Dave's Progress. Chapter 119: An Inspiring Victory.

Yesterday Stoke City Football Club played against Bolton in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup. And, wait for it, ladies and gentlemen... they won. Not only that, they won emphatically. The final score was 5-0 in favour of Stoke. This will mean that for the first time in the club's 148 year history, they will be appearing in the final of the F.A. Cup at Wembley Stadium in London in around a month's time, when they will play against Manchester City.
The success of Stoke City has seemingly had a far-reaching effect. Not only are fans of the club beside themselves with joy (we were told by our local radio station that grown men actually cried after seeing the game), but it has given a whole uplift to the city in which I live. Even as a fan of Port Vale (a local, rival team), I myself can not help but be pleased by this inspiring victory.
As one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of the country, living in Stoke-on-Trent can sometimes be, how can I say it, depressing. With high levels of unemployment, illness and things like fuel poverty, it has to be said that Stoke is not always the most pleasant place to live. Talking of aesthetics alone, it is obvious that, in many areas, Stoke is urgently in need of repair. Even some of the attempts at regeneration in the city have been deemed failures. And, if one has been away from the area, then pulling in to Stoke station one is immediately hit by just how unkempt and deprived the city has become. Looking out at the once heaving industrial mass, one is hit by the greyness and the poverty which seems to veritably leak from the pores of the city. Even the city folk, often praised for their kindness and friendliness, appear to have developed a nastier side, and I doubt that anyone over the age of 25 would dare set foot in our city centre on a Friday or Saturday night for fear of some sort of explosion of drunken violence.
So, when I say that Stoke needs something good to happen to it, I am perhaps understating the whole thing. And Stoke's victory yesterday was perhaps more than just a football game, in that it has given a boost to our ailing city. The fact that grown men cried at such an event was indicative to me of a somewhat forgotten pride and loyalty, not only to a football team, but to our entire area. Even though we sometimes criticise the area ourselves, it seems we still, deep down, have a love and affection for it, which makes its economic and social collapse upsetting to see.
So, here's to Stoke City and to Stoke-on-Trent, our city. So often failing, so often belittled, but now riding high on the back of this inspiring victory.
And, speaking of "inspiration", my good friend klahanie, aka Gary, has awarded me, together with nine other bloggers, the "you are an inspiration" award. So, I thank him for that and for thinking of me as an "inspiring" blogger. I can only hope that, in a small way, my blog has helped dismantle some of the appalling stigma which surrounds mental illness, a goal which I know is also close to Gary's heart.     


bazza said…
Hi Gary. I was neutral at the start of the game but was converted to Stoke's cause by the way they played. It was thoroughly enjoyable and now I hope they can beat the money-men of Manchester City but even if they don't they will be able to say "this was their finest hour".
Up the Hammers!
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
GEM said…
Hi Gary

I have found myself over here through Klahanie's Inspiration Award post and being a Leeds fan myself I'm not fussed who wins the final however, I am thrilled that Man Utd got knocked out! It would however be good to see the "Underdog" Stoke win and inspire it's city's citizens to not give up and strive for a better future! Whatever happens I'm sure it will be an exciting final.

Best Regards
dcrelief said…
Hi David.

Did I miss something; everyone is calling you Gary?
I've been following the football fun with the help of a friend who lives in England. She and her children were so, so excited about the recent win!

There's always room for hope. Here you can adopt a street and keep it clean. We have volunteer groups that clean parks, or other public areas. It's been a very sucessful program.

Congratulations on the award!! Your thoughts, aspirations, and history are an inspiration; keep writing.

Much regard,
David said…
Dear bazza,
The final at Wembley will probably indeed be Stoke's "finest hour" and the whole thing, as I say, seems to have put smiles on the faces of the Stokey populace.
Thanks for the comment, bazza, but plese stop calling me Gary!
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear Gem,
Thanks for commenting. One does hope that now Stoke are through to the final, they can go on and win. It is nice to see that even a Leeds fan can lend support to the "underdogs"- in true British fashion, might I add.
Hope you visit again,
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thanks as ever for your support.
I have not changed my name, I just think that some confusion has been caused by good old bazza at the top there, so now all new-comers to the site will think my name is Gary. Oh well, being likened to my old, hirsute, hippy friend klahanie aint so bad!
Thanks once again and with Very Best Wishes,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Sincerest apologies for my late arrival. As you know, I work through my blog list and after four hours and sixteen comments to other bloggers, finally, I have arrived.
Actually, I had read this posting the other day, but had this urge to actually get some sleep. Nothing to do with your posting, I might add.
That result by Stoke City creates a 'feel good factor' and for a city that is and has gone through some very depressing times, such events as that historic win for Stoke, can be, most assuredly, a positive tonic, a pleasurable distraction.
I share a certain affection for Stoke on Trent. I do consider the folks most pleasant and the surrounding countryside is only a few minutes away.
Thanks for your notation in regards to me. You were a most obvious recipient for that inspirational award. You have an important message that needs to be heard. Indeed, as you alluded too, our goal of eliminating the unfair stigma attached to mental health issues, is a passion we both very much share.
Very kind wishes, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your comment and kind remarks.
Hopefully, as I say above, Stoke can now go on and win the FA Cup, which will give the city even more of a boost.
Looking forward to seeing you soon, Gare.
With Very Best Wishes,
bazza said…
Sorry David. I think I called Gary David once! Doh!
I hope the win bolsters support for your area, David. It is a grand achievement, and the emotional reaction of others solidifies its value. May something good come from all of it.

I would have to say, though, you are a shining advocate for your community. Not only for your community, but for those who endure mental disabilities. Your star is rising, my friend.:)

May your voice be heard...May you always shine...

David said…
Dear bazza,
Thank you for the apology. I think that once I called you Gazza, so perhaps we are even.
Yours with all the best,
David said…
Dear M.,
Thank you for such kind and inspiring remarks. I do hope that in some small way my blog offers hope to those who have had similar experiences.
Indeed, I hope that your own voice is heard too, as it so obviously deserves to be.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,

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