Prior to the final home game against West Ham and two days before the long awaited Testimonial for Andy Wilkinson SCOBA and Andy appeared at the Tollgate Hotel to entertain about 90 fans from the Norway Supporters Branch. It was a unique occasion as legends from the 70’s rubbed shoulders with a present day legend. What made the night even more special was having one of Stoke’s finest players ever present, that being George Eastham who as we all know scored the winning goal in the 72 League Cup Final.
In fact we had 3 players from that team on the stage the other two being Denis Smith & Terry Conroy. As usual it was left with TC to host the occassion with his unique wit and banter. George now lives in South Africa so it was a rare treat to have over at this particular time. He is normally here at this time of the year to meet up with his World Cup team mates from the 1966 squad and the rumour is that this could be the last time as many of the team are unable to attend due to health reasons. I suppose to call it a day on the eve of the 50th anniversary of winning the trophy is a fitting way to close the chapter on such a fantastic footballing achievement, and one that will never be repeated.
George explained to the audience that he follows the Stoke games closely from over in Cape Town and had been impressed with the mid season form playing the sort of football that George probably invented. He was asked what had gone wrong with the team in recent times but like us all it was hard to pin point a reason. Denis was keen to point out that this ‘ on the beach ‘ theory was totally wrong as he felt that all the team would be disappointed in their form and that there would have been no such switching off just because the club were safe and in a decent position. Terry asked Andy what he might get involved in as he looked to his future. It was obvious that he would love to stay involved with the Football Club and there was talk of a coaching role within the academy. This was met with approval by all listening. Wouldn’t it be great if Andy produced the next Andy Wilkinson !! We have to get another local lad in the team in the years to come and Andy I feel would be very committed to this.
Other SCOBA lads were also in attendance Andy Holmes , Mike McDonald and George Jackson as well as our friend John Hilditch the former referee. The Norway fans are so dedicated and supportive and their passion for SCFC is as great as our own local fans. They showed their appreciation to Andy by presenting him with a trophy. I was very happy to present Andy with a limited print of Gordon Banks signed by GB himself. TC reminded Andy that he was now an official member of SCOBA and that he would be expected to join us on our Tuesday morning walks down at Trentham Gardens. He also pointed out that if Andy joined us he would bring down the average age of our group by quite a bit. Im sure that Andy might be too busy to join our walks but we hope that he will join us at our future events.
Congratulations Andy and welcome to SCOBA.
Many thanks to Phil Greig for allowing use of his photographs.