Tony Pulis has a mountain to climb – and for once the phrase does not refer to the Stoke City manager's prospects of winning at Chelsea in today's FA Cup quarter-final, or his chances of convincing a London crowd his side are more than simply muscular hackers.
For on FA Cup final day, 15 May, Pulis is due to fly to Tanzania, where he will lead a team on a five-day trek up Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, in aid of Potteries-based charity The Donna Louise Trust, which raises money for a hospice for terminally ill children.
When he agreed to take part, having raised £40,000 by running the London Marathon in four hours, Pulis did not anticipate the possibility of Stoke reaching Wembley. "I'll be on that plane whatever happens," the Welshman said. "It's a great cause and how can I say no? How can a lucky lad like me, who's been so privileged, say no to making money for sick kiddies?
"If I have to miss the final, I will. If the Spice Girls can do it, I've got to do it. And if we've won the Cup, I'll probably drink my way up the mountain and all the way back down."
Publicising the event has provided a respite from the Ryan Shawcross controversy for Pulis after the Stoke player's leg-breaking challenge on Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey. Shawcross is suspended, but Stoke, 22-1 outsiders to win the trophy, aim to exploit the defensive frailty the holders and favourites Chelsea showed in the 4-2 home loss to Manchester City.
Chelsea have won their three League meetings but required stoppage-time winners in the last two. Pulis insists that Stoke are playing "some decent stuff and scoring some fantastic goals", although he remains defiant about the importance of denying "the big teams" space to play.Reuse content