David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Vale Park’

Thank you Mr Bell

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

There are many words that could be used to describe Bill Bell. Businessman, chancer, shrewd…but most of all, he was a Port Vale fan.

When I first started watching Port Vale, I was 7, and it was 1995. The high point of Port Vale, and a time where the relationship between Bill and John Rudge was at a high point. Riding high in the league, and an FA cup win at home to holders Everton, they were good days. While the memories were somewhat soured by the time that Bill Bell left Port Vale, no-one can argue that he gave us the best years that Port Vale fans have had. Trips to Wembley, promotions, and good quality players the likes of which the club hasn’t seen in a long time. Steve Guppy, Jon McCarthy, Tony Naylor and Ray Walker all spring to mind. Even if we don’t look at players, he gave us the stadium that we call home. Yes, one stand was bought from Chester City, and yes, the Lorne St Stand still isn’t finished, but it’s ours. We own it, and when finished, we can be very proud of it.

But past the businessman, and past the owner of Port Vale, Bill was a gentleman. Even in the past couple of months, I used to see him every Sunday doing his shopping (I worked at a supermarket at the time) and he was always happy to chat about Port Vale to people as he walked. He was one of the last of a dying breed of fans who made it big and lived the dream of owning the club they supported.

Irrespective of the end of his tenure, thank you for giving me a team that ignited my passion for Port Vale.

R.I.P

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

(Image taken from http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Port-Vale-Bell-helped-bring-glory-progress-Vale/story-18135113-detail/story.html#axzz2KnI0hac1)

It’s an American Invasion at Emmer-Vale

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

People often ask me why I support a lower league team. Why did I not choose a Premier League team when I started watching football? At first, I would answer that it was who my father supported, and his father before him. Now, I point to the sheer unpredictability of the lower leagues. At the start of the season, the Premier League is all but decided. It will be one of three or four teams who will win it, three from six or seven will be relegated and the rest will battle for mid-table mediocrity. With more twists and turns than a soap opera, it is impossible to ever get bored in the Football League. Whether that is a good thing or not is yet to be determined!

How I would love to claim to be able to have a boring season, just once at Port Vale. Thus far, in league games, we have seen 58 goals in 17 games. That’s an average of over three per game! And that’s before we get into the off-field power struggle.

But where to begin when we begin to look at the start of the season? While the season started on an auspicious note, rescuing a point at home against newly promoted Crawley Town Vale seemed to be able to score for fun with twelve goals scored in their first five league games. However that seems to have dried up recently, while the gaping holes in defence have not been fixed. This has lead to a couple of poor results recently but more than that, there have been performances where players have looked like they don’t care.

To lose is forgivable, but to not try is never acceptable. And what of Gary Roberts? Like the prodigal son, Vale supporters welcomed him back with open arms at the start of the season, then he once again breaches club rules and finds himself suspended. As a fan, it is so infuriating to see a player with undoubted talent wasting it. You only need to look into any football stand in the country on a Saturday and you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would give their right arm to be in the position that he is in. Wasted talent is always such a shame to witness.

But alas, the on field antics of the club have paled into insignificance when compared with the boardroom struggle at Vale Park. The club seemed to be in the enviable position of having not one, but two American companies wanting to invest in them. Not bad for a small club in Burslem, but when two companies who specialise in artificial turf come knocking within a few months of each other, questions will always be asked.

We have been told that the investment will be worth £8million. That’s is a sizeable chunk of money for a League Two club, make no doubt about it, but the fans’ concerns are as to just where this money is going. It is joked amongst the terraces that, now the Firth Bridge will finally be finished, Vale’s Lorne Street Stand is the new measure of a project destined to never be finished, but a part of the £8million is going towards that. It’s all very well in theory, but fans don’t care about a few seats – why bother with an extra 2000 when you can’t fill the 18000 that you already have?

All supporters want is a successful team. If the new chairman can begin to provide that, then maybe the fans will begin to forgive the remaining board members. Whatever happens, it appears they have a year to convince fans that they are right for the club. A temporary truce it is, but let us hope that is becomes permanent as the club moves forward, or I, along with others, fear for the future of Port Vale.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

A Tale of Turmoil

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Last year’s turmoil

For most, the start of the season is one for optimism, whether you spent last season fighting relegation or battling at the top, chances are you start this season believing that this could be your year. But what of those teams that have had turmoil over the summer? As Stoke City prepare to line up in the Europa League qualifiers, their neighbours Port Vale find themselves in turmoil. This time last year, we had that optimism that is synonymous with the start of the season. Micky Adams had taken the pre-season to bring in players that he wanted and give them the pre-season that he demanded, and our form at the end of the previous season caused great hope, but then it all fell apart in the most spectacular of ways. Sheffield United came calling, and PVFC’s great hope was gone, almost as soon as he had arrived. The rest of that season read more like a soap opera than a football club. Jim Gannon’s appointment, “Busgate”, a massive drop off in form and the fans discontent growing to new levels. The fans lack of confidence in the board was shown when they called an EGM with motions to remove every one of the board members and push through a vote of no confidence. Surely, given the weight of discontent, Port Vale would have new owners…

This year’s turmoil

Fast forward to the present day. The board, with a vote of no confidence in tow, still contains three of that previous board, and one Micky Adams. The messiah returned, and now has the “Safest job in football” The fans continue to protest, the board continue to ignore them, and the optimism that normally fills the start of a season has been replaced with fear.  We now have not one, but two local millionaires wanting to invest in our club, yet the board continue to cling on to power, losing money every year. While Crawley may be celebrating their first game in the football league on 6th August, Port Vale fans will be starting this season as they ended last, a protest march through the town, and a continual call for fans to “Starve ‘Em Out”, a protest aimed at cash starving the board out. Risky? Yes, but many believe it is the only alternative remaining in a bid to reclaim the club from those who once professed to only being interested in a fan run club. Thankfully, as it always does, the new season allows those who want to the chance to forget about any off-field problems, and for those 90 minutes, concentrate on the 22 guys on the pitch. So, on the field, is there any chance that we can somehow make it out of the bottom tier of English football?

Squad Changes

At the start of last season, our squad was based on quality, not quantity. Starting with 17 players with league experience, and 3 graduates from the youth team, any injury and we would be in trouble. This year, two players have departed to pastures new, and have been replaced by six incoming players. Micky raided former club Sheffield United for Kingsley James and Phil Roe, took a defender from last season worst defence in League 1 in Clayton McDonald, and picked up a couple of talents from the Glenn Hoddle Academy. With many on short term contracts or loans, there is the worry that if the new signings play well, they will leave in January for nothing, but if they are awful, they will be let go anyway. We could be back to a paper thin squad by Christmas, and that is a worry for most fans.

The Squad

Goalkeepers

Surprisingly, given the fact that we haven’t paid a fee for a player since Luke Rodgers in 2007, Port Vale actually have two of the better goalkeepers in the league, with Stuart Tomlinson and Chris Martin both fighting for the number 1 shirt. Martin is arguably the better shot stopper, but Tomlinson commands his area in a more confident way than Chris. I would normally insert a Coldplay related joke about Chris, but I will not be reverting to cheap puns, mainly because at this moment in time I can’t think of one.

Defenders

As previously mentioned, we have retained the core of last season’s defence. Adam Yates, John McCombe, Gareth Owen and Lee Collins form the main back four, with McDonald and Roe coming in. A lot will be expected of this defence, especially given the form that they showed last season before Micky left. It would be sensible to make the argument that our chances of doing anything this season will balance on how the defence can recover from the back end of last season.

Key man: Lee Collins. Ended last season out of form, but when playing well is one of the best defenders in League 2.

Midfield

For me, midfielders are there to do one of 3 things. Break up play, create chances or score goals. This season, we have a mix of these players, but all of whom have been inconsistent for us in the past. Gary Roberts is a prime example of this. A former England U16,U17,U18 and U19 captain, his off field demons stopped him reaching his full potential. On his day, a key player, on an off day, he may as well not be on the pitch! Add that to our new international in Anthony Griffith and we seem to lack a goalscorer in the middle. Still, hopefully one can step up to the plate!

Key man: Gary Roberts. Has the ability to play in at least League 1, but is the temperament there?

Forwards

It is looking likely that we will be going into the season with 3 recognised strikers, Marc and Justin Richards, and Ben Williamson. Talk is that Tom Pope will be joining, but at the moment, we can’t afford to matchMansfield’s offer (A sad indictment of how far we have sunk. Oh for the days when we had Tony Naylor up front)

Key man: Ben Williamson. Marc will score goals, but needs a partner who can finish. If Ben can do this, we may have a chance.

Overall, I can’t help but think that our squad is lacking a touch of quality. Looking at teams who go up, they generally have that one player who can change a match. While we have that on odd occasions, we don’t have the consistency to challenge. The question is, will hard graft get us there, or will we languish in mid table again? My prediction, 11th.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster