How Vale’s goal-den boy made history (and made his dad proud)

Tom Pope with his daughter Mollie Mae.

Tom Pope with his daughter Mollie-Mae.

There is an alleyway behind Buxton Street in Sneyd Green. This is where our story begins…

It’s where Tom Pope, his brother, and his mates would spend hours kicking a ball about like any young lads the length and breadth of the country.

By his own admission, there was nothing at that stage to indicate he would go on to become an icon at the club he has supported since he was a boy – one of only two Vale players since the war to score more than 30 goals in a season.

Tom, a former pupil of Sneyd Green Primary and Holden Lane High School, said: “If you’d have asked any young lads back then I guess loads of them would have wanted to become footballers.

“There’s not so many these days because they’ve got other distractions but all I honestly ever wanted to do was play football.”

Born into a Vale-supporting family, young Tom was taken to home games by his grandfather and stood in the Lorne Street.

“I’d have been about five when I first started going,” he said. “Dad wouldn’t let me go in The Paddock because he didn’t think it was for children so I spent my first few seasons kicking a can about in the Lorne Street.

“My dad went on the buses to every Vale away game for about 15 years I think and he only stopped to come and see me when I was playing for Crewe.

“My fondest memories as a Vale fan are of the early to mid-nineties and the team John Rudge put together – the likes of Martin Foyle, Neil Aspin, Dean Glover, Ian Bogie and Bernie Slaven etc.

“I guess players like Neil Aspin will always have a special place in the hearts of Vale fans. I used to love his mazy runs from the edge of his own penalty area which never amounted to anything. He would have run through walls for the Vale.

“Then there was Foyley. He wasn’t the biggest of strikers but he was good in the air, strong and such a great finisher. His record speaks for itself.”

Despite his love of the Vale it was Crewe Alexandra’s highly-acclaimed youth set up which nurtured young Tom’s skills between the ages of six and 13.

He wasn’t, however, offered a contract by the Alex and so turned his hand to window-fitting while playing for Biddulph Victoria.

It was his performances (and goals) in the Midland Football Alliance which finally persuaded Crewe boss Dario Gradi to sign him.

Tom turned pro in 2005 at the age of 19 after two unsuccessful trials with, you’ve guessed it… Port Vale.

He spent four years with the Alex and was the club’s top scorer with 10 goals from just 17 starts during the 2008/9 season.

That season, however, Crewe were relegated from League One and Tom signed for League Two rivals Rotherham for a then joint club record fee of £150,000.

His time in Yorkshire wasn’t a particularly happy one and goals were few and far between.

He missed out on a trip to Wembley because of a broken metatarsal and when he returned to fitness found himself behind Adam Le Fondre and Ryan Taylor in the pecking order.

By his second season with the Millers the then Rotherham boss Ronnie Moore was quite prepared to sell Tom to the highest bidder as he hadn’t been scoring regularly.

Several clubs expressed an interest but it was Jim Gannon who tempted Pope to Vale Park.

“It was about the only thing Gannon did right, wasn’t it?” I ask.

Tom smiles. “You could say that. I was grateful of the opportunity Ronnie Moore gave me to get out on loan, to be honest. I think he just wanted to get my confidence back up.”

In August 2011 Tom joined the Vale on a free transfer, having been released by Rotherham.

He said: “There were five or six clubs interested in me at that time and Vale’s offer was by far the lowest on the table, to be honest. I took a huge pay-cut. I’m not just talking a few hundred quid either. But there’s more to your career than just money.

“This is where I’m from and my family and friends are here. In the end it was an easy decision for me.”

He played 45 games last season but scored just five goals as Marc Richards went on to become Vale’s leading scorer for a fifth season running.

Tom said: “We were a different team last year. We didn’t really have any wide players to speak of. Lewis Haldane was out injured and Rob Taylor kept having little niggles.

“All our play came through the middle of the park and when you’re a bloke who likes to get on the end of crosses there wasn’t much in the way of service for me.

“To be truthful I think there were quite a few Vale supporters who would have been glad to see the back of me during the summer. Thankfully, Micky Adams gave me a one-year deal and I’ll always be grateful for the faith he showed in me at that time.”

So what’s been the difference this season? Why is Tom Pope, at the age of 27, now breaking records and picking up awards?

He said: “Believe it or not this summer was my first pre-season in a while when I’ve been able to train properly.

“I would go running round Forest Park and up to Bradeley and I felt good.

“I remember we went to Ireland for the pre-season tour and I started scoring a few goals and the gaffer (Adams) took me to one side and said he’d never seen me looking so sharp. That really gave me a boost. I was ready to go.”

Of course, Vale started the season in administration and there were no guarantees there would even be a club in 2013.

It was a worrying time for fans but also for the club’s staff and players who – at one time – went unpaid.

Tom said: “It was extremely difficult for us all. We could see and hear what was going on and I think it was obvious that the club needed a new board and a change of direction.

“Of course, as employees, you can’t speak out. You’ve got a job to do and you just have to get on with it – no matter what you think.

“Thankfully, we had a great set of lads in the dressing room and in Micky Adams we had a strong leader to hold everyone together and I think he deserves enormous credit for that.

“Do I think the supporters were right to campaign for change? Yes I think they were. We’ve got a good set of fans and they usually know when something’s not right.

“The club is certainly in a better place now than it was 12 months ago. It’s a happy ship.”

This season’s heroics have seen Tom, nicknamed The Pontiff and The Sneyd Green Sniper by the Vale Park faithful, named League Two Player of the Year – among other accolades.

Barring a barren spell around March-time he’s been prolific all season and his goals are effectively Vale’s goal difference of plus 30-something.

He said: “It makes such a difference for a striker like myself having good, creative wide players in the side.

“Jeno (Jennison Myrie-Williams) and Ashley Vincent will always cause problems for defences because of their trickery and pace.

“I’ve tried to stay more central – rather than doing lots of chasing around – and I’ve had good crosses coming in. Fortunately I’ve been able to put quite a few of them away.”

Does he think players in the current squad could step up to the level required to survive and thrive in League One?

“Definitely,” he said. “We’ve got some very talented lads in the dressing room. You look at skilful players like Doddsy (Louis Dodds) and you think that actually playing at a higher level might suit them.”

Whats it like to be a Vale fan, though, playing for the club you love and scoring goals?

He said: “To be honest I try to keep my feet on the ground. I know I’m very lucky but I don’t tend to get carried away.

“Of course I can hear the supporters – I used to be one of them shouting for Foyley and the like – so I know what that’s all about.

“It’s hard to believe they are shouting for me, to be honest, and I try to block it out and concentrate on my game. I know it’s special for me but now isn’t the time to start thinking about records and awards and personal targets.

“I’m not someone who thrives on praise. If I score a hat-trick then the manager will shake my hand and that’ll do.

“My dad is very like Micky Adams in that respect. I’m sure he tells all his mates how proud of me he is but he wouldn’t tell me. If I score a hat-trick he’s more likely to pick me up over a mis-placed pass. Him and the gaffer know how I tick.”

What about the future, then, for a bloke who is enjoying the form of his life while juggling the responsibilities of being a dad?

“I’ve said before I’d like to see out my career here. I’ve probably got four or five good years left and I love the place.

“The new owners made me an offer which was respectful and it ties me to Vale for another two seasons. I’d love to think I could stay beyond that too and score a lot more goals.

“Let’s put it this way – it would take an offer of silly money to tempt me away at this stage and, if that were to happen, then I’d obviously have to think about my family and see what’s right for us.

“At this moment in time, however, I’m enjoying my football and I want to be able to look back in five, 10, 15 years’ time and have people say to me: ‘What a season that was. What a team we had back then’.”

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.

My local heroes and Villains of 2011…

As the year draws to a close it is a time to reflect on the good and the bad of the last 12 months.

As I’m a bloke (and we love lists) here, in no particular order, are my local heroes and villains for 2011…

*First up its the lads and lasses of the Third Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) who are HEROES – despite what my columnist colleague Mike Wolfe may think – for completing their tour of duty to Afghanistan. Private Gareth Bellingham, aged 22, of Clayton, was shot while on patrol in June and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We can’t have anything but admiration for the job our Armed Forces do.

*Developer Realis may, in time, be viewed as a HERO for investing hundreds of millions of pounds in the city centre to replace the eyesore that is Hanley Bus Station with a huge new shopping centre. But they, and the city council, are firmly in the VILLAINS corner for ever thinking it was OK to name the complex ‘City Sentral’. Bad English. Bad idea.

*I’m swallowing my pride for this one and naming Stoke City’s team HEROES for their exploits in 2011. It would be churlish – even for a Vale fan like me – to deny our cousins down the A500 their moment in the sun after an FA Cup Final appearance, a continuing European odyssey and some very decent results of late in the Premier League. There, I’ve said it.

*Next comes Jim Gannon – the pantomime VILLAIN who almost single-handedly wrecked Port Vale’s chances of promotion last season by dropping the entire first-choice midfield and upsetting virtually every player. The manager’s bizarre behaviour (remember busgate?) alienated the entire club and its fanbase. Good riddance.

*I’m afraid the city council again earns the title of VILLAIN for its shocking lack of transparency and accountability over the Dimensions pool fiasco. Ultimately, local businessman Mo Chaudry dropped his threat of legal action against the authority and tens of thousands of pounds worth of taxpayers’ money was wasted because someone at the council dropped a clanger over a potential deal to shut the splash pool at Dimensions. Inevitably, no-one – neither councillors nor officers – has been punished. Quelle surprise!

*The various incarnations of Port Vale’s board of directors have proven to be VILLAINS whose self-interest and misguided view of what’s best for the club have been catastrophic. The Vale doesn’t appear to have two pennies to rub together and fans and shareholders have been properly led up the garden path with the issuing of ‘nil-paid’ shares and the spectacular failure of the Blue Sky deal. Time for a New Year Spring Clean methinks.

*Another sort of local HERO this year is Saul Hudson – AKA guitarist Slash – who returned to his native North Staffordshire for the first time to play a one-off gig at the Victoria Hall. His links to the city may be tenuous, but I’m still claiming him. Anyone who, like yours truly, was lucky enough to see him play live up Hanley in July knows they were in the presence of greatness. Rock on, Slash.

*Sticking with music I’d like to name Robert Williams esquire as a HERO of 2011. Firstly, he has earned it because he has given ordinary Vale fans a voice by allowing his shares to be used by the Supporters’ Club. Secondly, he deserves it because I saw him with Take That on the Progress Live tour at Manchester and can categorically say that there was only one superstar on the stage that night. Everything else was window dressing. Take a bow, Robbie.

*My next VILLAIN isn’t local but its actions have placed a priceless piece of our heritage in jeopardy. The High Court ruling that the Wedgwood Museum collection could be sold off to help plug a pension fund deficit linked to the collapse of the pottery giant was a disgrace. Mercifully, the stage is set for Stoke-on-Trent-born billionaire and philanthropist John Caudwell to become the HERO after he vowed to save the collection rather than seeing it broken up and lost to the Potteries. Nice one, John.

*Finally, a bit of festive cheer courtesy of a local firm which battened down the hatches in October 2008 in preparation for the global economic downturn. JCB is not only surviving but thriving and has to be seen as a HERO after awarding its workforce a 5.2 per cent pay rise and a £500 Christmas bonus. Other employers please take note.

Read my Personally Speaking columns every Tuesday in The Sentinel

The boardroom situation’s a farce… but Roberts still has my backing

Well, it’s been 10 days since the announcement of the multi-million pound investment into Port Vale by American company Blue Sky and we’re none the wiser as to what it all means.
We still await the response from the boardroom to questions posed by fans via the Supporters’ Club – questions that should have been answered in the original press release.
Simply put, there isn’t enough meat on the bones of the proposed investment as yet to actually make a judgement on the deal.
As we await answers, the boardroom situation remains in a confusing state of flux.
Bill Bratt and Glenn Oliver are still directors for the time being – which is preventing some supporters from paying to watch home games.
Meanwhile, the situation with local businessman Mark Sims is nothing short of farcical.
He was the only person elected to the board at June’s EGM and yet here we are, three months later, still waiting for him to take his seat.
In contrast, Micky Adams was elected a director with the speed of light.
Out of the blue this week we have the announcement that Chief Executive Perry Deakin wants to become a director and put £100,000 of his own money into the club.
My take on this is: “That’s great, Perry. But resign as CEO first because it should be one or the other.”
In the same way that some supporters were dead set against manager Micky Adams becoming a director, I don’t much fancy the idea of a Chief Executive who’s also a board member.
The potential conflict of interest is there for all to see when directors could be involved in discussions regarding their own positions.
With regard to Mark Sims – if, as has been hinted at before, he doesn’t want to sign up to directors’ guarantees because he doesn’t feel he’s seen the full financial picture, then Mark needs to come out and say as much.
Then he can step away and the Supporters’ Club could perhaps try to find another suitable candidate to be elected to the board using Robbie Williams’ proxy vote.
Robbie gave ordinary Vale fans the chance to have a voice and it is an opportunity that should not be wasted.
On the field the big story of the week is the suspension and fining of midfielder Gary Roberts who just can’t seem to shake his personal demons.
Some say he’s had his chances and we should get shot of the lad who enjoyed the full support of fans when Jim Gannon cast him into the wilderness.
Personally, I’m a long way from turning my back on arguably the most talented midfielder in the lower leagues.
This is the manager’s call, not ours, and Roberts will be getting nowt but encouragement from me.

Season to forget caused by a collective failure

FOR the last few months Vale supporters have been placed in the position of spectators to a plane crash.
Utterly powerless to avert a catastrophe, they have been glued to the spectacle – unable to tear their eyes away from the unfolding tragedy.
No-one really blamed the first pilot for bailing out,  but the other one surely deserves to have his licence revoked having steered a course just south of oblivion.
Those who came after him could do little to prevent our dreams of promotion from crashing and burning.
When the end came, predictable as it was, with defeat at Stevenage last Monday, it still hurt like hell.
But as we sift through the wreckage of what looked for all the world like a promotion campaign, we don’t need a black box flight recorder to tell us where it all went wrong.
Since Micky Adams left his team have produced relegation form.
His successors have simply been unable to coax that extra 10 to 20 per cent out of the players which had turned them into promotion hopefuls.
I attach no blame to Mark Grew and Geoff Horsfield here, as they were handed a hospital pass when Jim Gannon walked out.
We can blame bonkers tactics, we can blame a lack of match fitness due to players being frozen out, but in the final analysis this squad wasn’t good enough.
Adams was the glue binding them together and in his absence troubled individuals have reverted to type and key players have failed to deliver.
Having been handed numerous chances to get back into the play-offs zone, the team’s inability to:
a) keep a clean sheet
b) score any goals, and
c) beat poor teams at the bottom of the table proved their undoing.
The rapport the squad had built up with the fans – a rapport forged of mutual adversity – has evaporated.
We are now the whipping boys of League Two – and so much so that it is hard to believe this same team was top of the table earlier in the season.
The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves because, at the very least, the play-offs were there for taking and time and again they blew it.
In fairness, the inability of our squad to make the top seven this season has to be viewed as a collective failure – not just of the players, but of the various coaching staff and the board of directors.
I don’t believe the players have been affected by the anti-board protests. They are professional footballers.
But they were clearly deeply disturbed by the regime change when Micky Adams departed.
I’m afraid the board has to shoulder responsibility for the appointment of Jim Gannon, who will surely go down as having crippled the promotion push with his bizarre decisions and eccentric behaviour.
It was a gamble to appoint a character like Gannon, who brought a totally alien managerial philosophy to the club. It was a gamble which blew up in our faces.
Directors also have to face up to the fact that they have caused a civil war among supporters.
The question that needs asking is why do so many Vale fans feel so disenchanted that they are demonstrating, signing petitions and plotting against the club’s leadership?
How on earth did we arrive at a situation where large numbers of Vale supporters are pledging not to renew their season tickets?
Why is there a well-organised and concerted effort by fans to call an EGM?
The answer to all these questions is that hundreds of die-hard Vale supporters – particularly those not of pipe and slippers age – feel let down and disenfranchised by directors who do not appear to be listening to their concerns and, worse still, don’t seem to care.
And this, lest we forget, from a board supposedly in place to represent the fans’ best interests.
To address this problem the directors could do a lot worse than have a proper supporter representative on the board to give your average fan a voice.
Not a puppet or a muppet, you understand, but someone with the bottle and the gumption to constantly challenge the status quo. Just a thought, mind.
The bottom line is that while Valiant 2001, the   supporters’ group who brought the club out of administration, can keep it ticking over, they have so far failed to attract the  significant levels of investment which will take the club to the next level.
Clearly the directors don’t want Mo Chaudry’s money – for whatever reason. The phoney war of claim and counter claim is pointless because that much is patently obvious.
Now that’s all well and good – so long as the board can come up with investment of several million pounds over the summer, that is.
I believe there are still many supporters who remain to be convinced by Mr Chaudry’s vision for Port Vale or indeed his motivations for wanting the club.
However, there are growing numbers of fans who just can’t see a viable alternative.
Yes, the board has had to put up with an awful lot of criticism – some of which has been beyond the pale.
But, to use a tired cliché, football is ultimately a results business. Clubs and their customers – the fans – thrive on aspiration and success.
Both of these have been in short supply of late at ST6 1AW.
I feel for the new chief executive, Perry Deakin, but had to smile when I read his letter urging me to renew my season ticket “as we draw to the end of one of the most exciting seasons in recent times”.
Really? Gut-wrenchingly disappointing, yes. Toe-curlingly embarrassing, yes. But exciting? I don’t think so.
I know the guy has hardly had time to get his feet under his new Port Vale desk, but spouting such ridiculous froth is hardly likely to win over fans already suspicious of someone appointed by what they regard as a discredited board.
That said, I will be renewing my season ticket this week and I think many supporters will do the same before August – not wanting to hurt the club or lose their preferred spot at the Wembley of the North.
But, in truth, even I’m all out of optimism… while the board is fast running out of excuses.
Wouldn’t it be far better if they actually answered just a few of the questions that fans – the people they are supposed to represent – have repeatedly put to them.
Why, for example, did they fail to reply to Mark Sims’ attempt to invest in the club?
Why, for example, have they still to clarify Graham Mudie’s position on the board when it would seem he no longer represents Broxap’s interests in the club?
And what of the mystery consortium who are ready to trump Chaudry’s deal?
If anything, it seems the contempt with which some members of the board appear to hold their fellow fans has been as big a factor in the growing unrest at Vale Park as anything that has happened on the pitch.
That’s why the real danger now facing the board is not Mo Chaudry and his millions, but their lack of moral legitimacy as guardians of Port Vale Football Club.

It’s no fun being a Vale fan right now

You have to have a pretty thick skin or be fairly philosophical if you’re a Vale fan at present as lots of people in the Potteries who have never shown an interest in football before suddenly adopt Stoke City as their chosen club.
In stark contrast with the Potters’ Wembley success, yours truly actually gave up any hope of us making the playoffs a couple of weeks ago.
That may seem a tad defeatist – and I’d love to be proven wrong – but I just can’t see us scoring the goals to get us the three wins and a draw we will probably need to be sure of a top seven spot.
So, if I’m right, it’ll be a top 10 finish and a very miserable month of May for the black and white half of the city (ITV please take note).
I don’t care what anyone says, we were incredibly unlucky to have lost Micky Adams when we did.
We didn’t know it at the time, but if losing Adams was the sucker punch then the subsequent appointment of Happy Harry was the killer blow to our promotion hopes.
There was little point in bringing in a new manager when Gannon left as it would have risked further de-stabilising the squad during the run-in.
Meanwhile, off the field, the situation seems to be deteriorating by the week.
It’s basically civil war among Vale fans now. You are either anti-board/pro-Mo Chaudry or you’re not.
Those who aren’t in the former group are lambasted as blinkered happy clappers, puppets of the current board or worse.
This is a shame because there are doubtless plenty of Vale supporters who may be unhappy with the status quo but are undecided about Mr Chaudry’s proposals.
In contrast, there’s the Black and Gold campaign, the Mo Chaudry petition and the Starve ’Em Out campaign.
Not forgetting, of course, the charming send-offal-through-the-post-to-upset-the-directors’-wives mob.
To be fair, the board do themselves no favours as it seems to have taken them an age to respond to the latest overture by Chaudry and Vale fan Mark Sims.
When they do, I suspect some reason will be found to block this investment offer which will ratchet up the tension level even higher.
All of this means that I’m dreading the inevitable EGM, because I know it will descend into ranting and personal abuse – irrespective of the outcome of any vote.

It’s goals or bust for Vale from now on

Thank God for the Pope, that’s what I say.
Tuesday night’s gutsy late equaliser by Sneyd Green’s finest may well prove to be crucial come the final reckoning on May 7.
It also went some way to papering over the cracks of a tepid performance which had promised so much only to spectacularly fizzle out.
In truth, Vale were poor against Hereford and – on paper – it looks like two points dropped.
However, that view doesn’t take into account the events of the last few months – or even the preceding 24 hours – and, with hindsight, I can understand why it was such a patchy performance.
I think the euphoria surrounding the departure of Happy Harry the day before raised expectations for the game against a team with a decent away record.
That, combined with the impromptu huddle of players and staff before kick-off, had many of us expecting blood, thunder and a convincing home win.
I sat with Jonny Wilkes who predicted a Vale victory with all the confidence of a man who hadn’t seen what Jim Gannon’s tenure had done to the squad.
“This is Micky’s team,” he said. “They look really up for it.”
I didn’t disagree. Yours truly had us down for a three – one win.
As it was, the return of players frozen out by the unpopular manager turned out to be something of a damp squib.
Gary Roberts, Louis Dodds and Anthony Griffiths were rusty and all of them off-the-pace at times.
In fairness, they were bound to have lost some sharpness while Gannon was picking inferior players or loanees who weren’t match fit to take their places.
It was a dour game but there are positives to be drawn from it.
A draw was probably a fair result on the night and the nicking of a point at the death will have lifted the players whose confidence looks fragile in the wake of the recent madness at Vale Park.
It is also evident that, whatever turmoil has enveloped the club, the players and coaching staff are now united and the supporters are right behind them.
Interestingly, the fans never got on the players’ backs despite the sloppy passing and mistakes.
Personally, I hope Grewy starts with Tom Pope up front and Rob Taylor on the left wing tomorrow as I think both present a genuine goal threat and add pace and steel to the attack.
We have to start scoring goals again because If we don’t make the play-offs it won’t matter to me whether we finish 8th or 14th.

It’s a win-win situation for Grewy and The Horse

Jim Gannon was always the proverbial dead man walking.
The truth is many Vale fans never wanted him in the first place.
Some believed the current board shouldn’t have been choosing a new manager because that decision ought to have been left for the heir apparent – Mo Chaudry – after his impending coronation.
Indeed, I doubt if the appointment would have been made so swiftly had Chaudry’s takeover bid not been hanging over the club.
Still more supporters couldn’t understand why a man who advocated a totally different style of football to the exalted Micky Adams had been brought in to shepherd Adams’s squad through the remainder of the promotion campaign.
At first I had some sympathy with the dour bloke in the long, black coat who prowled the touchline, barking orders and scowling like a warden at Alcatraz.
We all knew that someone appointed by a deeply unpopular board and following in the footsteps of a popular and successful manager was going to have his work cut out to win over the players and the fans.
But, on the basis that everyone deserves a chance, I was prepared to give Gannon time.
However, not everyone was as charitable.
After a baptism of fire which resulted in defeats in the Cup and away at local rivals Crewe, the knives were soon out for the new manager.
Gannon then embarked on what can only be described as a verbal wrecking spree in which he seemed to systematically undermine his staff and players while doing his level best alienate the club’s supporters.
It was almost as if he held some sort of irrational grudge against the Vale for Stockport’s defeat in the 1993 Autoglass Trophy Final at Wembley.
His inability to work with the backroom staff he inherited, his total disinterest in building any kind of rapport with fans and his, quite frankly, bizarre team selections were ultimately to prove his downfall.
There is a palpable sense of relief around the club today – as if a great, black cloud has been lifted.
But the truth is that while Gannon’s reign will be viewed by many as an unmitigated disaster, there are a couple of positives – if you care to look hard enough.
Indeed, after the televised game against Bradford there were those who were warming to the passing game Gannon’s teams sometimes offered. Although you may struggle to find such a person today.
In addition, the emergence of youth graduate Sam Morsy in midfield – whether by accident or design – was unlikely to have happened under Micky Adams.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Sneyd Green’s finest – Gannon recruit Tom Pope – has added much-needed steel and sharpness to Vale’s forward line.
Tonight, for the first time since Micky Adams headed north, there will be a genuine feel-good factor at Vale Park as supporters will undoubtedly embrace the makeshift managerial set-up and welcome the likes of Gary Roberts and Louis Dodds back to the fold.
Whatever happens from here on in, Mark Grew and Geoff Horsfield are in a win-win situation – in contrast to the board.
If they take Vale into the play-offs, and perhaps even lead the team to promotion, they will be assured a place in the club’s folklore.
But if Grewy and The Horse fail to rescue the promotion challenge then it is unlikely that supporters will vent their frustrations on a couple of blokes who have been pushed from pillar to post in recent months.
That special treatment will be reserved for the six remaining directors who are clinging steadfastly to their positions in the face of ever-growing animosity.