Stoke City: Simon Lowe column
AROUND ten days ago Tony Pulis commented in a press conference about Stoke's USA strategy, which has already brought us Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea thus far this season.
He said: "we've got a scout over there who knows the league very well and we might add another one next year. We think it's somewhere we can get players from."
But not only is TP looking over there, now Americans are becoming more and more attracted to Stoke City.
Take 11-year-old Owen Culver from St Louis, Missouri for example.
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A fully converted Stoke fan who has grown up a soccer fanatic amidst a group of friends who almost all support Manchester United, Owen took the ultimate step on Saturday of crossing the pond and becoming Stoke's first ever American mascot for the game against West Brom.
The other ten mascots came from as far afield as Chell and Biddulph.
It just shows what an impact being members of the Premier League has had for Stoke in the last five years.
Is this the start of a major influx of fans to go alongside these US players?
Well, maybe. Once Owen returns home and starts playing for his club Webster Groves in his brand spanking new Stoke kit, provided by Stoke's excellent mascot team led by Phil Meeson and Tracey Burrows.
Perhaps random supporters' clubs will be instituted in places like Springfield and Jefferson City. Walking out in front of 26,000 people holding Steven Nzonzi's hand was quite an experience for young Owen and he was completely hooked by the match, so his conversion to being an evangelical Stoke fan is complete. How ironic then that these new fans are arriving just at a point where many homegrown Stokies are at a crossroads in terms of supporting the club and manager during this iffy run of form this year, and questioning whether to renew their season tickets.
Saturday was undoubtedly an improved performance from the side, with decent backing from the stands. The tide has not turned as fully yet as some of the moaning Minnie's will have you believe, but there is no doubting the significant undercurrent of 'wisdom' which states that Pulis has taken the club as far as he can.
Owen's thoughts on that? "If you are a true fan, then I think that you should always support the team," he said.
And his first ever game at the Brit? "It was great. I would have loved to have seen some goals, though."
Welcome to supporting Stoke City, Owen. Welcome to supporting Stoke...