It took a little over three years to reflect on Stoke’s 2008 FA Cup match against Newcastle and the steady, reassuring course that events have since followed. Now, 52 hours after winning against Brighton on Saturday, it’s hard not to immediately look back and be amused by the following sentence posted here in the morning:
“That doesn’t mean League 1 Brighton won’t be making the long journey believing they can win.”
Repeating the sentence is not to say that Brighton didn’t believe success was possible and they would have expected better from the game. Sure, it was always likely to be unlikely, but Stoke have had a habit of messing those sorts of games up in the past. Badly messing them up. Even so, maybe it verges on gloating to so shamelessly bask in the 3-0 victory, but they’re as local a team as I’ve got so I can’t help being pleased to see them do well.
Now, with a home quarter-final tie against opposition that shouldn’t be feared, there is the more pressing matter of keeping expectation in check. A semi-final trip to Wembley is perfectly feasible; it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that an appearance in the final might be on the cards too given a favourable draw.
Which is why there is nothing wrong in looking back at Saturday and recognising that in another time – another life; maybe a whole other universe – the afternoon could have produced an entirely different story. Therein is perhaps the biggest compliment to be paid to the people who run Stoke City FC and have got the club to where it is now – from a position of hope and aspiration and maybe we can beat Newcastle if this works for us and that works for us too – to being the ones daring to dream, and with not a little confidence.
Stoke for the Cup!
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It seems wrong to tack the following on to the end of a post whose only similarity with the subject matter is football, but it does lead on nicely from what I wrote about Inter and – more specifically – Ronaldo the other day. It therefore seemed equally wrong not to draw attention to this article about the talented Brazilian: