What’s Play To Your Strengths In Latin
This evening on University Challenge contestants were asked to translate the literal meaning of the mottos of three football clubs currently in the Premiership. It’s a pity that the question masters didn’t pick Stoke City’s motto - Vis Unita Fortior (trans. United Strength Is Stronger) - that continues to have a relevance in an area determined to hold onto old fashioned values (a good thing in the main) in a post-everything society.
Stoke-on-Trent did manage to get a mention on another Paxman vehicle, Newsnight, with regard to the decline of the pottery industry. An article with the broad purpose of asking ‘where next for Britain’? showed us a few arial photographs of duel carriageways and call centres, built on land formerly occupied by world famous pottery firms. The news reporter made a suggestion that something as radical as the canals that wind their way through the city needs to happen again, something physical that makes people think and act differently, shifting ways of being, bringing new economic methods and hope. Copying a way that has worked for another part of the country may not be the answer, but Stoke-on-Trent and its surrounding area needs people brave and brazen enough to try new things.
Away from economic turmoil, there’s one thing that has happened in the last eighteen months that has reminded people that Stoke does still exist and that is the promotion back to the top division for its biggest professional football club, Stoke City.
Particularly curious has been the way that Stoke have got under the skin of the footballing inner circle since promotion in May ‘08. I always thought that everyone knew some teams played more direct than others and that playing the top teams at their own game upon promotion rarely pay dividends but what I didn’t realise that the Premiership in-crowd (commentators, reporters et all) wanted a new whipping boy, but they chose the wrong one. With a pragmatic attitude towards tactics and principles (and aesthetics but I’ll save that for another time), manager Tony Pulis gave purists and idealists ammunition to dismiss the team (if not the club) as being in possession of vulgar ideals and tactics with the deployment of Rory Delap. Rory’s virtually secured a place in the starting eleven based largely (though not solely) upon his quite unbelievable ability to launch the ball from a throw in towards the opposition goal. Watching opposing players desperately trying to not give away a throw in is great fun, which has once or twice resulted in corner kicks - the acceptable face of dead ball set pieces - being sacrificed instead. Rory’s long, fast and accurate throw ins are both a fantastic spectacle and function better than the average corner kick any day of the week. You do what you have to do what you need to do to succeed, right? And to hell with those that sneer.
Rory Delap triptych © Ralp Kidson 2010. Stoke-on-Trent is north of Birmingham and to the south of Manchester and the north west of England.
This is a repeat and was originally posted Monday 29 March 2010