Email to Stoke City Football Club

Given recent form and the pending threat of relegation to England’s third tier of football, I decided to write an email to the club. They tell me it’s been given to senior management, who knows, if you are interested this is the content of the email.

It is my sincerest wish that this is Given to Mr Walters and that that he in turn might consider giving it to Mr Schumacher or put it somewhere it can be read by the current first team squad. I don’t suppose for a minute that will happen nor that this email will make it anywhere near them, but it’ll make me feel better just getting these things off my chest and in the one in a million chance that somebody reads it, takes it to the dressing room and it makes a difference, it’ll be worth the effort.

I’ve watched the fortunes of Stoke City over five decades, I saw us come close to winning Division One in the 1970’s before Gordon’s Crash, I saw the stand collapse and the decimation of the squad to pay for the damage and the resulting relegation that followed, I’ve watched us drop to Division 2 and come back to the Premier League, but what I see on that pitch today depresses me more than anything over these past fifty years.

The club has had five full time managers and three caretaker managers since relegation in 2018, each time its been said that “He’s lost the dressing room”. I don’t really now what that means, nor how you lose the confidence and support of the 25 staff under your supervision, but I do know that it is highly unlikely to happen to five different managers unless there is a mutiny somewhere. 

I don’t now what might cause 25 professional football players to decide they don’t like the manager, and therefore ignore his coaching and instructions. Is it simply because he wants them to work hard? Maybe he wants them to do something that is unfamiliar, uncomfortable or unusual. Everyday people have to do these things outside of football, why can’t you as football players. Most of you earn in a week what I earn in a year, some earn in a day what my wife earns in a year and yet the two of us get up, work hard and do as instructed. Even if that is hard, uncomfortable or unfamiliar.

Why cant you stretch yourself? Why can’t you listen to a new way and push yourself to grow into that. The alternative, the “not playing for the manager” all that does is hurt people like me, people that rely on football to bring them joy, to entertain them, to excite their otherwise dreary and mundane lives. You’ve been given an opportunity that most of us could only dream about and yet that opportunity, at times, seems to mean nothing but a pay day to you. It seems to bring no pride, no desire, no joy to any of you. Come in, play because you have too, go home. Job done.

I’ve never stepped foot inside the Stoke City building other than to go to my seat in the Boothen End. I have no idea what is the real cause of the troubles of the past five years, I’ve no idea why managers come and go but results stay the same, but I have managed people, i’ve seen those that don’t want to do the heard work. It’s almost never the manager’s fault and football is one of the few professions that lay the blame there rather than on those responsible.  Its a team sport, walking away whilst your colleagues are still playing, that hurts. It hurts your team mates, it hurts your manager, it hurts those paying to watch you do the thing you supposedly love doing. Even if you think you can do better and haven’t had the chance – Its a team sport, and maybe that’s what you’ve all forgotten.

I’ve watched the last two games whilst suffering from and recovering from pneumonia. I have had to watch them from home. Please boys, for an old time Stokie, for a man who bought his first season ticket in 1976, for a man who is at the end of his Stoke days and for all of us who want to see you succeed, please stop whatever rebellion is taking place and if I am wrong, if there is no rebellion, work out where the problems lie. Work with each other, help each other, stay late, work hard, practice, practice, practice and for gods sake fight on that pitch. Fight with every breath you have and every fibre in your body. 

I don’t know if you are hurting, but I do know that people like me are hurting badly right now. The world is terrible place, Football should not be, there wll always be three teams at the bottom of the table, Stoke should not be one of them.

Times are tough, the football has been poor, the links with the supporters are fading and it took a trip to Ireland last summer for me to remember just how this love affair started, and what football does for me. As with all long-term relationships, there are good times and bad times, but if you don’t fix this, some might never stand next to their son in Luton’s away end, watching a penalty shootout after extra time, knowing we’ve still got to drive home and get up the next morning.  They’ll never buy their own season card, never see Shamrock Rovers beat their local rivals with an 88th minute penalty. They’ll never sneak out past curfew to watch Stoke lose 2-3 to Blyth Spartans or stand bewitched as Stoke beat Liverpool 6-1 and they’ll never ever see a ten man Stoke beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties with Mame Biram Diouf at right back.  

Please boys, do your bit, bring back the joy and put whatever it is causing this trouble aside. 

Or leave.