Luck isn't on Potters' side as Chelsea rule Britannia
SO this is how it feels to be Norwich, Fulham, Wigan, Manchester United and every other Premier League club who have been hammered on their own ground in the last few years.
It had to happen to Stoke eventually and, considering it was the first home league defeat in 11 months, I don't suppose anyone will be protesting at the training ground gates this morning.
Besides, even describing this defeat to Chelsea as a 'hammering' seems more than a trifle harsh.
It's a strange old game when your keeper is clearly man of the match and you lose 4-0 and yet come away feeling that, for the most part, the performance wasn't too bad.
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But Stoke were right in this game until Jon Walters' first own goal on the stroke of half-time and only began to wobble when he headed into his own net again after 62 minutes.
However, any criticism of Walters would be ludicrous.
You could reasonably blame him if he hadn't tracked back and his man had run through to score.
You can't blame him for working his socks off to do his defensive duties, only to be unlucky enough to see two six-yard-box headers fly past his own keeper.
Clearly fortune does not always favour the brave. If it did, Walters would have scored the last-minute penalty rather than sending it into the Boothen End.
In fact Walters' afternoon went wrong in such epic fashion that one day they might make an opera, or at the very least a musical, about it.
Hugh Jackman could play the versatile Stoke forward burying his head in his hands, while high in the Q-Railing Stand, Anne Hathaway wonders whether to stay to the bitter end or leave early to beat the rush.
In the meantime we'll just have to make do with the wise and indeed prophetic words of 1980s boy band Brother Beyond who crooned: "The harder I try, the further away from me it's slipping".
Such was life for Walters on Saturday.
No-one is more committed to Stoke's cause and no-one less deserved fortune and fate to conspire against him as it did for City's number 19.
If there's one thing to be learned from this it's surely 'never go on Football Focus'. Walters appeared on the BBC show on Saturday lunchtime, and, even though he said all the right things, he must have reawakened some terrible curse.
You think I'm joking? Alan Hudson went on the programme in the winter of 1984 and didn't exactly endear himself to his Stoke team-mates or manager when he tipped City to be relegated that season.
Huddy later explained that the programme had been edited to make his comments seem more damning than they actually were, although Stoke did indeed go on to be relegated.
Saturday was the 39th anniversary of Stoke smashing the British transfer record to sign Hudson from Chelsea for £240,000.
Hudson is one player who could have made the superb Frank Lampard look ordinary on Saturday, but unfortunately the Stoke legend could only watch from the stands as the visitors took over in the last half-hour.
I'd thought City couldn't suffer more at home to Chelsea than a 3-0 defeat at the Old Victoria Ground in December 1988. The game was accompanied by an hour-long rendition of "One man went to mow" by the Chelsea fans, which, after the first 18 renditions, became such nails-down-a-blackboard stuff that Stoke fans were tearing up match programmes and shoving the pages in their ears to try to block it out.
"One man went to moan" would be a better terrace anthem this season for Chelsea supporters who booed and brought anti-Rafa Benitez banners to the bloke's first game.
Not surprisingly he didn't get any abuse from the away fans during this game, although there were chants and applause in support of his sacked predecessor Roberto Di Matteo after 16 minutes – Di Matteo's old shirt number.
Before the match, Tony Pulis compared Benitez's situation to his own at Stoke.
He's got a point because in both his spells in the Potteries, the reception for Pulis initially ranged from frosty to lukewarm.
The difference is Pulis wasn't replacing an enormously popular predecessor in either spell.
To my knowledge, no-one has campaigned for a Steve Cotterill statue outside the Hanley club shop, although it is rumoured that, just before lunch-time, the Britannia catering staff gather around the hot-dog and burger stand to take part in a minute's applause to Johan Boskamp.