Stoke City: 'I idolised Sir Stan... I had palpitations when I met him'
STOKE City are 150 years old this year, so what better way to mark the occasion than by recalling their finest players?
Supporter Doug Underwood, aged 79, today selects his favourite line-up from the Potters stars he has seen play over the years.
We'd love you to do the same. Just tell us how long you have been following the Potters, name your best Stoke City team and manager, and then give the reasons for your choices.
The best response will win a framed and signed poster of Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross, plus a signed copy of a fabulous pictorial of the Potters entitled Stoke City: A Nostalgic Look at a Century Of The Club.
Please email your selections to email@example.com
DOUG Underwood saw his first Stoke City game in 1939 when his father and grandfather took him to the old Victoria Ground.
The die-hard Stoke fan, from Weston Coyney, said: "My early memories of Stoke are sitting on my dad's shoulders watching Stanley Matthews coming down the wing.
"The noise of the crowd was incredible. The cheers of the crowd would get louder and louder as Matthews beat his man before rising to a crescendo when he crossed the ball.
"He's in a my Stoke City dream team, and what a team it is. "There's not a team in the Premier League that would be able to touch this lot."
GORDON BANKS (246 apps 1967-72)
The best ever. Whereas some keepers dived all over the place, Banks didn't have to because his positional sense was so good.
TONY ALLEN (473 apps 1957-69)
He'd be my right-back, but could play on either side. A classy footballer and always very cool under pressure. He distributed the ball very well.
He played for England and, let's face it, you've got to be very good to do that if you are a Stoke player.
NEIL FRANKLIN (162 apps 1939-50)
The finest centre-half to ever kick a ball. When he came off the field he only had a dirty forehead and a few spots on his white shorts.
He was the most complete footballer you could ever wish to see and would captain my team.
MIKE PEJIC (336 apps 1969-77)
A tremendous Stoke City player who always gave his all for the Potters at left-back. Strong, forceful and another player who deservedly got picked by England.
DENNIS VIOLLET (207 apps 1962-67)
I'm playing him at right-half because he was a great distributor of the ball.
Tony Waddington knew what he was doing when he managed to sign Viollet from Manchester United.
PETER DOBING (372 apps 1963-72)
I once saw him score a hat-trick against Don Revie's Leeds when he made Jack Charlton look like a Sunday League player. When Peter Dobing made his mind up to play well, no-one could get near him at inside-right.
ALAN HUDSON (162 apps 1974-76 & 1984-85)
He was a fine passer of the ball who read the game so well. He would get into any modern team.
As he'd come up from London, we were a bit sceptical about him at first! But he was brilliant from his very first game, against Bill Shankly's Liverpool..
JOCK KIRTON (249 apps 1936-52)
Bob McGrory signed him for Stoke. He was very strong in the tackle, hard but fair at left-half.
I've picked this left footer because he and Harry Burrows together would make a very strong left side.
STANLEY MATTHEWS (355 apps 1932-47 & 1961-65)
The finest player there has been. In his first spell he played against some of the best full-backs you have ever seen and still he gave them the run around.
His balance was unbelievable and so was his fitness, he was never out of breath.
When I did National Service I was with some lads who had never seen him play, so went to watch him in London one weekend.
They couldn't believe how good he was. One of the lads was a rugby fan and said Stan moved faster with the ball at his feet than Willie Horne, a great rugby league player of the time, could run with the ball in his hands.
I was invited to meet Stan at his home in Penkhull, having written to journalist Les Scott, who was writing Stan's biography.
When I went there I had palpitations because I was meeting the bloke I had idolised watching my first games sitting on my father's shoulders.
Stan was fantastic and very modest and we spoke about football for 45 minutes. He was a lovely man; he was everything everyone had said about him.
FREDDIE STEELE (251 apps 1934-49)
Great in the air – that's how he got his name 'Nobby' – and brilliant with either foot.
He was the complete centre-forward and would have been the greatest ever were it not for two serious injuries.
When he jumped for a header it seemed as though he was floating – his timing was tremendous.
HARRY BURROWS (281 apps 1965-73)
Came from Aston Villa. An up and down winger with great work rate and also a tremendous shot with his left foot.
That left foot was so powerful that, when the ground was heavy, he'd also take the goal kicks.
ASMIR BEGOVIC (92 apps 2010-present)
He's as good a young goalkeeper as I have seen. We have been lucky with our keepers over the years, although I never really took to Peter Shilton. But I really rate Begovic.
DENIS SMITH (482 apps 1968-82)
Good enough to get into most teams, but I am only playing one centre-half and that has to be Neil Franklin.
Denis was a tremendous player who was 100 per cent Stoke City.
JIMMY McILROY (116 apps 1963-65)
What a player this Northern Ireland international was. Signed from Burnley, he was a tremendous inside-forward who, along with Stanley Matthews got Stoke promoted in 1962-63.
JOHN RITCHIE (343 apps 1963-66 & 1969-74)
A very strong centre-forward who knew where the goal was and was a great header of the ball. Peter Crouch is good at holding the ball up, but not as good as Ritchie was.
TERRY CONROY (333 apps 1967-79)
With his little thin, pale, white legs, Terry Conroy didn't look like a footballer, but by God he could play.
TONY PULIS (2002-05 & 2006-present)
Tony Waddington was great, but Tony Pulis is a very strong character.
I really admire him and, if I was in a scrap, I'd want him watching my back.
I want him managing my dream team, but only on the condition he doesn't tell Alan Hudson and Stanley Matthews to start helping out in defence!