Carl Beeston is Stoke City born and bred, having supported the club, played for the club and now going back to supporting the club, the Potters’ unsung hero reflects on the highs and lows of his career.
Beeston’s last game for Stoke City was a 2-1 victory over midland rivals West Brom, which was also the final game at the beloved Victoria Ground.
A stark comparison to his first game for the club, making his debut on the final day of the 1984-85 relegation season, as Stoke went down as the worst ever team to play in Division One.
Beeston was thrown into action by the man that offered him a professional contract, Tony Lacey, who took over from Bill Asprey with eight games to go.
On the last day of the season the Potters played Coventry at the Victoria Ground and Beeston was called into action.
“Being a fan and then the next minute you’re on the pitch was surreal, there were no real nerves, as soon as you start having a bit of a laugh with the lads and you step onto the pitch, any real nerves disappear,” said Beeston.
Beeston, self-proclaimed himself as being too lazy recollects the moments he had with Lacey , and it was his influence that may have had the biggest impact on Beeston’s career at Stoke: “If it wasn’t for Lace (Tony Lacey), I don’t think I would’ve gotten a professional contract.
“I was too lazy and Lace gave me a different way of thinking, which was basically getting me off my arse,” he added.
His talent came naturally, and that was the reason he found it tough to stop being lazy: “It was just too easy for me and I just couldn’t snap out of it.
“The games weren’t easy, I could just play football – it was if I didn’t have to think,” Beeston added.
After Beeston’s debut the next two seasons would be his toughest, with limited starts in the 1985/86 season, Beeston then contracted glandular fever which led to him missing the whole of the 1986-87 season, after spending 6 months bed-ridden.
“It nearly ruined me, I just thought I’d got the flu and then they found out I had glandular fever – I was in bed solidly for 6 months,” Beeston added, “I actually met Seb Coe through it.
“He gave me advice on how to recover because he went through something similar.”
The long wait for Beeston’s return was worth the wait as he returned to Mick Mills’ side and earned himself an England U21’s call-up, after Arsenal defender Martin Keown pulled out of the squad due to injury.
Keown’s misfortune was Beeston’s gain, he took to the field with Arsenal legend David Rocastle, David Platt, Vinnie Sanways and England hero Paul Gascoigne, “Vinnie Sanways was there from Tottenham, he was brilliant.
“Him (Sanways) and Gazza were the one’s, they were brilliant together,” Beeston added.
On Gascoigne, “he’s just mad, constantly winding everybody up – us or someone in the street, he’s having a laugh with them, either trying to trip them up or doing something stupid.”
During the next couple of seasons Stoke hit the lowest of lows as they were relegated to the third division, which was then followed by their lowest ever league finish as they came 14th in the third division.
The Potters needed some form of inspiration, Lou Macari was seen to be the man to rejuvenate the players and fans, after he won the Football League Trophy the previous year with Birmingham City.
Beeston was to play an integral role in the Potters’ revival alongside new signings Vince Overson, who followed Macari from Birmingham and Stoke legend Mark Stein, who was signed from Oxford United.
Macari’s first season in charge saw the Potters and Beeston reach the play-offs, before losing in the semi-final to Stockport County, with Beeston getting a red card.
“It was my fault we lost in the play-offs,” Beeston jokingly added, “so I keep getting told anyway, because that’s the one I got a red card in.”
The Potters faced Stockport again a few days later in the Football League Trophy at Wembley without the suspended Beeston, however, a Stein volley clinched a 1-0 victory for the red and whites.
“He was awesome, his movement, touches, everything about him was just frightening for the opposition.
“Some of his goals were unbelievable, he was similar to Ricardo Fuller – both would always have that little bit of magic,” said Beeston.
Beeston will always be a Stoke hero on the terraces, he now works as a postman based in Hanford and watches Stoke’s game with the fans at the Bet365 Stadium.
A question may be asked just how good was Carl Beeston? Well, former Potters player Nigel Gleghorn answered that: “In today’s world, Beest (Beeston) would be Premier League class.”