Ranking All of Stoke City's Goals From Rory Delap Throw-ins

Stoke City's Irish midfielder Rory Delap
Stoke City's Irish midfielder Rory Delap | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Close your eyes, and you can picture it as clear as day. The rain is lashing down into the defenders' eyes, the wind is howling around the Britannia Stadium, and 28,000 supporters are chanting 'Rory, Rory, Rory'. The singing then morphs into a deep, slow-building, 'Oooooooh - OOO!'

In that instant, Rory Delap winds himself up, takes a deep breath, and careers towards the touchline - ball in hand - before launching a hand grenade behind enemy lines. The missile arrows into the penalty area, audibly whistling like an atom bomb, before exploding on the forehead of one of its many targets.

The defenders look around helplessly at one another, as the giants lumber off in celebration, gobbling up their prey with a trademark attack once more. Nothing has been so ugly, yet so beautiful at the same time.

And as football evolved and teams attempted to combat this ploy, Stoke moved with the times.

The trusty towel that Delap used to wipe down the ball was removed from away grounds to leave him with slippery hands, so the Potters sneakily stitched a towel into the inside of his jersey. Substitutes tried to distract the javelin thrower, opponents stood on the touchline to prevent his follow through, but nothing could stop this human slingshot.

It will long be remembered as the most unstoppable weapon that the Premier League has ever seen. But of all the many goals Stoke took by brute force using the Delap weapon, which was the best?

90min investigates.

20) Own Goal vs Burnley

How do you defend against this madness? Well, you can't. Just ask Burnley's Stephen Jordan. He was helpless in turning this one into his own net. You can't blame him, though.

19) Ricardo Fuller vs York City

It's not just the top flight that had no answer for this chaotic hand-cross. York City were punished by Delap and his thunderbolts, after a contested header falls to Fuller, who nods home. Simple.

18) John Carew vs Brighton

John Carew, a man built to play for a Stoke team sporting Delap and his venomous arms. The ball arrives, the big striker stands his ground, and it comes off the top of his head and beats the despairing Seagulls' shot-stopper.

17) Kenwyne Jones vs Fulham

A sea of Fulham defenders block the goalkeeper's path to the ball, and Jones does what he does best - puts his head in the way. Messy, but they all count. Get that backflip going, Kenny.

16) Leon Cort vs Hull City

Leon Cort actually bagged eight goals in the promotion season of 2007/08, which is prolific for a centre-back. And here we saw his true heading capabilities, nonchalantly flicking the ball past the Hull goalkeeper.

15) Liam Lawrence vs Scunthorpe

Liam Lawrence. What a man. What a legend. A strike which stirred a dramatic comeback from two goals down, Lawrence capitalises on some shoddy marking at the far post, and rifles home a mean left-footed fizzer. Thanks, Lenny.

14) Richard Cresswell vs Colchester United

A massive goal in Stoke's promotion push, and a typically scrappy yet beautiful tap-in on the rebound from Cresswell, to win the game for the Potters.

13) Ricardo Fuller vs Arsenal

The first of a Stoke versus Arsenal sequence. The throw is low, hard and flat. Classic Delap. Fuller darts into the flight path of the ball, and sticks his head on it before defenders or goalkeeper can stop him. Bosh.

12) Ricardo Fuller vs Manchester City

Ricardo Fuller, Joleon Lescott
Manchester City v Stoke City - FA Cup 5th Round | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Most of Stoke's throw-in goals came at home, but they did manage to sneak some in on their travels - and against the big boys, too. Big toss into the middle, everyone misses it, Fuller buries it, goal. Next.

11) Ryan Shawcross vs Manchester City

Ryan Shawcross
Stoke City v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship | James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

There's something so aesthetically pleasing about this one. Delap launches the ball and it seems to travel in the air for an eternity. Shay Given gets twitchy and dashes to meet the throw at the last minute, but he's beaten to it by Shawcross.

10) Leon Cort vs Preston

A sneaky, slippery header, this. The ball skids off Cort's head and snakes into the bottom corner, completely catching out the Preston goalkeeper. If he meant it to be so precise, then kudos.

9) Mama Sidibe vs Norwich City

A majestic flick of the neck muscles (and not the last we'll see from Big Mama), was enough to loop the ball over the Norwich goalkeeper and into the net. Superb skill.

8) Ricardo Fuller vs Sunderland

A crossbow and a bullet combo for this one. Delap flings the ball into the heart of the box, and Fuller connects perfectly, crashing a powerful header into the net. A beaut.

7) Ryan Shawcross vs Middlesbrough

A lovely run from Shawcross, and he meets the throw with a beautiful glancing header, which nestles into the bottom corner. Stoke inching towards survival with that strike.

Quality.

6) Seyi Olofonjina vs Everton

WHACK! What a strike. After a bit of pinball, it falls to Olofinjana on the edge of the box, who cannons a shot into the net with a deadly swing of that right foot. Uncharacteristically technical.

5) Kenwyne Jones vs Aston Villa

This is actually an incredible header. The throw is low and hard - the sort of thing you'd duck out of the way of in every day life. But Jones is no ordinary human, and he charges towards the ball, leaps, and flicks a brilliant effort into the top far corner.

4) Robert Huth vs West Ham

Is there anything more satisfying than watching Robert Huth attack a cross? He meets Delap's throw with a perfectly-timed run and header, and it hammers the net. Huth style.

A wonderfully crafted strike.

3) Seyi Olofinjana vs Arsenal

This goal sums up everything the long throw is all about. It flies into the heart of the penalty area, and Olofinjana throws himself at the ball, without a care in the world for his own well-being. The ball cannons off his chest, his face and dribbles over the line.

You cannot stop those.

2) Ricardo Fuller vs Arsenal

Boy, did Arsenal hate these guys, eh? If a throw has ever come closer to going directly in (although Delap did actually manage that once) then I'm yet to see it. The long throw goes to the very, very far post, beats every Arsenal defender, and the faintest of touches from Fuller sends it into the back of the net.

1) Mama Sidibe vs Aston Villa

Stoke City's Mamady Sidibe (C) celebrate
Stoke City's Mamady Sidibe (C) celebrate | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

The moment that the Premier League realised Stoke were not going to be the whipping boys. It's the first Premier League home game for the Potters, and it's 2-2 deep in injury time. Delap limbers up and chucks one last explosive into the mixer.

The ball reaches the six-yard box, where big Mama is surrounded by seven Villa players. But you can't beat destiny, and Sidibe flexes his neck muscles, and flicks the ball with the back of his head and into the bottom corner. Cue pandemonium in the stands, and one of the greatest moments in Stoke's Premier League career. Ah, the glory days.