Stoke City: Potters prepare to face neighbours Newcastle for 30th time
STOKE City will continue an enduring club tradition when they head to Newcastle Town for tomorrow's annual pre-season run-out.
Stoke have played a friendly at their non-league neighbours every year since Richie Barker took his boys to Newcastle – then playing as Parkway Clayton – on the eve on the 1982-83 campaign.
Parkway were playing in the Potteries and District Sunday League at the time, but roped off a pitch on their Northwood Lane playing field to accommodate the 1,760 crowd.
Parkway secretary Ken Walshaw, pictured below, had asked Barker if he could come down to open the Sunday side's new £6,000 changing rooms.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
But he was taken aback when the Stoke manager turned up with a full-strength side comprising Fox, Parkin, Hampton, McAughtrie, Berry (Bould), Bracewell (Maskery), Griffiths, McIlroy (Lumsden), O'Callaghan, Ford (Ursem), Maguire (P Heath).
Nine of that side went on to start the opening game of the season for Stoke when they beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Victoria Ground.
Walshaw recalled: "It was unheard of in those days for a Sunday side to play a Stoke team like that.
"People were thinking we would lose 10-0, but in the end it was only 2-1.
"After the game was announced, the Port Vale manager, John McGrath, rang me and said 'What's this about you playing Stoke – how come you haven't asked us?'
"So Vale came down to play us as well ... and beat us 5-2."
Parkway merged with Newcastle Town in 1984 and the Stoke and Vale fixtures have been held at the Lyme Valley Stadium ever since.
In all. Newcastle have played 180 matches against Football League opposition in the last 29 years. They have faced stars such as Andy Cole, when he was at Bristol City, and Millwall trio Teddy Sheringham, Tony Cascarino and Neil Ruddock.
Their record attendance was set in 1991 when 3,576 turned up to see Lou Macari's Stoke side. However, that record could be tested tomorrow, so Newcastle are urging fans to buy tickets in advance.
Newcastle stalwart Walshaw has organised the friendlies against the likes of Stoke and Vale for the last 30 years.
He said: "We are honoured to have them here. The games raise the profile of the club and also make a massive contribution to our running costs."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is expected to name a strong side as he tries to build up his players' fitness for their opening Europa League tie against Hajduk Split at the Britannia Stadium next Thursday.
He allowed his players a rare day of relaxation with a round of golf at the Celtic Manor Ryder Cup course in Newport on Monday, but has otherwise been pushing them hard because European commitments mean their season starts 17 days early.
Newcastle boss John Diskin, aged 43, hung up his boots last season, but played against Stoke during his days in the defence at Lyme Valley.
He said: "It is a massive game for our club and is great for our players to play against Premier League players.
"I've played in a couple of these games when Nigel Gleghorn was manager here.
"I had to face Peter Hoekstra, who was so skilful and just glided across the pitch.
"I also remember I wasn't flavour of the month with the Stoke fans when I caught Luke Chadwick a bit late after he had gone past me a few years ago."
Newcastle are likely to include two former Stoke Academy players in winger Jack Harrison and defender Ryan Connor.
Diskin, assistant Ivan Lodge and coach Dave Sutton have had to rebuild the side this summer after former manager Greg Clowes left for Stafford Rangers and sparked an exodus of players.
Diskin had only two players left from last season, but has recruited experienced midfielder Dave MacPherson from Witton Albion, along with versatile veteran Dave Whittaker from Nantwich Town. He has also snapped up former Vale striker Anthony Malbon on a 12-month contract.
Malbon had a loan spell with the Lyme Valley club when he was still at Vale and also scored 10 goals for Leek Town in the latter stages of last season.
Stockport and Burton Albion also showed interest in the 19-year-old, but he has been training with Castle and played in their 1-0 home defeat by Vale nine days ago.
TICKETS for tomorrow's game are available from the Britannia Stadium or the Stoke City stores in Hanley and Newcastle. Limited seats are available at £9 or £8 concessions, while terrace tickets are £8 and £7 concessions.
A COLLECTION for the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation, which raises money for young sports men and women in need of financial assistance, will be made at tonight's game.
Pre-season friendlies: Newcastle Town v Crewe Alex; Kidsgrove v Nantwich; Congleton v Witton Albion; Stone Dominoes v Shifnal; Rocester v Burton Albion; Eccleshall v Alsager Town.