Just look at what COULD happen in our neck of the woods in 2013

Port Vale striker Tom Pope is set for a big year in 2013.

Port Vale striker Tom Pope is set for a big year in 2013.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and a New Year to boot.
As we shrug off the hangovers and stare balefully into the slate grey skies I, for one, am determined to be positive.
You know, I think 2013 might be alright if my crystal ball is anything to go by.
Here’s what COULD happen in the next 12 months…

*Stoke City qualify for the Europa League two months before the end of the season on account of not having lost a game at the Brit since 2003.
Sir Alex Ferguson gives Tony Pulis ‘the hairdryer’ for not having the decency to sell England defender Ryan Shawcross back to him – muttering something like: “He forgets all the favours I’ve done him” and mentions Stoke being “just a wee club in the Midlands”.
Potters striker Michael Owen then wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. Like his three predecessors – Tony McCoy, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins – Owen takes the crown after spending his entire sporting year sitting down. (Joke © The Sentinel’s Sportsdesk)
*Sir Alex Ferguson is left tearing what’s left of his hair out as Tom Pope turns down a multi-million pound move to Old Trafford as a like-for-like replacement for Wayne Rooney.
Explaining his decision to The Sentinel, the Pontiff – whose 40 goals fire Port Vale to automatic promotion – said: “What’s Salford Quays got that I conna get in Sneyd Green, youth?”
Port Vale Supporters’ Club begins fund-raising for a statue of Pope, scheduled to be completed to coincide with the 27-year-old’s 40th birthday celebrations.
Meanwhile, in honour of the Burslem club’s success, the city council lifts the ban on Vale players urinating in the bushes at Hanley Forest Park.
*In a bid to save money Stoke-on-Trent City Council ditches plans to relocate its Civic HQ from Stoke to Hanley in favour of a move to neighbouring Newcastle.
Explaining the decision, council leader Mohammed Pervez said most people considered Newcastle to be in the Potteries anyway, even it was “a bit posher”.
However, councillors in the Loyal and Ancient Borough start a petition against the proposals – barricading themselves into the Guildhall until those riff-raff have gone away.
*In an attempt to improve Stoke-on-Trent’s image in the wake of the disastrous BBC documentary The Year The Town Hall Shrank, council leader Mohammed Pervez agrees to star in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
After successfully completing several Bushtucker trials councillor Pervez is narrowly beaten into third place by the pretend opera singer off the Go Compare telly adverts and a kangaroo named Dave.
Mr Pervez, however, remains upbeat – claiming he has “put the city on the map” and reveals he has persuaded Ant and Dec to appear in The Regent Theatre’s pantomime.
*Buoyed by his appearance on ITV1, city council leader Mr Pervez unveils the authority’s latest cost-cutting initiatives.
These include only four out of five council workmen being allowed to loaf about for two hours at lunchtime.
*Staff at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery are put in celebratory mood once more following the discovery of a further 700 pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard in a field near Lichfield.
After farmer Fred Johnson ploughs the earth deeper than a Rory Delap throw-in, he churns up Excalibur, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail as well as the missing tail fin from the city’s Spitfire RW388.
The museum’s Principal Collections Officer Deb Klemperer tells The Sentinel that experts hope to have worked out what the new finds actually are before she retires in 2050.
*Staffordshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis unveils his radical new idea to solve the force’s acute staffing shortage.
After appointing his sixth deputy, Mr Ellis tells the media he will be handing out police uniforms to anyone who wants one, adding: “This is the Big Society in action. The genius of the idea is that the crims won’t know who’s a real copper and who isn’t.”
The Sentinel’s crime reporter thinks he’s joking until he hands her a canister of CS spray some flashing blue lights for her motor.
*Local radio stations run another story claiming The Sentinel is closing down.
The Sentinel’s Editor-in-Chief responds by publishing a 148-page supplement to mark the paper’s 148th anniversary – including all the stories the paper has beaten the radio stations to during the previous week.
*Developers of the new multi-million City Sentral retail complex on the site of the former Hanley Bus Station announce they have attracted another big name store to the development.
Poundland confirms it will be employing up to six part-time staff at its new superstore.
A spokesman for the shopping complex reveals the name is also to be changed after a huge public outcry because City Sentral is “clearly a bit daft”.
Expect the new Jonny Wilkes Centre to be open in
time for Christmas.
What are your hopes for 2013?

Hoard remains to key to success of Cultural Quarter despite funding setback

It costs eight dollars for adults and four dollars for children but I’m told by a colleague that it’s well worth the admission price.
The National Geographic Museum in downtown Washington is a state-of-the-art, interactive tourist attraction.
And right now the top draw at this top drawer venue is our very own Staffordshire Hoard and the powers-that-be there are making the most of its one and only U.S. appearance.
Want to build your own medieval helmet? No problem.
Want to learn about the epic Beowulf saga poem, Anglo-Saxon culinary expressions or wheat-weaving and corn dollies? It’s all there. Fancy going exploring with your family? Just grab a field guide and backpack to help you get the most out of the Hoard exhibition by ‘looking, moving, touching and doing’.
This is history how it should be taught. Dark Age history enlightened by modern technology and made accessible to all.
Contrast this then with the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery’s first attempts to showcase the Hoard.
Granted, museum staff will admit that the initial exhibition was thrown together in miraculous fashion in a space which wasn’t really suitable.
But while it may not have put off the tens of thousands of visitors who flocked to view samples of this breathtaking discovery, what our little display has done is highlight the Hanley venue’s shortcomings.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is a building which hasn’t really moved on in two decades.
Yes, it has a world-renowned collection of ceramics and a dedicated friends group but I’m afraid that isn’t enough to make it a decent tourist venue.
The fact is if you don’t like pots then I’m afraid you’re going to be rather disappointed.
Take our Spitfire exhibit, for example. The creator of the fighter plane that turned the tide of the Battle of Britain was born down the road in Butt Lane but our tribute to his work of genius is something of an embarrassment, if we’re honest.
The Spitfire is tucked away in a darkened room and overlooked by a mannequin which wouldn’t seem out of place in an infant school art department.
Aside from this, the rest of the museum is a hotch-potch of displays – sort of like Bargain Hunt crossed with a taxidermy conference.
All this changed, of course, when we acquired a share of the Staffordshire Hoard. Or rather, it should have done.
Museum staff knew only too well that the Hoard presented a wonderful opportunity to transform the city centre venue from a rather niche tourist attraction into a major player.
However, news that a major funding bid for a permanent Hoard exhibition in Stoke-on-Trent has been turned down by the Arts Council is a major blow – and not just for the 13 museum employees whose jobs have been put at risk.
It is worth saying that the Birmingham Museums Trust bid was successful. Why am I not surprised?
We have brilliant and passionate staff at the Potteries Museum who did us proud at short notice with regard to the Hoard.
People like collections officer Deb Klemperer with whom I shared a podium at the special Sentinel sneak-peek viewing of the Hoard the night before the exhibition opened.
They deserve our support as they pick themselves up after this latest disappointment and go back to the drawing board.
As Hanley prepares itself, via the ludicrously-named City Sentral, for the kind of regeneration not seen since the advent of the Potteries Shopping Centre, it is vital that the Cultural Quarter steps up to the mark.
If we finally get a bus station not reminiscent of Eastern European town during the Cold War along with a new, multi-million pound shopping centre, then we must ensure our all-round offer to shoppers and visitors is of the highest standard.
We have a first class theatre and a museum that now has all the gear but no idea (or should I say no resources) of how to display its riches properly.
We must bid, bid and bid again for funding to display the Hoard in all its glory and position Stoke-on-Trent as the home of the Staffordshire Hoard.
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, has assured us that in spite of the failed hoard bid its “business as usual” at our museums.
That’s the problem though Mark, isn’t it? Business as usual means a few score visitors on a week day.
Remember the queues snaking around the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery when the Hoard first arrived?
Remember the excitement when we learned the bid to acquire this national treasure had been successful?
We must not lose the impetus now.
If marketed properly the Staffordshire Hoard could be priceless asset to the city rather than simply another hidden gem at a venue that simply hasn’t moved with the times.
I can feel a campaign coming on…