Saturday, October 25, 2008

MCFC Vs Stoke City - The Players' Lounge Sunday 26th Oct K.O. 7.00pm

Mention Stoke to most City fans of a certain age and they'll regale you with tales of a banana-filled fancy dress party at the Victoria Ground on Boxing Day in 1988. A certain member of mcfcUAE was City's mascot that day and it was undoubtedly one of the most memorable away days ever, despite the obligatory 3-1 defeat.

Hooliganism was at its peak and the inflatable craze (amongst the crowd that day were paddling pools, giant tippex bottles and Frankenstein's monsters!!) was seen as a concerted effort by City fans to reclaim the terraces from the idiots. And combined with the vast array of fancy dress on show, it worked that day despite City occupying a whole two sides of the ground.

Fast forward 10 years to Sunday May 3, 1998 and the atmosphere between between the two sets of supporters at the Britannia Stadium had turned decidedly ugly. Fighting erupted throughout the ground as the two teams battled on the pitch to stay in what is now The Championship. In typical City fashion, the Blues demolished Stoke 5-2, only to be relegated anyway on goal difference thanks to two freak results elsewhere. We had slumped to our lowest ever ebb, and Stoke were coming with us.

The carnage that followed in the rubble-strewn carparks surrounding the newly-built stadium was some of the worst violence English football had seen for many years and marked the start of a rivalry between the two sides that threatened to boil over completely at Maine Road the following season after a small fire in the North Stand forced the Stoke fans onto the pitch. The police had their work cut out keeping the two sets of supporters apart and the ensuing atmosphere when the game eventually kicked off an hour late was one of the best Maine Road ever saw in its days as an all-seater stadium.

Roll on another 10 years and the two sides find themselves meeting again, this time in the Premier League. Hopefully, the atmosphere inside and outside Eastlands will be more reminiscent of 1988 than 1998, but the history between these two clubs is sure to generate an electric atmosphere.

The clocks have gone back in the UK, so this match kicks off at 7pm (Dubai time). mcfcUAE will be gathering at the Players' Lounge (Country Club Hotel, Port Rashid) to watch this one live on the big screen with English commentary. In the days other games, Chelsea entertain Liverpool at 5.30pm, Arsenal play West Ham at 8pm, and Portsmouth take on Fulham at 9pm. If you can get out of work early enough to beat the traffic, please come and join us to cheer the lads on to victory.