Stoke City: 'I met Mark Stein and was devastated to discover he was taller than me'
Stoke City are 150 years old this year, so what better way to mark the occasion than by recalling their finest players?
TIM SMITH, a lifelong Stokie now living in Bermuda, 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.
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TIM Smith might be seen as a curse on Stoke after spending his first days as a fan standing on a fishing stool supplied by his dad in the Boothen End during the club's calamitous 1984/85 campaign.
He was also a season ticket-holder through the dark days of Alan Ball's managerial reign and beyond, but left England in 2006 for a newspaper job in Bermuda, just as Tony Pulis was launching the Potters' renaissance.
The 35-year-old, who is originally from Tean, was watching from afar as the club made it to Wembley in 2010/11 – and then spoilt it all by returning for the final.
THOMAS SORENSEN (119 apps 2008-present)
THE most reliable goalkeeper in my time who didn't sport a moustache or wig. With apologies to our potentially brilliant Bosnian, I hate the modern trend for young goalies.
Old head Tommy instilled an invaluable calmness into our young defenders at key times in their careers.
LEE DIXON (88 apps 1986-88)
DESTINED to become just a brick in the wall of one of the most boring teams in football history after he left Stoke, bizarrely it was Dixon's cavalier overlapping, spectacular overhead-kick goal-scoring and penchant for crazy own goals which made him the man to watch in our fantastic, but erratic, 1987 team.
ANDY GRIFFIN (139 apps 1996-98, 2006-07 & 2008-10)
IT says a lot about our lack of quality left-backs over the past three decades that a bloke who peaked at age 17 is the best I could think of.
A tall man's Cliff Carr, a thin man's Derek Statham and a footballer's Kofi Nyamah, Griffin was a future England player before we sold him to Newcastle.
RYAN SHAWCROSS (226 apps 2007-present)
IT is to English football's great shame that, in a Premier League jam-packed with over-hyped prima donnas who feign injury and wipe their backsides on 20 pound notes, that one of the few remaining gentlemen who just wants to play football the way it's supposed to be played is portrayed as a pariah by the national media.
Anyone who doesn't recognise Shawcross as one of the best English defenders of recent years is talking out of their Arsene.
ROBERT HUTH (158 apps 2009-present)
THE fact I no longer despise cynical German defenders or footballers on Twitter is testament to how vital Huth has been to everything we do, both on and off the pitch. Now if only he would stop heading over when well-placed at set-pieces...
MARK CHAMBERLAIN (125 apps 1982-85)
I WAS lucky enough to catch the twilight of Chamberlain's Stoke career, and I remember being dismayed once when he didn't play because he'd been caught drink-driving.
I imagined this meant his dad was punishing him for downing a bottle of Tizer as he sauntered along the "D" Road. The punishment didn't fit the crime, I complained at the time.
CHRIS KAMARA (60 apps 1988-90)
TO be honest, he wasn't that great, but I need someone to do all the running for my other central midfielder, and boy could this guy tackle.
I won't be asking for his advice on team selection and possible signings, mind.
NIGEL GLEGHORN (166 apps 1992-96)
IN 1996, this clever play-maker with a superb eye for a pass and exceptional positional sense did something which ranks as the number one miracle in all my time watching Stoke: he managed to make Ray Wallace and Graham Potter look good.
He also mastered the art of scoring deflected goals from the edge of the box, long before John Terry's fat mate made a career out of it.
MATTHEW ETHERINGTON (156 apps 2009-present)
FOR all his many assists and occasional goals, I loved Etherington the most for his ability to relieve the pressure when the likes of Leon Cort and Danny Collins were desperately battling to keep far more talented opponents at bay.
When the ball was at this guy's feet, the other team couldn't score, simple as that.
His serious knee injury before the FA Cup final marked the beginning of a slump we still haven't recovered from.
RICARDO FULLER (208 apps 2006-12)
A GENIUS who stands alone in the modern era. With Fuller on the pitch you always had the chance of a goal, even when Tony Pulis had barricaded the other 10 players into their own goalmouth like cattle inside an electric fence.
How we miss him today.
Sorry Crouchy and Kenwyne, but you just don't compare.
MARK STEIN (134 apps 1991-93 & 1996-97)
I ONCE met the great man and was devastated to discover he was taller than me.
For all his unforgettable goal of the season contenders, it was his ability to get a goal when we needed one the most which made him so special.
ASMIR BEGOVIC (90 apps 2010-present)
SOMETIMES brilliant, sometimes naïve, I think we're five years away from seeing this guy at his best.
IAN CRANSON (218 apps 1989-96)
THE pick of our mean defence from the early 1990s, he scored some vital goals in the 1993 promotion season too.
DANNY HIGGINBOTHAM (128 apps 2006-07 & 2008-2013)
HIS calming influence was massively missed in the cup final when a few of our players were struck by nerves.
RORY DELAP 208 apps 2006-present)
IMPACT sub, for his throw-ins, and cover for Gleghorn as the clever midfielder who can't run.
PETER BEAGRIE (61 apps 1988-89)
IF he wasn't so rude about Stoke as a pundit, my childhood hero would have made my first XI.
PETER HOEKSTRA (78 apps 2001-04)
HAD such a magical talent, even the most hard-knuckled Stoke City fans were prepared to overlook the fact he was a Grade A wimp.
KENWYNE JONES 109 apps 2005 & 2010-present)
LIKE someone you sign on Championship Manager, he has all the attributes even if he ultimately seems to let you down.
TONY PULIS (2002-05 & 2006-present)
FOR all his annoying habits, from signing players who the rest of the world apart from Dave Kemp knows have zero chance of fitting into his rigid system, to his love affair with the cage and the 0-0 draw, Pulis remains the antidote to everything I hate about modern day football, and to the things I've found most infuriating during many years of supporting Stoke.
Feign injury or take a dive, and Pulis will boot you through the door faster than a Brian Little side could sink to a four-goal home defeat against Bristol Rovers or Burnley.
And there's more chance of Johan Boskamp's team producing a backs-to-the-wall display of resilience than our Tone donning an Armani suit and trendy scarf as he pontificates outside his dugout in a strange crouching position.