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Stoke City Secret Weapon Revealed (For What It Is)

Rory Delap. Stoke City maestro. Exponent of the greatest footballing philosophy of our time, set to be passed down from generation to generation… the long throw.

Forget ‘pass and move’ or ‘push and run’, because the ‘noughties’ will be remembered in the echoes of time for the Stoke City icon’s uncanny ability to throw really, really far.

So pull your scouts away from junior sized pitches on cold Sunday mornings, and get them to the athletics track fast. Because if you find a kid that looks like he can throw a mean javelin, sign him up. Or perhaps, just maybe, this ability to throw isn’t a fantastic new phenomenon or even the new Jesus. Maybe, it’s just a really annoying occurrence that for the sake of football had better be a one off.

Some may argue that there’s nothing wrong with Stoke City using the ‘human sling’ to mix it up, and compete with the big boys, whose resources are far greater, and can afford more technically gifted players.

This is perfectly true, and I think, for example, Wenger’s desire to see long throws kicked in, instead of thrown in, is just sour grapes when his band of midgets get turned over at the Britannia Stadium. However, what can be quite frustrating, is the plaudits Stoke City and Rory Delap get for having such a ‘weapon’.

In ‘Lee Dixon’s Tactical View’ on the BBC, Lee seems particularly fixated with the art of throwing,

“I have never seen anyone with a throw-in like Delap’s and I believe his missiles have created seven out of Stoke’s 13 league goals this season [2008/09 season]… From a throw-in the ball starts from six foot and it is the angle and trajectory of Delap’s darts that make them so potent. It is unbelievable how he does it – his throws come in flat like an arrow.”

Seriously Lee, it’s a throw mate. In fact, one might contend, that what is truly ‘unbelievable’ about the throw, is not only how many towels Stoke City must go through a season so Rory can dry the ball, but the time wasted while we wait for the ball to come back into play.

The ceremony is amazing. A ball boy hands Rory a towel (incidentally does the opposition get a towel?) and Delap inspects the ball, giving it a good wipe, then wastes more time adjusting his position on the touch line, moving behind the bill-boards, before finally throwing it. It’s possible that so many goals come from these ‘arrows’ (Delap already has 7 assists in all competitions this season) because by the time the ball comes back into play, the opposition defenders have fallen asleep.

Again, it is prudent to state that Delap’s throw is not something illegal, or even unethical. A 42 yard long throw is impressive, and Stoke are correct to utilise it. However, football fans must hope Delaps throw remains a one off, and Stoke tactics die with Delap’s eventual retirement. The throw brings little entertainment to anyone except perhaps Stoke supporters, and it is just boring.

Talking about Delap’s throws are boring. In fact, I’m starting to get bored as I type.

So in conclusion, it would be nice to see the officials stamping down on Delap’s extended throw-on ceremony so the rest of us can enjoy a flowing match of football. There is nothing wrong with utilising a long throw, but it IS anti-football, and if all Premier League teams followed this route of percentage football, viewing figures and attendances would drop quickly.

However, whilst Delap is still chucking the ball into the opposition half with such gusto, it’d be nice if Delap hurried the process along a bit. The rest of us want to watch a football match.

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Article title: Stoke City Secret Weapon Revealed (For What It Is)

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