Shawcross, Sidibe and Bardsley on team-sheet as Stoke City see off Barcelona

Stoke City under-11s finished third at the Meyrin Cup in Switzerland.
-Credit: (Image: Stoke City)

Well done to Stoke City under-11s, who beat Barcelona on their way to finishing third at a tournament in Switzerland.

There are some familiar names in this young Stoke side at the Meyrin Cup, with Luca Shawcross, Renz Bardsley and Bilal Sidibe following in the footsteps of their dads Ryan, Phil and Mama, and brother Sol too in Bilal’s case. Particular congratulations are due to Isaac Riley, who was named as best keeper in the tournament, and Benjamin Molloy, who won the golden boot.

It was a 2-0 win over Barca and they saw off Benfica, Lyon and Genk too to win their group. They went 11 matches in a row without conceding a goal in all, beating Lyon 1-0 in the quarter-finals before finally falling 2-0 to eventual champions Lausanne-Sport.

A penalty shoot-out win over Deportivo de La Coruna in the third-place play-off secured a bronze medal, and coach Theo Brierley said: “The players represented the football club brilliantly and played some great football. They will have learned a great deal about tournament football and the pressure you need to deal with to win competitions.”

Just in case you’re wondering, there is a Whitehead, a Walters and another Bardsley in the higher age groups of Stoke’s academy.

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Midfield marriages

Congratulations too are due to midfield duo Jordan Thompson and Josh Laurent, who have both got engaged during the close-season. Not to each other, we should probably point out, no matter how well they were linking up during the final weeks of the season.

Thompson has gone on to meet up with his old Stoke pals Harry Souttar, Jacob Brown, Tyrese Campbell and Alfie Doughty in the sun in Spain.

Stadium work starts quickly

Work to install the standing barriers in the upper section of the south stand at the bet365 Stadium started pretty much as soon as the season finished.

Planning permission for the new 1,550-capacity fan zone behind the Boothen End was signed off by Stoke-on-Trent City Council last week. It will have a stage and food and drink kiosks, a children’s play zone and a big screen.

Documents submitted by the club show how it will be used for pre- and most-match events and entertainment, fan engagement events, music and entertainment, company conferences and the screening of events such as the Euros and World Cup or movie nights.

“While many sporting venues have been providing some form of pre- and post-match entertainment for years, the delivery of such services is now becoming far more structured and sophisticated,” it was noted in a statement. “Fan zones are starting to be created on site at most major stadiums and can also increasingly be found within smaller sports grounds. Such zones – also referred to as Fan Villages – will usually open a few hours before the main event gets underway and often reopen following the final whistle.

“They will include a range of bars, eateries and entertainment, along with shops and other merchandise offerings, such as shirt printing facilities. Live music and performances are now a regular fixture at many, along with family-friendly activities.

“Fans and visitors nowadays are paying for an ‘experience’. They want the whole package and what venues deliver at every stage of the process will impact on the perceived value of their proposition. In short, customer experiences could be the difference between achieving healthy ticket sales and successfully encouraging return visits or losing out.”

Anniversaries this week

May 24, 2009 – 4-1 loss to Arsenal: Carl Dickinson (final league appearance)

May 24, 2015 - 6-1 win over Liverpool: Asmir Begovic, Steven Nzonzi (final league appearances)

May 25 – birthdays: Paul Johnson (65), Paul Peschisolido (53)

May 27 – birthday: Bobby Cairns (born on this day 1929, died 1998)

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