As part of a new feature of the SCOBA website we are looking for ” Super fans ” to interview.
We know there are lots of loyal and dedicated fans out there so let us know if you go the extra mile supporting Stoke City and you might find yourself in the spotlight.
Our first interview is with Mike Tudor who as you will read certainly deserves the title Super fan.
Here is the interview he had with SCOBA secretary John Ruggiero :-
What are your early memories of supporting Stoke City?
My first game was in August 1963 (the Centenary/Promotion year — I was 7) at home against Leeds. Unfortunately, we lost 1-0. I was brought up in Abbey Hulton and one of our neighbours took me to the game. First away game, my Aunt and Uncle took me to was West Brom in 1965. Surprisingly, since we are always supposed to beat West Brom, we lost 5-3. Not a great start!
During the early 70’s we started to get a good team together ” The Waddo years ” any memories?
I still have tremendous memories of the 1970’s. I went to all the home games and many away in those days. I remember having a Junior season ticket, which cost 6 Pounds in the Butler Street Stand, Block B Row B Seat 3. There were so many amazing nights and Saturdays. The 5-0 defeat of Arsenal when Terry scored that blinding shot and was goal of the month. Great wins against Man United, Leeds and many others. I think we knocked Man Utd out of the League Cup and FA Cup after replays in the same year.
The “Daily Express” one time described us “the greatest Cup fighters of the modern age”. Probably my favourite game of the early 70’s was when we were 2-0 down in the FA Cup away to Hull. T.C. scored on a breakaway just before halftime — he never seemed to miss them — then Big John got two more and we came back to win 3-2. I was in the stand behind the goal where TC scored but my Dad and Uncle were standing in the Away end — they kept getting swept by the crowd into the toilets every time something exciting happened!
We got to 2 FA cup semi-finals then won the league cup in 1972 they were great times?
Amazing times! I was at all the semi finals and the League Cup Final in 1972. Hillsborough was a heart-breaker, to be so close to Wembley and then give up a disputed penalty like that. We were never in the game at Villa Park — it’s like the heart went out of the team.
The following year we had a great chance again to beat Arsenal at Villa Park when Bob Wilson was injured and John Radford went in goal but we just couldn’t get it done and then to go again and lose in disputed circumstances with the miles offside goal has given me a dislike of Arsenal that still exists today. Of course, Mr. Wenger and Co haven’t helped me get past that dislike.
We had some gifted and talented players in that period. Who were your favourite players?
My favourite player of all time was Jimmy Greenhoff. Of course, there were others — T.C., Big John, Denis, Alan Hudson, Gordon Banks, John Mahoney — all very special players.
After 1972 we signed some great players, like Alan Hudson. Suddenly Stoke were a force to be reckoned with. Was that an exciting period?
I recall the first few games after Huddy came to Stoke. He was just completely amazing. The close control was fantastic; the game seemed to go in slow motion when he had the ball, maybe because the ground was always so muddy! There were games, like the famous Liverpool game where Huddy just completely dominated the game. On his day, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the like of him in the English game. If he’d had a better time with injuries and perhaps been a little less of a rebel and got more England caps I think he’d be one of the household names in the game.
We played in Europe in that period and almost won the league in 1975, any memories?
I moved away to University in 1974 so didn’t go to all the games any longer but still remember listening to the Ajax games on the radio and the injury-hit season of 1974-75 where we were top of the league in February and could have won the title with wins in the last three games. I was at Sheffield United in April when Tony Currie bossed the game and we lost 2-0 then we tied the last two games and finished fifth, four points off top spot.
It’s hard to see us ever finishing that high in the league again given how much money the Manchester and London clubs have to spend but still the great thing about the Premiership is that on any given day any team can beat another, as we’ve proved this season by going undefeated at home to last year’s top four.
Do you recall the Butler Street roof blowing off it cost the club dearly in more ways than one?
Again, I was away at university when the stand roof blew off and most of it wasn’t that obvious to me. What devastated me though was when we sold Jimmy G. The blackest day ever in my Stoke City history!
You moved to Canada in 1981 how did you carry on supporting Stoke City?
In those days we didn’t have the internet of course. It was difficult. I relied on BBC World Service radio broadcasts on Saturday afternoon and the “Sentinel” or “Green Un” that my mother would mail and I’d get a week later!
How things have changed today. We moved to the U.S. from Canada about 12 years ago and now every game is on live on the satellite in high definition. It’s such a treat plus we also use a Slingbox to watch “Match of the Day” on Saturday night from the UK.
Most fans look at the Lou Macari era as the next success period?
By this time I was only getting back to the UK once or twice a year so saw less than five games a season but I was always hopeful we’d make it back to the Premiership. I still remember some good players from the Macari era and particularly liked Hoekstra and of course Steino but it was sad to see some of the bad times we went through.
The Icelandic era was a bit of a farce, how did you feel about that period?
Again, I didn’t see too many games each year during this period. We met Gudgon Thordarson in the Holiday Inn at Heathrow just before a game at Brentford and I found him pleasant and engaging as he took the time to talk to my Son and I even on the morning of a game. On one trip over though, I went to a “Meet the Manager” session with Johan Boskamp — to describe it as “surreal” would be an understatement. Probably the lowest point since Jimmy G. was sold was, I think in early 2006.
I came over to watch a few games and after a long flight from Houston drove all the way down to Cardiff for the game there. We lost 3-0, a terrible performance and Boskamp sat in the dugout the whole game and never moved. Terribly depressing!
Tony Pulis was our saviour what are your thoughts on him as a manager?
I have tremendous admiration for the man. He was hard done by in my opinion in both his terms as a manager. Getting out of the Championship is tough but look how few teams are promoted and stay up.
The whole city owes him and the Coates family a huge debt of gratitude for building such a solid foundation for the club going forward.
The premiership era has been amazing have you been able to get to many games?
When we were promoted to the Premiership I bought season tickets again as it was obvious initially that many games would sell out. On average these past few years, I’ve made it in person to 8-10 games a year (my wife and family are very understanding). And of course we came over for the FA Cup Semi Final and Final.
Sometimes it feels like a long hike, especially when we lose and you have to travel all that way back but when we win of course the emotions are quite different. I’ve also sponsored a player’s shirt for many years — Gifton Noel-Williams, Carl Hoefkens, Ricardo Fuller and now, because of the Houston connection, Geoff Cameron.
Beating Bolton 5-0 at Wembley playing in the cup final and then Europe it’s a hard act to follow do you think the new management Can repeat the TP success?
Anything is possible. Everton have shown that much can be achieved on a much smaller budget than Manchester City but the whole setup has to be right from scouting, recruiting and player development through to coaching.
I think the foundation is there to take Stoke beyond even what TP accomplished. Mark Hughes signed Kompany and Zabaleta for Man City so he can obviously spot great talent. Overall, I’m optimistic.
This season has been frustrating some great performances but equally some poor, how do you see it panning out?
Again, I’m optimistic. There have been some disappointing performances against bottom five clubs but you don’t beat three and tie one of last years top four teams without being able to play. And, some of the play itself has been excellent. I think Mark Hughes knows where he’s going, where he needs to strengthen and he’ll get us there in time.
What’s your all time best Stoke City eleven + subs?
Gordon Banks, Lee Dixon, Denis Smith, Ryan Shawcross, Mike Pejic, Stan Matthews, Alan Hudson, John Mahoney, Terry Conroy, Jimmy Greenhoff, Ricardo Fuller. Subs: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Robert Huth, Steven N’Zonzi, Peter Hoekstra, John Ritchie, Mark Stein.
Thanks Mike, not a bad team I have to say.