffice as he’s not here now. I pray he knew how much he was loved, but being a bloke I rarely said it enough when it was needed and necessary.
I hope he could hear me as I stood by him, stroking his soft, perfectly combed grey hair as he lay motionless, looking serenely at peace with the world, on that dreadful Saturday night at the hospital. “We won dad, we won”, I kept muttering. He knew.
The final words?
They really do have to be from the most poignant, beautiful and apt football song ever written, don’t they? A song that he actually sung on way back in 72, and one that simply sums up what I’ve written above:
“We’ll be with you every step along the way. We’ll be with you, by your side we’ll always stay.”
Love you, dad. God bless.