Since elsewhere – you and whose army? – George is showing such appetite for the battle, I am thinking of inviting him to become the inaugural ‘Honourary Classless Stokie,’ & am running this past us all from the work-in-progress, just to see, and to invite corrections…
The question on Jeff’s lips is the obvious one: Can the three-lunged beavers hang on?! Eventually the ‘numerical advantage tells’ and Boro win 2-1, Turkish ace Sanli Tuncay scoring the winner. In Berlin, in the summer before this season, I have witnessed the Turks celebrating a scintillating comeback-win in the quarter finals of the European championships. Berlin has the third-largest Turkish population on the planet, after Istanbul and Ankara. There are about three-hundred thousand Turks in the German capital. It is a German soldier in a bar who tells me this, a soldier who had been supporting Turkey during this game. ‘Of course.’ he says, when I ask him about his evident affiliation. ‘I would not support them against Germany, but against anyone else, definitely. They are here, part of my city: why wouldn’t I?’ After the match, three hundred thousand Turks drove out in the streets of Berlin and turned the place into a riot. We saw one face-painted maniac travelling down a dual carriageway standing on the roof of a car. AndyP, who is at Boro, texts to tell me the atmosphere in the away end has been a cracker with supporters apparently throwing themselves through the air when we scored. If Stoke were a nation, they would not be Hungarians,* they would be Turks crossed with Hungarians. Imagine a hybrid Magyar-Ottoman tribe and you get the flavour of being on the road with the Mighty Potters. We will offend many broadsheet commentators this season, being described as ‘raucous and bellicose’ by The Times and as ‘witless’ by The Guardian. It is, it seems, some time since a fundamentalist clan such as this one went on tour round this League.
Elsewhere on Gillette Soccer Saturday Blackburn Rovers are being stuffed 4-1 at Upton Park by West Ham, much to the delight of the home fans who have never forgiven new Rover’s manager and ex-Hammer Paul Ince for appearing in a tabloid newspaper wearing a Manchester United shirt before the deal had gone through, while he was still on the east end club’s payroll. Jeff and the boys are commenting on the speculation that Ince, one of the youngest gaffers in the Premiership, and the first black Briton to manage in the top flight, will not be in the job for long.
* a Hungarian connection has already been referred to earlier, hence the qualifier.