St Pauli – a Stoke fan visits The Millerntor

Posted on July 26th, 2017 by

millerntorSt Pauli – a Stoke fan visits The Millerntor

We can’t wait to go to St Pauli next week. And no, duck, we’ll go nowhere near The Reeperbahn!

Here is DAVE COWLISHAW reporting back on his recent visit to a club unlike many others. After that, we’ve also linked up an essential guide to Hamburg and St Pauli from an FC United lad we know. Enjoy.

Typical Stoke, typical me. That’s what I thought when we announced a friendly at the Millerntor, home of FC St. Pauli, two weeks after I’d booked a holiday to Hamburg.

Fortunately, any residual jealousy I felt for the Germany-bound Stokies managed to subside when I secured a ticket for St. Pauli’s friendly against Werder Bremen. Not Stoke, but it’ll do.

It’s hard to write about St. Pauli without falling into cliché, but if you’re unfamiliar with them, a quick overview. They play in the second tier of German football, have no real success to speak of, but are famous, with fans all around the world. Confused? Well, their popularity comes from their fans. St. Pauli are openly anti-fascist, anti-homophobia and anti-sexism, there’s a strong punk scene and they wave Jolly Roger flags from the stands.

There’s plenty of resources out there if you want to get to grips with their history, but suffice to say I was excited to be visiting a club I’d heard so much about.

St. Pauli is a club very much of it’s district and at the same time tremendously welcoming to their multitude of foreign visitors. Locals, spotting my shirt, stopped and chatted about Stoke – their new ‘footballing partners’. What also struck me was that there seemed to be a much higher proportion of female fans in the ground than at games in England. A combination of the friendly atmosphere, reasonable prices, good football, and plenty to do around the ground makes it possible for St. Pauli to be family-friendly and still have an ‘atmosphere’.

The ground, which has been recently expanded, is four stands with just over half of these being standing. It stands right in the middle of the St. Pauli district, no distance at all from the Reeperbahn if you’re into that sort of thing. Although far from the biggest ground, it is nonetheless imposing and is still very ‘St. Pauli’, with graffiti on the side of the ground, and messages of support for righteous causes everywhere – from the ‘Freedom for all Antifascist Prisoners’ banner behind the goal, to the hundreds of thousands of stickers that tell Nazis what they can do with themselves. Ironically, this shrine to football as a left-wing social force stands in the shadow of an immense Second World War anti-aircraft bunker.

Outside the ground was live music, and plenty of reasonably priced Currywurst (which is actually delicious) and Astra Pilsner – they love their local breweries in Germany, and Astra is a massive part of the St. Pauli scene. Even for a pre-season game, there was a busy, festival atmosphere and you could spot every kind of fan, from the old-school St. Pauli punks, to tourists like me, to Irish stag dos.

I had worried, that with my first visit being a friendly, I would only be underwhelmed. However, from the first clangs of ACDC’s Hell’s Bells (St. Pauli’s walkout music), I was hooked. The novelty of standing and drinking in the stands didn’t wear off. If I were old enough, I’d probably have described it as a throwback. Even something like goal music, which I’ve always considered rather tacky, felt right, when 20,000 St. Pauli supporters who-hoooooed along with Blur’s Song 2.

Fans were mixed together where we stood on the Gegengerade, and got along famously. The only downside in my eyes being the multitude of Werder fans in ‘Arnautovic 7’ shirts, but you can’t have everything I suppose. In the Jolly Roger pub after the game, fans from all around the world and wearing the shirts of various different clubs, drank outside and continued this brilliant spirit.

There is the question of whether St. Pauli’s commercial success, selling shirts all over the world, undercuts their punk/anti-capitalist ethos. Whilst that’s a story for a different time, it didn’t seem to matter to the St. Pauli fans at the game. Globalisation has meant St. Pauli has been able to open up, and there are fan groups in New York, Yorkshire and Toronto to name but a few.

The game itself? It was decent, the home side winning 2-1 against their top-flight opponents, but the game wasn’t the point. It was about experiencing a footballing culture so different to the Premier League. Here’s a club that is outwardly political, has standing, and allows fans to drink and smoke in full view of the pitch. It’s the antithesis of Scudamore’s version of football because it excludes nobody, and as such it simply wouldn’t catch on over here. Go book those flights!



FOR A BRILLIANT GUIDE TO HAMBURG AND ST PAULI, GO TO THIS WEBPAGE (Was written in 2011, but still loads of ace info and tips)




Posted on June 13th, 2017 by


Very rarely do you get to watch a quite brilliant game of association football at 11am on a Sunday. Indeed, that time of the week is usually a time for peeling spuds, taking dogs/kids for a walk, nursing a tender head, or possibly setting off for a day out somewhere.

And during football matches, rarely do I want a late equaliser against the team I want to win.

But that was the scenario on June 11th, as I sat with my youngest lad watching England v Venezuela in the Under 20’s World Cup Final. The game was that good, I simply wanted another half an hour of it, even though that would have cruelly denied the Young Lions a cup win.

Those who know me will know that I’m not fussed when it comes to watching England. Yes, I’d want ‘us’ to win, but it often leaves me cold, and I often get over even the biggest of losses in big games in minutes. Contrast that to watching Stoke City, and there’s a marked difference. It takes me all week to snap out of us losing. And you can insert your own “well you must be the most miserable sod on earth, then” joke right here.

I grew up as a kid in Sneyd Green, watching on the telly any number of our ‘supporters’ rampage their way around Europe and the world, ensuring that many who went for the football were fair prey in the eyes of those who sought retribution and revenge. It also meant I wasn’t fussed about the actual game, half the time. I’ve also seen us play what can only be described as, technically, some of the worst football going – this, whilst earning a king’s ransom to be played off the park by countries without a penny, yet who managed to string passes together.

Yup, international football isn’t anywhere near the top of my agenda.

But there was a refreshing naieivity about the England Under 20 team during their World Cup. That’s not to say that the coaching staff didn’t do a fantastic job, setting them up and tactically. They obviously did. But how brilliant I thought it was to see us shooting from distance in injury time of the final whilst 1-0 up, and bringing on attacking subs at 1-0 up, and being very, very open at 1-0 up. It was akin to a game of basketball.

Contrast that to the world-weary ex-pro and England international commentator who noted near the end that we should “take the yellow card there” and “manage the game”. Thankfully, it seems that risk taking hadn’t been drummed/coached out of these kids yet, and I sat there with my youngest lad marvelling at two teams having a right go at each other.

Two teams, trying to win a simply huge game of football. A few weeks earlier, we’d watch Huddersfield and Reading trying their best not to lose one. And therein lies the difference….

I can take Stoke or England losing. Christ, we’ve had enough practice at that, eh? But how many times have you left matches bemoaning us not even having a go? Remember those “bonus matches”? Those parked buses? Remember those hammerings at Oxford and Swindon?

I’m not saying go all gung-ho, as the very best players and teams will simply destroy you. But surely (and no disrespect here) an England team can go to Hampden Park and at least try to play better football than Scotland, rather than nicking a win? Is this what the billions of pounds that have floated round the English game since it was invented in 1992 has amounted to? Scraping a result here? Qualifying, only to then not have a go at the finals, there?

Sorry, and nothing personal here, but when we go to Hampden with a back four and two holding midfielders in front of them – that simply is nowhere near good enough. It’s a coward’s mentality, and ensures we only have four attacking players on the pitch – one of those being played out wide, and out of position.

Again, I’ll reiterate – I don’t want to see gung-ho, losing football matches in the process. But a balance must be struck, as we’re losing the important games anyway. If a group of teenagers can go out in the biggest game of their young careers and play with no fear, then I fully expect experienced professionals and those who coach/manage them, to do the same. That’s why I love Bojan in a Stoke shirt so much. Even when he plays poorly, and he has since he came back from his injury, he still plays with a forward-thinking mentality, and with joy in his boots.

No Video. Slideshow (Already uploaded). Sport. Leicester (Blue) v  Stoke (Red and white stripe). Second Half. Saturday 17th January 2015. Pictured: Krkic Bojan scores.


As much as I don’t like Arsene Wenger, I do agree with a comment he made a few years go, about what being ‘brave’ is on a football pitch. He talked about bravery being the ability to get on the ball, make things happen, take risks, expressing yourself, and that bravery isn’t about defending for ninety minutes and sticking your foot in. It’s not about just trying not to lose. It’s about doing your utmost to win. That’s why Spurs are so watchable. Again, there’s a balance to be struck between the two – and that’s possibly why Spurs are so Spursy – but with the money in the game surely there comes a responsibility to play with a little more joy than having Dier and Livermore shielding a back four, against a team ranked 61st in the FIFA rankings, with Blackburn’s centre half at the centre of their defence!

Perhaps the England Under 20’s did far more than win a World Cup? Perhaps they showed everyone why football really is a brilliant sport, and that you can win with a brilliant mentality?


Posted on June 1st, 2017 by


A bit like the Renegade Master, we’re back once again. Our first ever national football and football lifestyle magazine – DUCK UK – is out in just over two weeks time.

Based on the successful formula we’ve stumbled upon/have at DUCK magazine, this is a digital-only, FREE magazine that will me emailed out all over the UK and beyond.


So, what’s already in there?

I know what you did this summer Stoke City’s Marc Muniesa talks to us about his life in Barcelona and Lloret De Mar, getting married and stag do’s, spending the summer with his one year old lad, buying a new house, fitness training in Catalunya etc…..

Pre-season with the pro’s Tampa Bay Rowdies’ and ex-Wolves/PNE/Leeds United/Sheffield United and Scotland U21 international Neil Collins on the ‘delights’ of shuttle runs and beep tests.

The Offside Trust  Set up six months ago after British football was rocked by a series of high-profile revelations regarding child sexual abuse. Several former professional players bravely waived their right to anonymity to speak out about their past abuse. The Offside Trust is committed to supporting survivors and working to make sport safer for children. We are honoured they’ve sent us an article.

4Midable   4 of my favourite ever training shoes. You’ll disagree, but I won’t care.

AMP   A review of Depeche Mode live in Prague

The Bundesliga Experience We have a bloke at the Hertha BSC v Borussia Dortmund match

Inspired by Sport? Netball or football – which was the best option for taking your 14 year old daughter too?

It’s a gas  Money in football. Gravy train or groovy train?

One of 100 We like ace clothes, especially ace shirts. We also like Sauce & Brown. They make ace shirts. We ask them how and why they make ace shirts. Ace.

Lessons Learnt   Despite regularly wanting to stick mine on eBay, kids are great. You may want to read them this article though. They may thank you later.

ZZ Top   An homage to Zinedine Zidane. indeed, a homage does it a disservice. This is simply a brilliant article about an iconic talent.

Football and mental health   Why it’s no longer taboo in the game of 4-4-2.

Trainer Potter  How to clean trainers, and a focus on the adidas ZX700.

…….and pieces on Carlisle United, Whyteleafe FC, Swindon Town, and Stoke City. 

It might be the best thing to land in your infolder all Summer!



“There’s never any decent bands on in Stoke!”

Posted on May 11th, 2017 by

“There’s never any decent bands on in Stoke!”


How many times have you said the above over the last two decades?

It seems that during that time, many other cities of a similar size having been getting the concerts that we needed, wanted and deserved. And ask bands who play our great city what kind of crowd they get. The likes of Simple Minds were gobsmacked when a packed Victoria Hall was turned into what resembled an away end that had seen their team score a last minute winner!

But are the times a changin’?

Hopefully so, and the likes of The Exchange and The Sugarmill have done this city proud in recent times by putting on some great nights, some great DJ’s, and some great bands. And there’s another one on this Saturday…..

Readers of DUCK will know we love the Smoove & Turrell lads. GBOL, them. Anyway, long story short, I had tickets to see them twice last year, in December. One bad back and one bad car later, and that was that – I missed both gigs. So I did a bit of pleading on social media for the Geordie boys to get their backsides down to the Six Towns – and fair play to ’em – they’re here. THIS SATURDAY!

Any group that likes funk, soul, big coats, trainers, Clarks Originals, and football will always stand a good chance of getting in our good books. Thing is, this lot could dress like Crewe fans and we’d still go see them.

Not heard them yet?

Well, they’re a bit like Nile Rodgers joining the cast of Jossies Giants and Brand New Heavies: led by John Turrell’s  beautifully rich Michael MacDonald-on-20-Capstan-a-day vocals, and backed by a group with an ear for a hook bigger than those used on Wicked Tuna. This isn’t toe-tapping stuff. This is stuff that demands you get off your backside and head for the dancefloor. If you can shift Stone Island-clad, Clint Boon stuntdouble keyboard player Mike Porter off it first, that is!

S&T nod their head to soul, funk, jazz, northern soul and several other musical outposts, but retain a gritty northern sound about them at the same time. Want proof? Head, as most do, to Youtube: See ‘Could have been a lady’ off the new album for details. A huge groove and a cover of a Hot Chocolate hit,  that takes ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ for a night out in the Bigg Market and leaves it there up an alleyway.


Then listen to‘Glass’ – the torch song that ‘Fairytale of new York’ (a song I have always hated – dons tin hat) should have been. Just piano and voice. But what a piano, and what a voice.

It should be the law of the land that we beat those absolute whoppers from Arsenal at teatime and then everyone heads up to The Exchange for one of THE party nights of 2017. But we’ve bought our tickets, so even if we lose to that lot we’ll be crap-dad-dancing til the lads leave the stage anyway. Join us, laugh at us, and have an ace night for less than a tenner.

SMOOVE & TURRELL   the Exchange   Saturday 13th May  (hopefully around 9pm to give me time get from the match!)

Tickets are only £8 plus booking fee from:

Water Fool you’d be to miss this! – Appetite Causes a Splash with Spectacular Outdoor Show

Posted on April 2nd, 2017 by

Water Fool you’d be to miss this! – Appetite Causes a Splash with Spectacular Outdoor Show

SIRF Festival

 Don’t be tricked by the timing of this article, it may be April Fool’s Day but this is no joke. Appetite’s headline show for 2017, Water Fools, will take place entirely on water. Yes, the entire show will be performed on water!

Water Fools is an outstanding outdoor show that will be performed entirely on the lake at Central Forest Park. Performers walking on water, floating cars, bikes, and beds, almighty fireworks and astonishing original music will combine to create a dreamlike painting set against the unique backdrop of Stoke-on-Trent, and with no spoken word, the show is suitable for a wide range of people.

Since 2013 Appetite have being serving up a series of world-class performances for people to enjoy in Stoke-on-Trent and each year have brought a spectacular showcase event to the city, offering something completely different to local audiences. Over recent years Appetite’s showcase events have included the incredible contemporary circus show Bianco by NoFit State Circus, Wired Aerial Theatre’s As The World Tipped and The Bell by Periplum. Most recently The Enchanted Chandelier by French Company Transe Express came to town where musicians and performers dangled 50 metres in the sky.

This year they will endeavour to walk on water as the team behind Appetite continue to push themselves with a fresh challenge ensuring a truly unique experience for local people in Stoke-on-Trent. Gemma Thomas, Appetite Creative Producer explains, ‘This year we have the privilege of bringing the show “Water Fools” by Ilotopie to Central Forest Park. It’s a truly spectacular evening event, where the lake becomes a stage. It sounds incredible, and believe me, that’s because it is. This show is like nothing we’ve ever attempted to bring to Stoke-on-Trent before, but as always we are up for the challenge. We can’t wait to wow our audiences with this event and it will certainly be a highlight in this year’s cultural calendar.’

Dominique Noel, Artistic Director of the French company behind the show, Ilotopie says, ‘We spent time researching many water based locations in the area, so I got to know Stoke-on-Trent quite well. I even managed to get to the 6Towns Radio Awards and sampled some lovely Staffordshire Oatcakes too. We have performed Water Fools all over the world including Chicago, Moscow, Sydney, Buenos Aires and Singapore but we are so excited that we’ll be able to perform our unique show in this unique city. We have met some wonderful people in Stoke-on-Trent already so we’re very excited to share this magnificent performance with them”

Karl Greenwood, Appetite Project Director said: “Events like Water Fools coming to Stoke-on-Trent clearly demonstrates our big ambitions as a programme and as a city, showing a real belief and ability that we can deliver world-class events to a high standard and more importantly that local people really do want to see something out of the ordinary. As Stoke-on-Trent is gearing up to bid for the UK City of Culture in 2021, I strongly believe events like Water Fools cause ripples across the rest of the country and shine a big spotlight on the city to say look at what we’re doing here in Stoke-on-Trent”

Tickets go on sale today, with special Early Bird offers running through the month of April. Be aware that tickets are very limited and early booking is strongly advised to ensure you don’t miss this incredible outdoor show on water.

To find out more about Water Fools visit

Standard adult tickets start from £8.95 in advance and a range of Early Bird offers, concessions and group discounts are available. Tickets can be booked online at or by telephoning New Vic Theatre Box Office on 01782 717 962.







Posted on March 31st, 2017 by



It’s 4 years almost to the day when Paul left us far, far too early…..
It’s almost 25 years to the day he sent us to Wembley…..
Joe Barbieri pulls all the stops out on the amazing cover, and inside we have six pages devoted to Warey from the likes of Steino, Cranny, other ex players, Stoke fans, and most importantly – his family.

Also inside,

4MIDABLE: We asked Stokies for their best 4 on Twitter: Best SCFC goalkeeper; Best SCFC defender; Best SCFC midfielder; Best SCFC striker.

A LEAGUE OF MY OWN: Here’s the selection of DUCK reader Paul Ruane, a Stokie who goes to watch Stoke play literally anywhere and everywhere. And who likes his (proper) ale……

THE YOUTH OF TODAY: Dave Cowlishaw looks at the Man City v Stoke U18’s semi first leg

1993 AND ALL THAT: Film makers Mike and Dan are making a documentary on Stoke City’s amazing 1992/93 title winning season. Support them!

THE CHAIR: Matt Simmonds’ beautiful tale of growing up in a sea of Stoke-lessness, and a very special chair!

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: We talk to the people who are taking our city forwards. This time, Antony Turner from Terraces

NO GROUNDS FOR COMPLAINT: Duts looks at the home of the cardboard clapper.

THE HUNGER GAMES: Orfy looks at how we’ve started to compete against the leading lights of the Premier League again

EVERY STEP ALONG THE WAY: Stoke. March. 2017.

PERIPHERAL VISION: The superb Rob Doolan looks at the Stoke players on the fringes of history



GHOST: The Regent theatre, Hanley

Posted on March 22nd, 2017 by



“Oh, my love, my darrrrlliiing, I’ve hungered for….your touch”

I know you’re thinking “Crikey, it’s only a Monday night in ST9 as well!” Mucky lot!

No, Ghost is in town – and no, I don’t mean Molly Lee, either.

You know, Ghost?!?!??! Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore; the psychic; the baddie; that scene by the potter’s wheel? This time, it’s on stage, and for the rest of the week it’s up Hanley (duck) in musical form, as Bill Kenwright brings it to the Regent Theatre, halfway down Piccadilly.

The film is pretty iconic, and whilst overly sugary and schmoozy at (all) times, it’s a decent enough yarn. And a bit like the film itself, the two main stars of the show aren’t the main reason in driving the musical version on. Whilst Molly (Lauren Drew) and Sam (Andy Moss) are centre stage and pretty good, it’s the interjections of ‘psychic’ Oda May Brown (Jacqui Dubois) that get the crowd going and move it all along apace.

Just like Whoopi Goldberg who played Oda May in the film (and won an Oscar for her trouble) it’s Dubois who turns a good evening out into cracking one for the assembled throng. Let’s face it, the film is a right sop-fest at (all) times, and is the usual…..boy-meets-girl-but-won’t-tell-her-he-loves-her-boy-then-he-gets-murdered-on-a-night-out-and-his-trapped-spirit-watches-over-his-better-half-as-the-baddies-are-after-her scenario! A bit like a lot of rom-coms I suppose, but with an added murder on a night out, I suppose.

You know the rest, as Sam eventually departs to The Righteous Brothers’ ‘Unchained Melody’ to the sight of people wiping, er, dust from their eyes. But the special effects and performances seemed to go down very well with a Potteries crowd already well versed in the musical’s cinematic version.

Ghost    The Regent, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 25th March.

Tickets available from The Regent Theatre Box Office (0844 871 7649) or go to


Posted on March 21st, 2017 by



Our last issue sold out in record time. Here’s what’s inside #32………


Failure to attend – does it really matter if you’re at the game or not? A look at someone being shouted down who can’t go, when he offers an opinion.

West Brom – a new, and overdue, rivalry? – Orfy licks his lips.

Like the corners of my mind – being snowballed at Anfield, and the return of the Prodigal Hudson

A CD of two halves – Dave Proudlove’s superb choice of 90 minutes of the finest in aural brilliance.

Go Ahead, Make My Day……A weekend in the Eredivisie – Rob Doolan’s beautiful piece of watching two games in the Netherlands

No grounds for complaint – AFC Fylde, this time.

Movers and shakers – We chat to Lee Fredericks, a man who has done as much as anyone to progress clubbing in our city in the last three decades

The Michelin Man – life was so much more simpler in 1975, wasn’t it? Bunny thinks so. The clown.

Stuck in the middle with you – Duts has written it. Yet more brilliance from the bloke.

Helen Delap – Rory’s wife and all-round brilliant person, on her 40 challenges to raise £40K, in her 40th year.

Diary – we look back at the last month and all that sailed in her. Or summat.

Cradle to Grave – it’s a Stoke thang.

Lovely – Stoke at Preston in the Youth Cup. Lovely!

The Inbetweeners – Stoke in Sandbach





Sir Lee Pearson CBE will become an ambassador for the Donna Louise!

Posted on March 14th, 2017 by

Great news from our chosen charity!

Donna Louise Children’s Hospice Press Release 

11x Paralympic Gold Medallist Sir Lee Pearson CBE Takes On Ambassadorial Role For Stoke Based Hospice Charity


The Donna Louise children’s hospice is proud to announce that the 11 x Paralympic Gold medallist Sir Lee Pearson CBE will become an ambassador for the charity.

 Sir Lee Pearson CBE is a well-known figure in the world of Paralympic equestrian sport, and is a passionate advocate and campaigner for people with disabilities. He is also an ambassador for several high-profile charities across the Midlands. 

 Sir Lee was inspired to support the Donna Louise charity following a recent visit to the hospice where he learned more about the expansion plans for a young adult service. During this visit, he spent time chatting to staff and children at the hospice. Sir Lee also met three young people who will stand to benefit from this new service.

 Speaking at a visit to the hospice, Sir Lee said:

 “I was incredibly moved and inspired to see the great work being done at the Donna Louise and to meet the staff, children and young people who benefit from the work of this incredible charity. I am particularly proud to support local charities like The Donna Louise that help local people. I am looking forward to supporting the charity and I hope I can help shine a light on the amazing people and work they do to support children and young adults with life threatening illnesses.” 

 Melanie Williams, Head of High Value Partnerships at the hospice said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sir Lee has agreed to be an ambassador for The Donna Louise. We look forward to working with him, especially as we embark on an exciting and transformative time in the charity’s history with the expansion into services for young adults.”

 “On behalf of the children, young people and team at The Donna Louise, I’d like to thank Sir Lee for his commitment and support.”

 Sir Lee joins a host of celebrities including charity Patron, Robbie Williams, Jo Brand, Nick Hancock, Rory Delap, Phil Taylor, Rachel Shenton and Jonathan Wilkes in supporting the hospice.



4MIDABLE: Manchester City (a)

Posted on March 9th, 2017 by

4MIDABLE: Manchester City (a)

Four things we noticed from last night’s game

1. Questioning time for Cameron

We’ll hold our hands up here. We’re big fans of Geoff Cameron’s (underrated) ability and athleticism at this magazine. When he plays it means one certainty: we are a much more mobile team. One with energy and legs. It’s what we’ve been missing, especially away from home. Fact is, some don’t like him, and that’s fair enough. Opinions and all that. But his contribution was still questioned last night by some, who seemingly can’t or won’t see just how good a game he had. Which leads me onto………

2. Stats not amazing


I’m not one for statistics. My eyes and ears help me judge a football match, and I don’t immediately trot off to some data website to help me to decide of someone has played well or not. That’s why pass completion stats mean the square root of an Arsenal Champions League campaign to me.  A 100% pass completion rate, or 100% PCR as the hipsters probably say, can tell you a few things, but what it can’t tell you is context.

Statistics don’t tell you how the game is developing, and in what positions that person was when making the pass. They don’t often tell you if they were safe passes, or did the player actually attempt something a bit more adventurous.  Let’s take last night’s game……

Like I said, I haven’t looked at the stats from last night, and I won’t end up doing so, either. I simply go on what I saw. And what I saw was this – and we’ll take the aforementioned Geoff Cameron as an example:

First half, when Stoke were the better team, Cameron had more time on the ball and was in positions where he could be a little more adventurous. Second half, when Man City pressed and they were the better team, I expected the opposite to be true. It was. And surely it’s far harder to have a better PCR if you are not defending?

I saw some people say that Geoff Cameron didn’t have a good second half. Eh?!??!?! My eyes saw him tracking back, closing angles, being in the right place when needed, seeing danger, always being available, taking responsibility – that to me is what a good defensive midfielder does, especially when the team is on the back foot. As we were forced back, the gap between midfield and attacking players grew, hence the PCR decreased. Or summat.

You see, I don’t really care what the stats say. I saw Geoff Cameron have a really good game. He was my MOTM, just ahead of our captain, whilst everyone else put a great shift in, too. Why can’t everyone simply enjoy that, without the need to dissecting something to death or looking for negatives?


3. The shape of things to come

And whilst we’re giving out praise – surely the manager should get some, too?

By god, after Spurs I had far more questions than answers: How come we’re getting hammered so regularly? How come we don’t just lose to teams, we get that hammering? Why did we play possibly our most immobile team at WHL against the most mobile team in the league? And just why the **** did they ever introduce Scrappy Doo into his uncle’s TV programme?

Never mind Scooby Doo, just what did Sparky do (geddit) last night that was so different?

Mobility, pace, mindset.

By playing two up top, Geoff Cameron in the central role alongside Joe Allen, and Diouf/Sobhi out wide, the manager got it spot on. Which kind of makes the Spurs line-up even more wrong in my eyes. We had a threat going forward last night, plus the legs to get back and defend, too. And whilst Mame didn’t have his best game going forward – with the first touch of a trampoline at times – his defensive work was sterling. And it was great to see our lovely lovely left winger doing likewise to help his full back out, too.

For the most part, that’s as comfortable as we’ve been on our travels at a top 4 side in recent times. They rarely hurt us all night, and that is in no small part to the manager. He chose a brave line up, but I tell you what – even in defeat, I’d prefer to lose being brave than lose being meek. And when you’re 9th in the league, then why the hell not be brave? And to go higher than 9th, we have to be bold.

More of the same please, Sparky…….and just imagine what we might have done with Arnie fit!

4. There’s only one City

Despite what the national media would say, there really is more than one team with ‘City’ in the title: as I pointed out to a Mancunian radio station the night before the game as they had me on previewing (in their words) “City versus Stoke”.

Little things, and all that, but they mean so much, eh?

And you know that Stoke CITY have put in a great performance when our club are once again boiling the urine of those we’ve just taken points off, don’t you. You really can’t beat the spoiled brat antics of some, can you? 10pm last night: Cue the social media meltdown by any number of precious divine-righters who in 2017 DO NOT pay their money to see Manchester City drop points to the likes of Stoke City. That is not in the plan, and despite most neutrals agreeing we were well worth a point, the moral high ground was taken to almost Arsenal levels by some of those clad in laser blue.

“How do we watch that every week?”

Quite easily and willingly to be honest, and probably at around half the cost of what you do, too.

How ‘iccle Stoke had the sheer audacity to be hard to beat and defend superbly is to the great shame of our football club. Why we couldn’t just let them have the three points as they are “considerably richer than yowww”, I really don’t know. Their anti-footballing arguments were met with a plethora of Potteries’ straight bats: we played two up front and two attacking wide players; we didn’t pack the midfield; we had as many chances as you; and we were the better team first half; our keeper had hardly anything to do; and…..if you’re so ace, why is your ground never full!??!?!

Most Stokies will admit when we’ve been outplayed. After all, we’ve had 154 years of mainly that. Indeed, whilst unbeaten in Manchester this season, we’d take it on the chin that we were very fortunate to get a point at Old Trafford.

I’m sure those Man City fans won’t be all over social media moaning about a 0-0 draw in Monaco featuring superb defending next week, eh?