A planned few days away walking with the lads in Wales over the Bank Holiday were dealt a blow by an unfavourable weather forecast. With cloud coverage set at 100% and the cloud base down to as low as 90 metres on some of our intended peaks, it seemed pointless embarking on traipses that would entail walking through mist right from the car park to the summits. Oatcake No95 March 1994So I stayed at home and started on a much needed “declutter” of the house. Bags of old clothes were washed, ironed and then duly dispatched to Oxfam, old computer equipment went to the recyclers, and mounds of paperwork were sorted away or shredded. (There was time to break off to watch Farsley Celtic beat Blyth Spartans 3-0 in a game that could have seen double that tally for the home side).

The task of tidying up chez moi was in the main arduous and as a dull as a Tony Pulis 0-0 draw. However it did unearth some treasures from the past. First up is Stoke City fanzine Oatcake issue 95 from 12th March 1994 against Nottingham Forest. From Under Lyme to Upon Time - my Oatcake articleWhat makes this issue more significant than the rest of my collection is that it contains my first “published” article, a piece I wrote about a trip to watch Newcastle United with a Geordie friend. Naturally there was a Stoke City link, in this case ex manager, the late Alan Ball. It is reproduced here (left) complete with the Oatcake’s dubious lack of editing. In fact I think they even added some typos! Click on the image for a full sized version. Little did I know back then that it would take so long for Stoke City and Newcastle Utd to meet again in the top flight of English football.

Another treat was finding a small album I put together to commemorate the final league match at the old Victoria Ground when Stoke beat West Bromwich Albion two goals to one on Sunday 4th May 1997. Here are a few snaps from that game including a much younger pair of Leeds Stokies, Paddy and myself stood on the Boothen End after the final whistle. I miss the Victoria Ground despite not witnessing its greatest years. I think the photo of the goal celebration captures the turbulent passion and energy of the place, the drama helped in this case by the looming dark clouds, like a storm brewing and waiting to burst forth. Good to see Pink Panther making an appearance too. ;-)

Stoke freekick v WBA 4th May 1997

Stoke score the winner against WBA 4th May 1997

Boothen End Boys - Andy and Paddy 4th May 1997

I will have to put my new scanner to good use and scan the rest of the album. One day it will no doubt be classed as a study in social history rather than the photos of a daft lad from Stoke, or a welcome break from a weekend of clutter busting.

The world is getting a smaller place thanks to the Internet. For years I have posted messages on the Stoke City fanzine (The Oatcake) messageboard. One of my fellow posters, usually kind enough to support my views, is known as Dallas Cowboy as he moved to the USA to marry and settled in Texas. By some odd coincidence he and his wife moved to Jacksonville around eight months ago. Last Friday evening Tina and I were able to meet Margaret and Calvin for a meal and had a lovely evening in their company, so I could finally put a face to a name. Calvin and I were that engrossed putting Stoke City, Jacksonville, America, and the world in general to rights that the poor waitress had to return three times to take our order as we hadn’t looked at the menu. The night flew by and we were out far later than intended, but no complaints as it was good fun. So it goes to show as the song says there are Stokies here, Stokies there, Stokies {beep!}ing everywhere.