People often ask me why I support a lower league team. Why did I not choose a Premier League team when I started watching football? At first, I would answer that it was who my father supported, and his father before him. Now, I point to the sheer unpredictability of the lower leagues. At the start of the season, the Premier League is all but decided. It will be one of three or four teams who will win it, three from six or seven will be relegated and the rest will battle for mid-table mediocrity. With more twists and turns than a soap opera, it is impossible to ever get bored in the Football League. Whether that is a good thing or not is yet to be determined!
How I would love to claim to be able to have a boring season, just once at Port Vale. Thus far, in league games, we have seen 58 goals in 17 games. That’s an average of over three per game! And that’s before we get into the off-field power struggle.
But where to begin when we begin to look at the start of the season? While the season started on an auspicious note, rescuing a point at home against newly promoted Crawley Town Vale seemed to be able to score for fun with twelve goals scored in their first five league games. However that seems to have dried up recently, while the gaping holes in defence have not been fixed. This has lead to a couple of poor results recently but more than that, there have been performances where players have looked like they don’t care.
To lose is forgivable, but to not try is never acceptable. And what of Gary Roberts? Like the prodigal son, Vale supporters welcomed him back with open arms at the start of the season, then he once again breaches club rules and finds himself suspended. As a fan, it is so infuriating to see a player with undoubted talent wasting it. You only need to look into any football stand in the country on a Saturday and you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would give their right arm to be in the position that he is in. Wasted talent is always such a shame to witness.
But alas, the on field antics of the club have paled into insignificance when compared with the boardroom struggle at Vale Park. The club seemed to be in the enviable position of having not one, but two American companies wanting to invest in them. Not bad for a small club in Burslem, but when two companies who specialise in artificial turf come knocking within a few months of each other, questions will always be asked.
We have been told that the investment will be worth £8million. That’s is a sizeable chunk of money for a League Two club, make no doubt about it, but the fans’ concerns are as to just where this money is going. It is joked amongst the terraces that, now the Firth Bridge will finally be finished, Vale’s Lorne Street Stand is the new measure of a project destined to never be finished, but a part of the £8million is going towards that. It’s all very well in theory, but fans don’t care about a few seats – why bother with an extra 2000 when you can’t fill the 18000 that you already have?
All supporters want is a successful team. If the new chairman can begin to provide that, then maybe the fans will begin to forgive the remaining board members. Whatever happens, it appears they have a year to convince fans that they are right for the club. A temporary truce it is, but let us hope that is becomes permanent as the club moves forward, or I, along with others, fear for the future of Port Vale.
Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger
Steve tweets at @the_vogster