Sow Little Respect – Remembering Kenwyne Jones and the Pig’s Head

Making his TFN debut, Will Lawrence reflects on a prank gone wrong at Stoke City…

Back in spring 2013, The Beast was simply the childish nightmare of some stranded boys in the classic novel Lord of the Flies. Premier league footballers, too caught up in the making of daisy chains and the arranging of cones into flower patterns, were blissfully unaware of the sinister secret that lay within their sport.

But one day in May, The Beast was summoned to what became one of the darkest and most desperate places on earth: the Stoke City dressing room. The culprit was reportedly Glen Whelan, known previously as an average midfield player, but since exposed as the ruler of a savage, otherworldly kingdom which exists somewhere near the M6.

Having not been satisfied with the egging of Michael Owen’s Mercedes, The Beast demanded the sacrifice of Kenwyne Jones’ dignity. “We are going to have fun on this island. Understand?”. Whelan and friends duly delivered. The Trinidad born striker found a bloody, severed pig’s head hidden in his locker. Jones is a Rastafarian and so does not eat pork. He was understandably furious, going on to hit the target with a well­-aimed brick smashed through Whelan’s windscreen. Continue reading

TFN’s Pre-Season Picks

Huddersfield Town pre-season training at Canalside.

It’s that time of year again. Players are returning to their clubs to start training and pre-season has begun. The False Nine have scoured the schedules of clubs up and down the country and picked out some of our favourite pre-season friendlies…

1. Whitehawk vs. Brighton and Hove Albion – 6th July, The Enclosed Ground


Brighton won many plaudits last season for the attractive football played under Gus Poyet and new manager Oscar Garcia has promised to maintain this style. As a former Barcelona player and youth manager, Garcia is no stranger to attacking, free-flowing play. In his first friendly at the helm, Brighton take on Whitehawk, a local non-league side who won promotion to the Conference South last season. Recently, a plan was floated to change their name to ‘Brighton City’ in order to put them on the map but for now they remain as Whitehawk. Does this represent something of a local ‘Brighton Derby’ then? Ties between the clubs are not uncommon and Whitehawk are managed by former Brighton winger Darren Freeman. Continue reading

In defence of Stoke City: an asset to the Premier League


The problem with Stoke City is complacency not brutality argues Greg Johnson

Next season Tony Pulis will be the second longest serving manager in the Premier League after Arsene Wenger, but in that time, what has he achieved with Stoke City?

Compared to the standards most other clubs measure themselves by, not a lot. Silverware has been non-existant and plaudits scarce, with the only stability being the certainty of an annual clamour for 40 points each season.

While provincial clubs to struggling to keep their head above water in the top-flight is nothing new, since their promotion in 2008, Stoke have spent £80M, and currently rank as the third highest net spend in the division.

Rather than trophies, popularity or sustainability, Pulis’ greatest accomplishment is the fear factor generated by his team of brutish giants and jilted cast-offs.

Stoke are the scourge of the Premier League, and they revel in their reputation. In fact, the league itself revels in their infamy, with the Potters now an unlikely asset to the branded tapestry of the English game. Continue reading

Stoke City: Stoking the Fire in Nobody’s Hearts

Stoke throw

A result against Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland on Monday would see Stoke City all but confirm their Premier League status for yet another year, but would anyone really miss Tony Pulis’ team if they were to slip out of the top-flight? Simon Smith explores the source of Stoke’s infamy…

There was a brief moment when Stoke City looked to be on the verge of a surprise relegation to the Championship, much to the nation’s delight. That moment has now ended and we are stuck with the Potters for another season of the long ball game, Pulis’ seemingly limitless supply of baseball caps, cold wet Wednesday nights at the Brittania, and a swinging low of a certain sweet chariot. To make matters worse, it seems the third team to go down might be nice sexy Wigan Athletic, who we for some reason love out of a combination of the hilarity of a village remaining in the Premier League while big city clubs like Birmingham slog it a league below, and the luscious Martinez’s continental ideas like passing, playing three at the back, and calling Franco di Santo a striker.

This season is shaping up to be their worst since promotion, with survival only really secured by beating an absolutely abject QPR side. At no point were the hipsters gushing over Delap’s throwing range but there was something of an acceptance and appreciation during their first few seasons that has since completely deserted them. Have they hit their ceramic-pottery ceiling or is there scope to kick on? In short: where did it all go wrong for Stoke?

Well, in lots of places. The transfers have been touted as a big cause of both Stoke’s decline and their increasing unpopularity, as big spending without any perceivable reason so often is. Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome, Tuncay Şanlı, Peter Crouch; I appreciate there is a need for a squad of players but surely the endless replacement for replacement’s sake has done nothing for the quality of play. Would one world class striker not be better than these four? OK, the chances of Stoke city luring Edinson Cavani are slim to nil, but signings should really be made only if there is a problem to be fixed or a chance to improve the squad. These have achieved neither. Perhaps most damning of all is that Walters is a starting eleven stalwart even now: as a player I hugely admire everything about his determination, commitment and even some aspects of his ability in terms of what he adds to the attack. Still, the fact that a multitude of attackers has been bought without any finding a way to displace him is baffling.  Continue reading

English Football Must Sort Out Scrambled Values

In another dramatic week for the FA, False Nine editor James Dutton questions their priorities…
To coincide with this week’s international break and a dearth of football on the television, attention throughout the media has focussed on the controversies which are wreaking havoc in the game. Dives, elbows and stamps have been universally condemned, individuals, none more so than Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, constantly vilified. Their actions are, however, compounded by the selective blindness coursing through the game’s governing body in this country. Continue reading