Well, it’s certainly been an eventful start to the year for Stoke City. Two disastrous defeats and a managerial sacking see us about to start on a new adventure with our backs very much against the wall. O’Neill, Pearson, Rowett, Rodgers, Koeman, Shhhhteve, Nello…whoever the new manager is, they will have our full backing (though not Di Canio, the fascist). It’s a brave new world.
On Hughes: it’s fair to say the majority of the regular WoD contributors have been in the ‘Out’ camp for some time and it was a blessed relief last night to get confirmation of his departure. However, there is still a frustration that the rot was allowed to fester for this long. We cannot forget the achievements – and bloody hell, there were some rip-roaring times under Sparky that will live long in the memory – but it was plainly obvious what needed to be done. Good luck in your next job, Mark.
I have no idea what the effect of Hughes’ departure will mean for the tone of the podcast. I suppose it depends on how the new man gets on if we see a marked difference. We started this podcast at the end of 2015/16, when Imbula and Diouf saw off West Ham to clinch ninth place. There’s a case to be made that we’ve been a bit of a curse.
There is a perception, I feel, reading comments on Twitter (always a bad start) that we’re negative for negativity’s sake. I like to think this isn’t true. Whilst I wanted Hughes to go in the summer, I was prepared to see what his new signings could do to turn our fortune’s around this season. After the Arsenal win, I genuinely thought we were ‘back’. Alas, that wasn’t to be.
All we’ve ever done on the podcast is try and communicate our views and facilitate discussion. A lot of the time, this means people don’t like us, and that’s how arguments start. Sometimes though, it’s been better. At the end of last season an Oatcake forum poster who’d been heavily critical of us came on the show and we had an actual civilised conversation about Stoke and fan media. It was great, and something I’d be open to doing again. You put stuff out there, people are free to slag it off if they don’t like it. It’s when not quite liking something turns into bitchiness or questioning other fans’ support that I get annoyed, and often disillusioned.
I nearly packed in the podcast this year. It was beginning to feel like a cycle of watch crap game > do podcast > have Twitter argument. I wasn’t having fun talking about Stoke anymore, I wanted to concentrate on ‘real life’ and the availability of bigger, shinier outlets made me feel like the little guy trying to get noticed. I’ve ‘given my head a wobble’ a bit since, and am happy to be the guy who does that weird, little Stoke podcast that talks about Star Wars as much as it does tactics. Also, everyone who does the pod with me is an absolute gem and I’d miss talking to them on the weekends.
With Hughes gone, I’ve got a fresh sense of optimism, that may very well blow up in my face, but it’s nice to NOT know. It’s nice not knowing whether we’ll go back to being a really good side, rather than knowing that the slump would continue. Whether we go down or surge up the table, I’m looking forward to the rollercoaster ride ahead.
Anyway, the point of this article…
New Years Resolutions. In 2016, I made four resolutions for the podcast. How did we get on?
The first was to concentrate on quality not quantity. I think this has largely been achieved, we’ve stopped doing pods for the sake of them and have allowed ourselves to take a breather. I’ll let you be the judge of quality, but from a technical side of things I think my editing skills have improved to a medicore level.
The second, a regular schedule. Yeah, okay, we’ve managed to get pods out ‘on time’, meaning Sundays after a game. The nature of football fixtures means it’s harder to be much more clinical than that, given we have jobs and stuff.
IRL Content – we had a few great studio shows, and I’d like to do more but when your hosts live in Lancashire, Brighton, Yorkshire, Manchester or the US it’s a lot easier to use Skype. Hopefully we’ve gotten to a place where Skype isn’t a burden to the quality of the show.
More of what you want – again, you tell us if we achieved this. We’ve taken feedback on board where we can, but if you feel like your suggestion has been overlooked please tell us.
Okay then, we did alright. Do we have any New Years Resolutions for this year?
Thought about committing to some subscriber target, episode idea, merchandise release or goal, but there’s no way I can guarantee anything. We do this for free (with a few quid a month from our wonderful Patrons), in our spare time because we love Stoke, and love drivelling on about them. So my only resolution is to keep trying. Keep trying to make the best show I can and if I fuck it up, then I’ll at least have had fun fucking it up. We’ll try to make a good show, positive, negative or sitting on the fence. I’ll keep trying to make it worthwhile for our Patrons who’ve so kindly donated money so we can travel to games and meet interviewees. This year, I got to meet Gordon Banks because some people give me money because they like the internet radio programme I do. That felt good to write.
So yeah, my resolution is to keep trying. That, and try and avoid falling out with folk on Twitter (as much).
Thank you for being there with us. Vis Unita Fortior.
Or, to put it another way…