Stoke City: Old pals and foes ready to resume Brit rivalry
THERE will be no shortage of passion at the Britannia tonight – and that's just from the two managers.
There is little love lost between Tony Pulis and Ian Holloway from first whistle to last.
You'd certainly never guess that they go back some 30-odd years to their days at Bristol Rovers, or that Holloway is actually godfather to Pulis' only son.
For the pair haven't been afraid to give one another the verbals on rival touchlines down the years, such is their will-to-win, before inevitably embracing over an after-match drink.
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Holloway's mood has often been at its worst at the Britannia, where events have often conspired against him.
He was spitting blood in December 2005 – despite a 2-1 win for his QPR – after seeing goalkeeper Simon Royce attacked by a home fan.
Then in the 2007/08 campaign he suffered two costly visits with first Plymouth and then Leicester City.
Plymouth were beaten 3-2 on the day, but the real damage was done in the visiting dressing room after thieves broke in and helped themselves during the game.
And then on the final day of that season, while Stoke were celebrating promotion to the Premier League after a goalless draw against Leicester, the visiting manager was left contemplating relegation.
Holloway's mood was further soured by a pitch invasion to celebrate promotion which, he claimed, denied his team valuable stoppage time at the end of a game Leicester had to win.
In more recent years Holloway has treated us to the best of Blackpool at the Brit.
His side played their part in a 4-3 thriller in 2009 when Stoke stormed back to win a third round League Cup tie in extra-time.
And a season later locals were forced to doff their caps to a Charlie Adam-inspired Blackpool after they deservedly triumphed 1-0 at the Britannia in the Premier League.
Whatever happens tonight, just don't blink, not when Holloway and Pulis are crossing swords.