In the modern game, our access to the footballers we adore is limited. But what if you could go to the pub with a Stoke player? Who would make a good companion? Who’d get the ales in? Who’d be helpful on the quiz machine? Who wouldn’t make a fuss of asking the bar staff to top your pint up? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, and I know that because you’re asking yourself right now.
Here, I go through the Stoke squad and rate them – not on ability, looks or status – but on their potential as a drinking companion. Willing to join you for a pint of beer/cola for the non-drinkers. Disclaimer: These are pub drinks only. This isn’t a ‘big night out’ scenario, so put the VKs away.
Jacky B. A young man who knows all the latest banter. He’d get a round in, sure, but he strikes me as more of a club than a pub man. He seems such a nice lad, so you’d feel well looked after in his company, but seeing the eyes of everyone in the pub look past you and at him would get galling. Too handsome for a one-on-one drinking session. 6/10
Game for a laugh, and it’s not like he’s got much to do the next morning. A solid night would only be spoiled by the fact he’d have to Instagram fucking everything. 7/10
Now we’re talking. Erik looks like a man who can hold his ale, and will definitely be willing to do the hard work – shuttling to and from the bar – and he can carry four pints in his hands no problem. Too much, and he might start smashing stuff, but he’d applaud the bar staff at the end of the night no matter what. 8/10
“Yeah Joe, that is quite a nice coop you’ve built there. All hens are they? Brilliant. Call it a day after this?” 3/10
A night out with Ash goes well until you contend that Hal-Robson Kanu’s goal against Belgium was a bit overrated and then – pow – he’s glassed you. Fucksake Ash, you were supposed to be dependable. 2/10
You’re way too much of a lad to appreciate a pint of Plum Porter Grand Reserve, and in fact half of it would cause you to topple over. I appreciate you coming, but you’re not lasting the night are you, Tom lad? Yeah go on, text your dad. 4/10
Low-key legend. You think it’ll be standard but then he’ll wow you with a surprising ability on Karaoke. He’s the life and soul of the party is Pete, perhaps too energetic for you to keep up with. He’ll end the night early, but those were a good couple of hours. 7/10
No, Benik. No I’m not going there. Who you meeting? As lovely as she sounds, I’ll pass mate, you have fun though. 1/10
I bet if you really got to know him over a few drinks Jimmy would be great *searches Irish dictionary* craic. He seems a thoughtful sort of fellow, and without rushing to stereotypes, probably game for a laugh too. That is until Tommy Tomminson at the bar slams down his pint of mild and slurs at him: “Yer, so yer drink the queen’s alcohol but you won’t win World War Two?” and McClean breaks another arm burying him in the cellar. 4/10.
Has gone to Spoons with the U23 lads. Will try and make it out if he can. 0/10
Bruno Martins Indi
Bruno’s had an interesting life, and will be an interesting guy to speak to. You don’t hang around the Duch national team for that long without learning a certain joie de vivre. He’ll be genuinely interested in your anecdotes too. Or maybe that’s just his eyes. 8/10
He’s just got off from a shift on 5Live, so is encouraging you to down your pint – FRESHA – so we can all go to Yates’. I don’t want to go to Yates’, Charlie. I want to enjoy myself. He then sulks and complains this pub isn’t as good as this one in Blackpool. 2/10
He seems like such a lovely bloke, and you’d want to buy him all the pints he wanted just as a way to thank him for his service to the club. He seems like an IPA man, too. The one problem may be that he’d be a little bit too sensible at the pub. Three pint maximum. 6/10
Nice guy Mame would be a delight to pass a few hours with. Although obviously not a drinker, his warm smile would be reassuring. 8/10
There’s a chance your drink might get spiked, allegedly. 1/10.
Doesn’t turn up. You’ve messaged him by Text, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter DMs and Speckled Jim the carrier pigeon but despite claiming to be on his way, he doesn’t arrive. You start to wonder if he’s a real person, and you’ve not just been catfished by a Russian bot. 0/10
Cuco’s a tough one to call. The on-loan man is at this point a bit of a mystery to us, but if you invite Tom Edwards out there is a possibility Cuco will get there before him and just sit his seat. ?/10
Has a shot once every year, but despite Fletch probably being a nice guy you’d imagine you’d be checking your phone a lot, and wishing Etebo was out with you instead. Only drinks Tennents Lager. 2/10
Now we’re talking. Crouchy. The Peter Crouch. That Peter Crouch.
There was a time, before the early 2010’s, when banter wasn’t such a horrific word. There’s the bad kind of banter (the progenitor of lads, bantz and the banter bus) but there is good banter. Peter Crouch banter. Banter you can tolerate for more than an hour. Crouchy has the good banter. He’s got those self-deprecating height gags on tap, he has all the gossip and boy can he chat. Chat for days. Great chat for a big man.
Then there’s the fascination with the guy himself. A career that’s seen World Cups, Champions League games, THAT goal against Man City and his wife won Strictly. He’d make you feel like his best mate. Do you want to do a podcast with me Crouchy? We’re mates now. I could be the new Chris Stark, except northern and hopefully less of a sycophant. But no, he doesn’t want to do a podcast right now. That’s alright Crouchy, maybe next time.
The night goes by in a blur. Pints have come and gone, it’s last orders before you know it. Crouchy has shown you a good time. Kasabian come on the jukebox. Crouchy wants a dance. Before you know it, you’re in the middle of the pub, without a care in the world. Just you, Crouchy and “Eee-zeh”. Your life has peaked, and Kasabian are soundtracking it, imagine someone being such good company you don’t care that they love Kasabian that much.
Then it happens.
“Crouchy, you can’t do the robot to Kasabian.” You stand there slack-jawed. He’s done it. This is the pub equivalent of a 35-yard volley past Joe Hart. He’s done the robot to Kasabian. Six seven tall, Peter Crouch will score, everywhere we go.
While a night in the pub with Bojan would be a Stoke fan’s fantasy, the only downside would be the fish out of water situation. Bojan should be sat outside a cafe, flicking through a crime novel and smiling in the sunshine. Contrary to the Championship, a drinking session might be something El Petit Geni maybe is a bit too lightweight for. Another sensible soul, he’d also probably call it a night early. But who cares? It’s Bojan. 7/10
Spills everything. 1/10
Orchestrates everything. From organising the night, to being meticulous in getting the drinks. The table must be wiped down, there must be coasters. Are you feeling a draught? No it’s fine, Ryan.
You appreciate everything he’s doing, but ultimately, is he not just a bit too helpful? Just relax and enjoy yourself, Ryan. He can’t though, he’s already eyeing up the fire exits. 4/10
Forgets his ID and can’t get served. Has to stick to Cokes. 2/10