That Peter Crouch podcast: Tony Pulis on rattling Arsenal, Rory Delap & baseball caps

Tony Pulis and Peter Crouch
"Have a word, Crouchy, you could at least get my name right..."

Regular listeners to That Peter Crouch podcast will be well aware that one manager in particular has featured more than any other.

Crouch's seven years at Stoke City were largely overseen by Tony Pulis - or as co-host Chris Stark would say, Tony Poolis.

But what does TP make of that pronunciation? Why does he always wear a cap? And how did he find out about Rory Delap's long throw?

All is revealed on this week's show...

'Nobody has ever called me that'

BBC Radio 1 presenter Stark regularly reduces Crouch to laughter when discussing former Stoke, West Brom and Crystal Palace manager Pulis. But what does the man himself make of Stark's attempts to pronounce his name?

"Nobody has ever called me that, he should be fined every time he says it," said the Welshman.

"If you were a player it would be boss or gaffer. You wouldn't get close to saying my name!"

That settles that. It's Pulis, not Poolis.

'Wenger wanted long throw-ins banned'

Ricardo Fuller scores a header from a long throw-in by Rory Delap
Most teams struggled against the Delap throw. Some more than others...

Perhaps nothing encapsulates the Pulis era at Stoke better than the image of a titanic centre-half heading in one of midfielder Rory Delap's long throws.

Arsenal, in particular, could not deal with the direct approach, losing five out of eight games in Staffordshire between 2008 and 2014.

Long-serving Gunners manager Arsene Wenger was not a fan, saying: "You cannot say it is football any more. It is more rugby on the goalkeepers than football."

You won't be surprised to hear such complaints were music to Pulis' ears.

"I always want angles to get players motivated, to put fire into their bellies and something for the supporters to feed off," he said.

"When Wenger first said it, called us a rugby team, it was the third time on the bounce we had beaten them at home. He was avoiding the question of how could a team with much less talent than Arsenal, who don't spend anywhere near as much as Arsenal, who haven't got the facilities and capabilities of Arsenal, keep beating Arsenal.

"[Former Arsenal captain] Patrick Vieira told me: 'We used to hate going to Stoke. You were the only club that Wenger actually talked about and worked on before. We just couldn't beat you.'

"Wenger came one year and complained about the grass being too long. He wrote a letter to the FA. The referees and the linesmen had to come and measure the grass. I know he talked about banning throw-ins and saying they shouldn't be allowed. That was all music to our ears.

"We only found out Rory Delap could throw the ball like that when the lads had a competition. He picked it up and hurled it to the back post. I'd never seen anything like it. He threw it flat.

"We pulled him to one side and asked him and it turned out he was javelin champion at school. It just went from there. We used it as a wonderful weapon. We stumbled on it. Liverpool now have a throw-in coach - when we were using Rory we were getting dogs' abuse.

"As soon as I saw him throw it I thought, every time we get up the pitch we'll use that. It's like having eight or nine extra corners a game.

"Psychologically teams would be affected. We went to West Ham and they had moved the advertising boards in to stop him - so he just threw it from behind the boards. He still hit the middle of the goal."

'I'll never wear a suit on the touchline'

Tony Pulis
TP won 169 of his 464 games in charge of Stoke, across two spells

Pulis also talks about signing Crouch from Tottenham, his near mythical naked fight with James Beattie, and his unlikely love for a Martina Navratilova cookbook.

But most importantly of all, why did he always wear everything from the club shop?

"I started wearing a cap at Priestfield when I was Gillingham manager and we got promoted. The following year it was on and off and we finished mid-table.

"I decided then that I would get a baseball cap and use it all the time. I was losing my hair at a young age and it kept me warm, going up north in the third division.

"But I don't care what I look like. As soon as the game kicks off I'm oblivious to everything.

"You get so wrapped up in the game. I feel I have to be there, close to the pitch. It's my team, my players, my group. I'll never be a suit manager."

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