NO-one will punch the air harder than Alan Bloor if Stoke City can net a winning goal at Old Trafford this weekend.
And his living-room celebration might be a little more animated than the one accompanying his winning goal at Manchester United way back in 1976.
It was one of only 19 goals for the club in 474 appearances, but remains etched in the club’s history books as Stoke’s last winner at Old Trafford.
He struck with an 87th minute header for a 1-0 victory in the penultimate game of the 1975/76 season some 40 years ago.
Stoke’s win consolidated their mid-table placing, while United’s shock defeat ended any hope they had of depriving Liverpool of the title.
Bloor now 73 recalls somewhat tongue-in-cheek: “Was it Kevin Sheldon who crossed the ball in? I fell over, the ball hit me on my shoulder and it went in.
“I know it was one of the young lads who crossed it, I think it was Kevin (it was), and I just deflected it in. It doesn’t matter how they go in, as long as they do.
“I’d have to watch it all again to be 100 per cent sure, but I don’t suppose there’s any footage around.
“I do know Man United were blaming me for them losing the championship that year.”
Hard man Alan Bloor is restrained by the ref in this FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal
He’s not entirely sure how he celebrated his late strike, but he is sure it was nothing like the elaborate routines he shakes his head at whenever anyone scores today.
“No, it wouldn’t have been anything like today’s,” he laughs. “They go running across the pitch, sliding on their knees, as though they’ve just won a cup final.
“You celebrate like that when you win a game, not when there’s another 80 or 85 minutes still to play.
“For me back then at Old Trafford it would have been no more than a pat on the back and a `well done.’ There’s certainly wouldn’t have been any dancing around like there is today.”
It was a rare goal for the no-nonsense centre half – the Meir Monster – but he is quick to point out: “Although I didn’t get many, they tended to be important. My first goal for the club came at Southport, at the start of our run to the League Cup Final in 1972.”
Bloor, whose near 500 appearances came between 1961 and 1978, was one half of a double act with Denis Smith at centre half and one quarter of that homegrown back four alongside Jackie Marsh and Mike Pejic.
He and Smith compiled a grand total of 956 appearances between them for the club, playing alongside one another in no fewer than 240 matches.
He says proudly: “We were an ideal partnership, me and Denis, weren’t we? Denis was a rock solid defender, there wasn’t much that would get past him.
“He was better in the air than I was, so he attacked everything there, while I swept up anything that was left.”
Ball or man, you suspect, as neither defender took too many prisoners during their hugely successful and uncompromising liaison at the heart of Stoke’s defence for the best part of a decade.
Born barely a hundred yards from one another in Meir – albeit some four-and-a-half years apart – they became firm friends as players and remain so to this day.
Bloor, on his own admission, isn’t one for socialising hugely nowadays, but he can be occasionally tempted to join Smith and various other old team-mates at Trentham Gardens.
“Yes, I see him occasionally across Trentham when they go for a cuppa on a Tuesday,” he says.
Bluto, as his mates still call him, watches the vast majority of his football these days in front of a TV… from where Stoke’s poor start to the season has been well chronicled.
But he is adamant that his old club, led from the back by Ryan Shawcross, will comfortably keep their head above water.
“He’s been a good defender for us, like Denis was. He was a bit unfortunate with his injuries last year, but he’s probably one of the most solid defenders going at the moment and obviously enjoys being captain.
“And he’s a damned sight better than I was in than in the air.
“Having watched the football we’ve played, being down at the bottom doesn’t make much sense to me.
“We’ve got good enough players but perhaps they are just not gelling as a unit at the moment. The ability is there, it’s just not happening for 90 minutes.
“Take (Marko) Arnautovic for example. He can beat any defender on his day, he just needs to have more of those days.
“If Stoke get relegated, it will be as big a shock as Leicester winning the title last year.
“I’d be amazed if it happened… but it won’t happen.”
Certainly not if they can head to Old Trafford and repeat events there four decades ago.
“Back then, I wouldn’t have believed that 40 years later mine would still be Stoke’s last winning goal up.
“Put it this way, come Monday let’s hope we are not talking about my goal still, but are talking about somebody else who’s scored a winner up there.
“Man Utd’s defence isn’t that good, so I’m pretty sure we’ll get a goal, let’s hope it’s the game’s only goal.”
Just like April 21, 1976.