In an extract from our upcoming book Following Football, we hear from Stoke City fan Michelle Convey about the importance of the club to her family and a memorable night away in Croatia.
We all love our football clubs and one of the best things about being a football fan is getting to share in those moments of delight, fury, sadness and triumph with other fans. Football is a sport that can have you laughing, crying and hugging with complete strangers every weekend. With our featured Stoke fan we are taking that to the next level. Michelle Convey lives in Dorset, a full 200 miles from Stoke and when she first met her future husband Patrick, they had an unusual first date. Not dinner and a movie, but a trip to the old Victoria Ground to see the Potters take on their historical rivals Port Vale.
This set the standard for their relationship and football has been a regular feature in the years since. They tied the knot on top of Table Mountain in South Africa when they were away supporting England in 2010, (at least they had some happy memories), and they even went so far as to include Stoke City in their vows!
As you can see in the above picture she promised to be Patrick’s greatest (Stoke) fan and she has certainly kept her vow. The family make the incredible 440 mile round trip to the Bet365 Stadium each match day!
While Michelle’s best day as a Stoke fan was undoubtably the team’s promotion to the Premier League in 2007/08 she has also, thanks to the team’s continued success, had the opportunity to follow Stoke away in Europe with a trip to Croatia to see them play Hajduk Split sticking out as a highlight.
Arriving in to Dubrovnik just five hours before kick off, the Conveys still had to make the three hour journey to Split to see the game. “It was an amazing trip”, said Michelle, “the roads were just full of Hajduk Split fans, scarves out of the windows, people shouting, horns going! They didn’t know we we were Stoke fans! To them we were just a family of three on holiday!”
Arriving at their accommodation they were running out of time but could hear Stoke fans singing in the distance. They stopped a passing Police officer for directions and amazingly he offered them a lift to the ground!
The game itself was a tight but exciting affair, the crowd were vocal from start to finish with the home fans setting off flares, filling the stands with red light and the stadium with smoke. Disaster for the home team arrived when a Split defender turned Dean Whitehead’s cross into his own net but it sparked delirium among the travelling Stoke City faithful. Despite their disappointment with the result, Michelle said that the Split supporters in the stadium were very friendly as the game ended, “The Split fans we’re exchanging scarves with Stoke fans through the fence after the game”.
As is usual at many away trips, there was a heavy Police presence, but Michelle and her young daughter were not put off by it, in fact it might have made it even more memorable! “I moved as the Stoke fans were chanting at the Split fans and obviously they were doing it back. We had Sapphire, our daughter with us she, and she was probably about 7 or 8….better safe than sorry but she loved it!”
While things have been a little bit tougher at Stoke of late, the Conveys are still travelling to all of the Potters home games and will be looking forward to their next European adventure.
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