Their 2-1 victory over Chelsea 40 years ago in the 1972 League Cup Final at Wembley was rightly commemorated by a pitch side appearance from many of the victorious squad prior to Stoke's home game with Norwich.Any tears that appeared in the eyes of older fans were no doubt down to the typically biting wind that funnelled between the two open diagonal corners of the Brit.But it was difficult not to recall in your mind's eye the glorious images of the red and white striped heroes as they were half a lifetime away on a balmy day in London as they casually strode around the Britannia pitch complete with the ancient trophy.
|Stoke's 1972 winners 40 years after the event.|
Which team was fit to lace the others boots was predictably split down generational grounds,but there was a less controversial comparison between the 1972 side and the current Stoke side.The cliche around playing Stoke is that opponents enter the Land of the Giants,but with half the present side measuring in at 6 foot or less,it's never been a particularly accurate assessment.What is undeniable is the change in height,weight and body shape that has occurred across all teams over the 40 years that separates Stoke's last meaningful trophy success and the present day.
Home grown talent was the order of the day in the seventies. The entire back four were born in or around Stoke,Mick Pejic making the comparatively short jaunt in from Chesterton.All four players had also joined Stoke straight from school,meaning that a cup winning defence had been acquired at no cost to the club.Centre forward,John Ritchie was just about another Midlands lad,hailing from Kettering and the bulk of the rest of the side came appropriately enough from either the Red or the White Rose counties of Lancashire or Yorkshire.Only Terry Conroy and substitute on the day,John Mahoney weren't qualified to play for England as they came from as far a field as Dublin and Cardiff respectively.
By contrast with most other teams in the Premiership the Stoke eleven who ran out against Norwich also consisted predominately of home nations talent.However,only winger cum full back Ryan Shotton can claim one of the Six Towns as his birthplace.Fellow full back Andy Wilkinson is a Staffordshire lad,Peter Crouch and Ryan Shawcross were born in the next door county of Cheshire and of the three Irish qualified starters,only Glenn Whelan was born and bred in Ireland.A Bosnia keeper,a German centre half and a Cornish winger is the closest Pulis' line up comes to reflecting the cosmopolitan make up of the rest of the EPL.
Former keeper and present City President,Gordon Banks alone would be able to look down on the majority of the 2012 vintage Stoke side,but would struggle to look his successor,Asmir Begovic firmly in the eye.Full backs were traditionally small and compact and not lean and tall like the present day and for all their undoubted guts and skill both Smith and Bloor physically would hardly get a look in as potential center backs in the present era.Midfield is the area of most similarity across the ages,especially if Pulis had elected to play Pennant instead of Shotton,his versatile,play anywhere central defender.Both units were/are similar in height,although the present midfield would have a little more weight to throw around.Up front,Crouch is an obvious outlier.His strike partner John Walters is not really considered a big forward,but his similarly proportioned predecessor,the late John Ritchie was certainly described as an imposing character in his pomp.
Each player's BMI is included to get a feel for their general physique.As a guide,less than 20.2 is considered underweight,greater than 24.9 indicates overweight.
Comparisons Between Stoke's 1972 and 2012 Sides.
|Stoke 1972.||Height||Weight||BMI||Stoke 2012.||Height||Weight||BMI|
|G Banks||6-1||13-6||24.8||A Begovic||6-5||13-1||21.6|
|J Marsh||5-8||10-4||21.9||A Wilkinson||5-11||11-0||21.5|
|M Pejic||5-6||10-5||23.4||M Wilson||6-2||12-8||22.6|
|D Smith||5-11||12-0||23.1||R Huth||6-3||13-12||24.2|
|A Bloor||6-0||13-0||24.7||R Shawcross||6-3||12-0||21.0|
|M Bernard||5-9||10-10||22.1||D Whitehead||6-0||12-1||22.9|
|T Conroy||5-10||11-0||21.8||R Shotton||6-3||13-5||23.4|
|P Dobing||5-9||11-9||23.7||G Whelan||5-11||12-7||24.4|
|G Eastham||5-7||10-6||22.9||M Etherington||5-10||10-1||20.2|
|J Greenhoff||5-10||11-2||22.4||P Crouch||6-6||11-11||19.1|
|J Ritchie||6-0||12-4||23.3||J Walters||6-0||12-6||23.6|