Talking to Vale fans this week there’s confidence and hope in abundance that this season we will finally climb out of the lowest tier of English football.
This confidence is based on two things: Firstly, the majority of performances thus far by a terrific set of lads, put together on a shoe-string by Micky Adams and his staff, which have put us top of the league and, secondly, the addition of four vastly experienced players who will help to steady any nerves for the run-in.
Supporters know full well that our destiny is in our own hands. We’ve all done the maths: Every three points now represents one step closer to automatic promotion.
Since Norman Smurthwaite and Paul Wildes took over the club there’s been a steady drip, drip of good news from a club that used to be the dictionary definition of calamitous.
Off the field Papa Smurf, as our chief executive is affectionately known, has been beavering away doing all the unglamorous but rather important stuff like sorting the infamous toilets in the Railway Paddock and working hard to bring in lots of new sponsorship.
I would venture to say that Norman isn’t your ‘normal’ football club chief executive – if such a thing exists – and we, the fans, are all the better for having someone who is a businessman, first and foremost, at the helm.
It’s also really important that someone does the ‘people stuff’ and gets out and about meeting local people and Vale supporters from all backgrounds and he’s certainly doing that.
Paul Wildes, meanwhile, is the ‘face’ of the club. He is the chairman and figurehead – saying all the right things to the media and even creating a profile on social network Twitter.
Together, Norman and Paul are slowly starting to turn the ship around through a combination of sensible stewardship and innovative commercial and marketing initiatives.
I can only commend them for their endeavours thus far and hope that when the Supporters’ Club holds it AGM on February 12 plenty of people turn up to show how keen Vale fans are to work with the new owners.
The one nagging concern I do have is this week’s big talking point among fans which is the fact that leading scorer Tom Pope isn’t, as we were led to believe three months ago, contracted to the club until the end of next season.
We all know the Pontiff loves playing for the club he supports and he has indicated he wants to stay in Burslem.
I can only hope that the gaffer can persuade him to pledge his future to the Vale and that he gets the contract his efforts deserve.
Some fans argue that Tom has ‘only had one good season’. This isn’t true.
He worked his socks off last season too for scant reward in a team that was far less creative and where he had to play second fiddle to Marc Richards.
Now he’s sharp, hungry and a brilliant leader of the line.
It’s a rare thing when a local lad is banging in goals for his team and I sincerely hope we don’t lose him next week or over the summer.