Here’s hoping for a happy ending to a football fairytale

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In all honesty I would have taken four points from the last two games.

However, after the euphoria of Friday night’s unforgettable 7 – 1 drubbing of promotion rivals Burton, I got my hopes up for the Aldershot game and saw us taking all six.

As it turned out the atmosphere on Tuesday was tense, the performance forgettable for the most part, and the officials indescribably awful.

I’m just about getting over the feeling of deflation as I left the ground.

It was the classic banana skin and a draw was probably a fair result in terms of chances created – albeit the visitors were gifted their goal by dint of the fact that the linesman and referee failed to spot Darren Purse being shoved to the ground.

They say it’s swings and roundabouts when it comes to decisions going for and against you during the season.

On that basis, after 90 minutes of Tom Pope being climbed all over and the referee giving the visitors everything and tolerating their play-acting, I’d say Vale are due a few.

With hindsight, it was more important that we beat Burton as that game was the proverbial six-pointer.

We’ve been fortunate in recent weeks that results have gone for us and that’s why we have a five-point cushion.

But there can be no complacency. A win tomorrow away to a team that have nowt but pride to play for could seal a remarkable promotion.

Vale’s terrific, noisy away following will probably be similar in number to Rochdale’s home support and that could well set the lads up for a famous result.

We’re unbeaten in five and with the Pontiff, Lee Hughes and Jennison Myrie-Williams in the team I’d like to think there’s enough firepower to see us over the line.

As anyone who follows Vale knows, we seldom do things the easy way and they team historically has a habit of putting supporters through the mill emotionally.

This season has been no exception but we just need to hold our nerve, stick together and finish the job.

If we do and Vale go up automatically to League One it will be genuine Roy of the Rovers stuff.

Think about it: A club that started the season penniless and in administration and was rescued by its supporters is fired to promotion by a life-long Vale fan from Sneyd Green.

We’ll be dancing on the streets of Burslem.

For all the latest Port Vale news, views and pictures pick up a copy of The Sentinel. The Weekend Sentinel on Saturday includes The Green ‘Un sports paper with extensive Vale coverage.

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One game at a time. And let’s win tomorrow for Mr Bell

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I wasn’t too disappointed with the goalless draw against Barnet.

It was a classic case of a game where league positions were irrelevant with a team near the bottom scrapping for their Football League existence.

We were lucky to come away with a point, by all accounts, but the fact is we did and, who knows, that point – or the point we rescued away at Wimbledon – may just prove crucial.

If nothing else, last Saturday reminded the players, coaching staff and fans that we can’t take anything, or any game, for granted.

It is, and always has been, a case of one game at a time and a matter of changing up the formation and tactics depending on the opposition.

Forget the 10 point cushion between Vale and the play-off positions: If we win at least six of the remaining 15 games and pick up two or three draws that should see us promoted automatically.

There’s every chance we could go up as champions, which would be terrific, but as I’ve said before – promotion without the lottery of the play-offs – is all that matters.

What is particularly encouraging about recent results is that we have tightened up at the back and the influence and experience of Darren Purse is clearly paying dividends.

The Sneyd Green Pontiff will doubtless return to the scoresheet tomorrow as the club and fans look to pay a fitting tribute to former Vale Chairman Bill Bell who died this week.

There will be flags at half mast, black arm bands and a minute’s applause which will echo the gesture made at the Supporters’ Club AGM on Tuesday night.

Always a divisive figure, there is no denying Bill Bell’s shrewd investments and his partnership with John Rudge delivered the best period in Port Vale’s history to date.

His legacy is a stadium to be proud of which puts others in the lower leagues to shame and the foundations of what will hopefully soon be a Championship club.

As someone said to me earlier in the week: “Billy Bell may have been a rogue, but he was our rogue.”

Who knows, very soon the new owners of our club may see fit to honour ‘our rogue’ – and possibly even his partner in success JR – with some sort of lasting tribute.

Something perhaps for the new Supporters’ Club committee to work towards as we all look forward to a bright new era while paying a respectful nod to our past.

For all the latest Port Vale news, views and pictures pick up a copy of The Sentinel. The Weekend Sentinel on Saturday includes The Green ‘Un sports paper with extensive Vale coverage.

We mustn’t let apathy kill the Supporters’ Club

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Two terrific home victories have left us in a position we could scarcely have dreamed about this time last year.

He will say, of course, that we haven’t done anything yet.

However, the achievement of Micky Adams and his coaching staff in creating a squad which has put us top of the league cannot be overstated.

Yes the new owners have spent money to bring in additional players to strengthen us across the park.

Yes Darren Purse, Daniel Jones and Lee Hughes are excellent recruits whose experience and quality are there for all to see.

Their arrival was perfectly timed but they knew they were joining a squad who had already laid solid foundations for this promotion push.

The likes of Chris Neal, Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams and the superb Tom Pope continue, quite rightly, to be singled out for particular praise but the truth is it has been a genuine squad effort thus far – with all players contributing to the cause at different times.

Having said that, if there is a better midfielder than Ryan Burge in the lower leagues right now then I’m not aware of him.

Burge is a class act and I’d love to see him join Tom Pope in pledging his future to a club that finally seems to be awakening from a post-John Rudge slumber.

Things are progressing well both on and off the field and the new owners deserve great credit for the steady stream of improvements.

I hope that on Tuesday their efforts are rewarded with the election of a quality new Supporters’ Club committee that is champing at the bit to help take the Vale forward.

The entire committee which fought to save the club last year is standing down which is the right thing to do in my opinion. It is time for new faces not tarred with the time of troubles and some fresh ideas.

I hope to see as many Vale fans as possible at Tommy Cheadle’s from 7pm onwards as we look for a new Chairman; Vice-Chairman; Treasurer; Secretary/Membership Officer; Press and Publicity Officer; Webmaster; Liaison Officer and Fund-raiser.

With 1,600-plus members, money in the bank and a good reputation, I’d hate to see the Supporters’ Club now wither on the vine because we don’t have our backs against the wall anymore.

I really hope the new-look Supporters’ Club can remain a critical friend of the new owners while returning to its raison d’être – helping the Vale in any way it can.

Vale fans shouldn’t count chickens, but…

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The fact that Micky Adams was able to throw Lee Hughes straight into the team against Gillingham was priceless.
It was the transfer window equivalent of sticking two fingers up to that nice Martin Allen and saying: ‘See him? He’s ours’.
Game in hand or no game in hand, it represented a stealing of the initiative in the title/promotion race by a club that six months ago didn’t have two ha’pennies to rub together.
As it transpired Hughes’ debut was a decent one and we got what we expected: Plenty of attitude and, crucially, the nous of a 36-year-old who’s played and scored at every level.
I felt for Ben Williamson and Louis Dodds but Hughes’ inclusion in the starting eleven made absolute sense.
For me, the likes of Dodds and Williamson have a great future ahead of them and will doubtless play a role between now and the end of the season.
As Mark Grew pointed out earlier this week ‘it’s horses for courses’ from now on and the addition of experienced players has given Micky Adams the options to adopt that frame of mind.
We may bring in one or two more players by the end of the month but I think the squad Vale has now is strong enough to win automatic promotion.
The acquisition of Darren Purse brings vital steel and leadership to the centre of a defence which is missing John McCombe which may allow the gaffer to give Joe Davis one or two starts.
No-one is daft enough to start counting chickens but the Gillingham win was massive in that it gave us a vital cushion over the teams in third place and below.
There are 19 games remaining and if Vale can win nine of them (eminently achievable given the firepower we now have) and draw a few we should go up automatically.
It’s five in five now for the Pontiff who looks a good bet to reach Andy Jones’s total of 37 goals in a season if he stays fit and suspension free.
Finally, a word for someone who is a bit of an unsung hero as we all continue to eulogise, quite rightly, about the strike force.
For me, Micky’s most important summer signing was Chris Neal: The best ’keeper I’ve seen at Vale Park for many years.
It is my fervent hope that, in close liaison with the gaffer, the new owners are offering longer deals to the likes of Neal, Pope, Vincent, Myrie-Williams, Dodds and Williamson.
Without getting carried away, we are now finally building for the future and it’s a great position to be in.

New signings are spot on as Vale plan for promotion and stability

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The very fact that we have brought in three new signings – one of whom is a former fans’ favourite that the Football League wouldn’t let us sign earlier in the year – shows just how far the club has come in the last 12 months.
That the new owners are working with Micky Adams to possibly bring in even more players to strengthen the squad for the promotion push speaks volumes.
There’s obviously a real desire to push on and take advantage of the magnificent position the lads and the coaching staff have put the team in – in spite of the odds being stacked against them.
Automatic promotion really is in Vale’s hands now. Win nine of the remaining 20 games and draw a few and we’ll go straight up as one of the top three teams.
That is eminently achievable with the squad we have and the firepower Vale’s frontline now packs.
There have been a few gripes from some fans about the fact that Darren Purse is no spring chicken and that Lee Hughes isn’t on everyone’s Christmas card list.
Both are, by their nature, relatively short-term signings to bring invaluable experience to the squad as we face what will inevitably be a tense run-in and they make absolute sense to me.
Frankly, I don’t care if the goal that clinches our promotion to League One goes in off Hughes’s backside.
If the gaffer thinks that players like Hughes and Purse will add a bit of steel and nous to the team to see us over the line then I’m all for it.
I won’t forget the lads whose goals put us second in the league: Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ashley Vincent, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson and, of course, local hero Tom Pope.
They, along with Chris Neal, Doug Loft, Ryan Burge and Sam Morsy will have to continue to perform at their best to finish the job they started in May.
I would like to think that they, and the likes of Joe Davis, are the future and that they are all in Micky Adams’s plans for next season as he keeps one eye on creating a squad which can compete at a higher level.
Paul Wildes said this week that he would like to work with Micky Adams for the next five to 10 years.
What I take from that statement is that he understands the value of both the manager we have and the value of stability and continuity. He’s spot on.