As debuts go, I thought our Keith played a blinder…

Apparently, Keith Ryder is a very private person – which means that standing in front of 500 expectant Vale fans probably wasn’t his cup of tea.

But when administrator Bob Young left him on his tod 15 minutes into last night’s open fans’ forum – in an attempt to placate the 100 or so supporters locked out because of fire regulations – there really was nowhere for our Keith to hide.

I dare say only Robbie Williams could have attracted more people to Vale Park last night. There was standing room only and even that wasn’t enough.

You could tell straight away it was going to be a positive meeting. It struck me that fans are sick to the back teeth of negativity and desperately wanted the preferred bidder to be the real deal.

You be straight with us and we’ll stick with you through thick and thin was the subliminal message. You conna be any worse than the last lot…

Unaccustomed as he obviously is to public speaking, Vale’s white knight didn’t disappoint and, as the evening wore on, he warmed to the crowd and even cracked a few jokes.

That’s good because a sense of humour is certainly no bad thing to have when you get involved with the Vale.

The questions came thick and fast…

Is Keith heading up a consortium and is it his own money? Sorry, but there are no sheikhs waiting in the wings, he replied. And this isn’t the biggest investment he’s made, either.

Encouraging stuff.

Where are you on the Sunday Times rich list? asked one wag.

Keith couldn’t divulge that as it would ‘cause him marital problems and his wife would be off on a spending spree’.

Nicely dodged, sir.

The preferred bidder is a Manchester United fan, he told the audience but the Red Devils are no longer his number one team: That’s Port Vale.

Easy this PR lark isn’t it?

By the end the crowd was so jolly even the administrators and the council were getting rounds of applause.

As for Keith, he left to a standing ovation and went straight downstairs to the Lorne Street stand to do it all over again with a few dozen fans who’d waited patiently in the cold for the second coming.

In the end, most supporters went away happy – pleasantly surprised by the lack of rhetoric and the absence of daft promises from the Lancashire businessman.

Early days it may be but, as debuts go, I thought he played a blinder.

Read my Port Vale articles every Friday during the season in The Sentinel

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