STRESS does strange things to people. Sometimes it can inspire them. It certainly inspired one Stoke City fan to leave perhaps the most astonishing, beautiful and uplifting message ever left on BBC Radio Stoke’s answerphone.
No one knows who Potter Mouth is. All that is known about him is this; when Stoke became the umpteenth club in this season’s Championship promotion race to self-destruct as the Premier League beckoned, he decided to leave a voicemail message for Radio Stoke football reporter John Acres.
“I’m ringing up, John, because of what’s going on down Stoke,” the message begins. “We’re getting close, aren’t we John? Close to the Prem.
“But we’re wobbling. We’re wobbling! And we’re all nervous. The players seem nervous as well. We’re all quivering wrecks and we don’t know what to do.
“Well I’ve done all I can, John. I wrote something to inspire the squad before the last four matches. And they want to play this, John. Put it on a tape; put some music behind it or summat.
“Pass it on to Pulis and get him to play this for the squad. It’s going to inspire them, this is, John, for the next few matches. This is Potter Mouth’s battle cry.”
And then, he launched into an impassioned poem namechecking just about every landmark in Stoke, and just about every famous person connected with the city.
Video: Potter Mouth’s battle cry
Acres set it to background music – from ‘The Planets’ Suite’ by Holst – played it on his Friday night sports show (called, brilliantly, ‘Praise and Grumble’) and Stoke haven’t looked back since.
(The full story is on the BBC’s website.)
“This is a call to the men in red white,” it begins, “a heart-felt battle cry.” It then urges Stoke to win promotion by thinking of all the great and good things about Stoke.
“Do it for Trentham Gardens/Do it for Mow Cop/Do it for Pat McGarry and his paper shop,” goes one verse.
“Do it for lime kiln bank/Do it for Nick Hancock/Do it for Sam Plank,” goes another.
“Do it for Longton bus station/For the shirt on yer back/Do it for owd Grandad Piggott/And for Club-paper Jack,” goes another, before reaching a crescendo with the final verse.
“And we’ll be with you, every step along the way/Down the Brit, United and Arsenal, every week on Match of the Day/Do it for the Stokies around the world – near and far/Do it, do it Pulis, please do it.”
Stoke need a point against Leicester on Sunday to reach the Premier League. Let’s hope they do it. Please do it.