Season 2002/3

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 08 May 2010

James O'Connor - West Bromwich Albion(£350,000)
#17
Centre midfield
d.o.b:01/09/79
Signed/Sold:Youth team/July 2003
Games in last season: 47
Goals in last season: 0
Total club games: 209/1
Total club goals: 22

Graduated from the youth team in the last throws of Brian Little's ill fated reign.

Became a regular almost instantly under Gary Megson, Gudjon Thordarson and finally Tony Pulis.

Tiger like midfielder with a good eye for goal and a mean tackle that saw him booked more than 12 times a season every year but never red carded for the Potters.

Left for West Brom in a £350,000 deal that was decided by a tribunal after he ran out his contract so he could decide where to go in his career.

Bjarni Gudjonsson - Released
#7
Right wing
d.o.b:26/02/79
Signed/Sold:March 2000/July 2003
Games in last season: 28/12
Goals in last season: 1
Total club games: 143/18
Total club goals: 17

Signed from Genk for £250,000 by his Dad former manager Gudjon Thordarson.

Looked disinterested at times during his fathers reign but was a player full of skill with an excellent cross.

When Steve Cotterill and then Tony Pulis took over he looke like a man with something to prove and worked a lot harder but found his chances limited and was released at the end of that season.

Scored a 25 yard drive on his debut in a 3-0 win over Blackpool.

Sergei Shtanuik - Dinamo Moscow(£100,000)
#5
Centre back
d.o.b:11/01/72
Signed/Sold: July 2001/July 2003
Games in last season: 47
Goals in last season: 3
Total club games: 95
Total club goals: 5

Commanding centre back who spearheaded Stoke's promotion and there relegation battle.

Signed on a free and proved a bargain as he was fantastic in the air and thwarted many an oppostion attack aswell as proving a valuable asset in the opponents box.

Left for a bargain £100,000 to return closer to his Belarus roots after his wife couldn't settle in England and Stoke agreed midway through there relegation battle season that he would be granted a move if he stayed to see out that season. 

Peter Handyside - Northwich Vics(Free)
#4
Centre back
d.o.b:31/07/74
Sigend/Sold:July 2001/August 2003
Games in last season: 47
Goals in last season: 0
Total club games: 88
Total club goals: 1

Signed on a free from Grimsby and played an integral part in at first getting promotion and then helping the club satve off relegation.

Formed a fantastic partnership with Sergei Shtanuik and this helped Stoke to there successes.

Left after avoiding relegation and moved onto Northwich Victoria. 

Andy Cooke - Antlers(Free)
#8
Striker
d.o.b:20/01/74
Signed/Sold: December 2000/July 2003
Games in last season: 25/7
Goals in last season: 6
Total club games: 78/24
Total club goals: 23

Shrewsbury born Stoke fan who although not a natural goalscorer always gave everything he could to help Stoke.

Brought for £300,000 from Burnley and formed a great partnership with Peter Thorne helping his fellow striker to score 21 goals in 16 games after Cooke signed.

Scored 6 goals during his last season with the club, which was Stoke's first back in Division 1.

Was released and moved to Korea to play with Jamie Cureton for the Antlers, before coming back and playing for Bradford and Shrewsbury. 

Steve Banks - Returned to Bolton after loan
#16
Goalkeeper
d.o.b:09/02/72
Signed/Sold: December 2002/May 2003
Games in last season: 16
Goals conceded in last season: 25
Clean sheets in last season: 5
Total club games: 16
Total goals conceded/clean sheets: 25/5

Took on the goalkeepers jersey from Neil Cutler in our first season back in division one and produced some excellent displays in a team that really struggled when he was in the team through no fault of his own.

Was brought in from Bolton and returned there at the end of that season.

Lost his place after Tony Pulis decided he needed Mark Crossley after a 6-0 thrashing at Nottingham Forest in February.

Mark Crossley - Returned to Fulham after loan
#28
Goalkeeper
d.o.b: 16/06/69
Signed/Sold: March 2002/May 2002
Games in last season: 12
Goals conceded in last season:6
Clean sheets in last season: 8
Total club games: 12
Total goals conceded/clean sheets: 6/8

Played amazingly and although only playing the last 2 and a bit months of the season was nearly voted player of the season as he conceded a goal every other game on average.

No doubt that he was the player who was mainly responsible for keeping Stoke up and avoid relegation.

Returned to Fulham but was a target for Stoke for a long time after.

Lee Mills -Telford(Free)
#9
Striker
d.o.b:10/07/70
Signed/Sold: January 2003/July 2003
Games in last season: 7/4
Goals in last season: 2
Total club games: 7/4
Total club goals: 2

Was a useful target man as Stoke battled against relegation.

Scored a cracking goal away at Norwich to open his account but rarely ever troubled the goal.

Left at the end of the season for Telford. 

Mark Williams - Returned to MK Dons after loan
#16
Centre back
d.o.b:28/09/70
Signed/Sold: March 2003/May 2003
Games in last season: 5/1
Goals in last season: 0
Total club games: 5/1
Total club goals: 0

Came to put a more experienced head in defence and played well when he was on the pitch although that didn't happen too often as selection and injuries kept him out quite a bit during his time at the club.

Returned to the newly named Milton Keynes Dons at the end of the season

Paul Warhurst - Returned to Bolton after loan
#27
Centre midfield
d.o.b;26/09/69
Signed/Sold: March 2003/May 2003
Games in last season: 4/1
Goals in last season: 1
Total club games: 4/1
Total club goals: 1

Played a part in the clubs avoidance of relegation in 2003 after joining from Bolton on a short term contract.

Showed class that was missing before his arrival with a delicate chip to open scoring v Rotherham.

Was a player who put his foot on the ball which is something Stoke lacked at the time and later moved on to Walsall.

Mark Wilson - Returned to Middlesbrough after loan
#20
Central midfield, Right wing
d.o.b:09/02/79
Signed/Sold: March 2003/May 2003
Games in last season: 3
Goals in last season: 0
Total club games: 3
Total club goals: 0

The former Manchester United graduate rarely got on during his spell on loan in the Potteries and was disappointing when he did step onto the field.

Returned to the Riverside Stadium and Middlesborough where he also struggled.

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