The horror, the horror. For Ho Chi Minh City 1970 read Stoke Ming City 2010. A barechested Tony Pulis prowls the touchline wearing a cowboy hat and a terrifying smirk that might just curdle all the milky teas in the away stand. As Younes Kaboul’s dismembered head rolls past the corner flag, Pulis inhales a lungful of the thick smog that hangs over the Britannia Stadium. “It smells like victory,” he puffs.
Second in command Gerry ‘The Badger’ Francis stares down at his feet, still looking for that £20 note he lost 15 years ago when manager of Tottenham. The candy-striped hordes bay for blood, broken bodies are strewn across the pitch, limbs fly through the air at impossible angles, the crack of bone is audible under Ryan Shawcross’ ubiquitous boot and those terrifying screams of the Tottenham fallen pierce the eardrum.
“Me foul you long time,” cries Shawcross with almost devilish glee. But from somewhere in the cocktail of mud and blood a hero emerges. A young Welshman with a crack shot and an absence of fear. As the howling natives shift restlessly in their seats, Gareth Bale bundles home a rebound before Ricardo Fuller scores and the baying crowd roars its approval, the scent of enemy claret burning their nostrils.
And then it happens, Aaron Lennon’s flighted ball drops from an acute angle, Bale dips a shoulder and arrows a deadly volley into the top right hand corner. Pulis jumps on his cowboy hat. “Charlie don’t surf!” he screams.
Vedran Corluka jogs past him with a bemused look on his face. "Yes, I do."