Pope finally steps out of the shadows to become Vale’s main man

Well that’s put the cat among the pigeons. There’s nowt like a 6 – 2 demolition of the bookies’ favourites to make the rest of the division sit up and take notice.

The dismantling of Rotherham just days after we dumped League One leaders Tranmere out of the Johnstone Paints Trophy sent out a clear message that this Vale side are genuine contenders for promotion.

There were so many positives – such as the movement, the creativity and the commitment from every player.

But what was most pleasing for me was the fact that Tom Pope stepped out of the shadow of other Vale strikers and became our main man.

Last season’s much-maligned workhorse finally got his rewards for all the endeavour, all the flick-ons, and all the holding up of the ball he’s done in the last 18 months.

With one bravura performance Popey joined a rather exclusive club of Vale players who have scored four goals in one game.

There were some fans who doubted local lad Pope who, to be fair, came to the club he has supported all his life with a fair amount of baggage.

I’m sure some felt that Micky Adams had another Gary Roberts on his hands and thought perhaps that it was only a matter of time before he went off the rails.

Pope was labelled a ‘thug’ and much worse by a minority on fans’ forums and castigated for simply not scoring enough goals – which is, after all, the raison d’être of any striker.

This is why I am so pleased that Sneyd Green’s finest has come good.

I put some of his success this season down to the fact that Vale are no longer playing to and through Marc Richards and some of it down to our new-look midfield.

But let’s be fair: Popey looks sharper and fitter than he’s ever been as a Vale player and if he stays injury and trouble free I honestly think we could have a 25 goal plus striker on our hands.

Yes, it is very early days, but put Tom Pope and our goal-scoring midfielders (a special mention here for Louis Dodds who is finally playing in his best position) together with the first decent ’keeper we’ve had since Goodlad and a defence that looks solid and this could well be our year.

Until the club is sold, of course, then keeping our relatively small squad injury-free and avoiding suspensions will be key to us maintaining a promotion push.

Right now Vale are a pleasure to watch and the team and the coaching staff are restoring much-needed pride in our club.

Long may this continue.

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

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4 thoughts on “Pope finally steps out of the shadows to become Vale’s main man

  1. Mark Walton says:

    They’re very different strikers but Pope is reminding me of Steve McPhee. Three goals in 2002-03, 27 the following season. But even he never scored a hat-trick, let alone four in a match, for the Vale. And let’s hope Tom doesn’t naff off to some Portuguese team on a Bosman.

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