Britannia History Season 08/09
Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2009
A return to the top flight and an amazing 45 points, 12th place and the making of a fortress
Record season ticket sales of 16,500 were just an indication of the support that was to come as fans attached themselves to new heroes including A.D Faye, James Beattie and Thomas Sorenson aswell as old ones Ricardo Fuller, Liam Lawrence and Ryan Shawcross. The ground was constantly packed out and the fans won numerous plaudits, including the title of loudest fans in the country, whilst the skill and spirit of the team were a joy to watch.
The season started with the Potters being written off and the media talk was whether we would get past Derby's record low tally of 11 points. After an opening day 3-1 defeat away at Bolton, Paddy Power bookmakers even paid out on all bets for the Potters to be relegated.
That seemed premature at the time and even more so a week later as Aston Villa were put to the sword as Stoke were twice pegged back before Mama Sidibe's 94th minute header settled this five goal thriller.
Rory Delap's throw ins were getting the whole footballing world talking, Sky Sports News dedicated a week to the Irishman after a November defeat of Arsenal when two Delap throw ins set up the goals.
Away form was worrying as the Potters slipped to defeats on a regular basis, and when the red and whites had consecutive home defeats, albeit to top 5 sides Chelsea and Everton, it looked as though the Potters were set for a season of struggle. There were only to be two more home defeats all season, Manchester United ran out undeserved winners on Boxing day and West Ham won an end of season game in May, as the Britannia became one of the most feared grounds to visit in the country, the hostile support and up-and-at-em team spirit seeing off many sides.
Five wins in a row at home in all competitions, including that famous victory over Arsenal, got the Potters season back on track and Tony Pulis side were starting to look comfortable only for an 11-game winless streak to snd them spirally back towards the bottom of the table.
A 1-0 win over Manchester City, even though we were reduced to 10 men after half an hour with the game goalless, ended that run and with the away form still struggling, the Potters didn't win away until April when they got the usual three points from their trip to West Brom, but home wins over relegation rivals Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Bolton along with with draws against Newcastle and Portsmouth saw the Potters head to Hull, with 3 games left, needing a point to get to the magical 40 point barrier.
A 2-1 win sealed survival and a fitting two nil victory over Wigan in the final home game set up a party at the Emirates Stadium on the final day and even though the Potters found themselves 4-1 down at half time the fans continued to party and applaud the players in recognition of the superb season they had had.
The Potters ended on 45 points and that ended up being 11 points more than was needed to stave off relegation as a comfortable mid-table position was where we ended up. The players and management must now look to avoid 'second season syndrome' and help the Potters cement themsleves as an established top flight side
36-Thomas Sorensen(35/1), Rory Delap(36/0), Abdo Faye(36/0)
22-Amdy Faye(18/4), Liam Lawrence(19/3)
21-Andy Griffin(18/3), Seyi Olofinjana(17/4), Salif Diao(19/2)
16-Ibrahima Sonko(9/7), James Beattie(16/0)
14-Leon Cort(11/3), Matthew Etherington(12/2)
8-Tom Soares(6/2), Vincent Pericard(5/3)
2-Demar Phillips(0/2), Lewis Buxton(2/0)
1-Ryan Shotton(0/1), Dominic Matteo(0/1), Jon Parkin(1/0)
3-Liam Lawrence(P), Glenn Whelan, Ryan Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye
2-Rory Delap, O.G., Seyi Olofinjana
1-Richard Cresswell, Jon Parkin, Vincent Pericard, Danny Higginbotham(P), Danny Pugh