As a Port Vale fan, I am used to highs and lows. Last season, we were flying high in the league, and then administration hit. Ten points lost, a season over. This has become normality to me, almost like karma. We won the LDV trophy, then we went into administration at the end of the next season. We are top at Christmas, Micky Adams leaves and we appoint Jim Gannon. So you can appreciate my trepidation at writing this blog. Things seem to be going well at Vale Park, second in the league, top scorers, and playing good football. Things even seem to be progressing on the buyer front, with talk from the administrator that a deal could be completed by the end of October.
So why do I not trust this? I appreciate that form is temporary. Tom Pope, for example, currently sits on nine goals this season. In his 53 appearances for previous club Rotherham, he scored four. No-one expected this start, and I know that as fans, we should appreciate the remarkable job that Micky Adams is doing. He has got the squad of 18 senior players (Including no recognised left back) and has morphed them into a unit capable of winning games. Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams have torn teams apart with their pace, and Louis Dodds seems to have finally found a position that suits him, playing just behind Pope. For the first time in what feels like years, we seem to be playing football that is easy on the eye, is rewarding us with goals and finds us challenging for top spot. I should be cheering from the rooftops, but instead there is that lingering doubt. That word. Administration.
My last blog painted a very sombre picture, worried for the very future of my club. Since then, the administrators have come out and said that the Keith Ryder deal is dead. This is no surprise as many fans assumed that it had died a long time ago, and had stopped holding out hope for it to be resurrected. Since then, the news has been somewhat positive. The supporters club have constantly been in contact with the admin team, and have put fortnightly statements out. While there may not always be the words we want to hear in the statements, the fact that we have them at all is a refreshing change from the shrouded nature of the previous board. Rumours continue to fly around about who the prospective new owners would be, and that is to be expected. Names such as Oliver Ashley (Son of Newcastle United Chairman Mike), Sir Anthony Bamford (Owner of JCB) and the Cauldwell Group (Most notable for Phones4U) While it would be hard to complain at any of those buying Port Vale, I can’t help but think that the rumours will end up being just that.
So, where do we go from here? On the one hand, I am enjoying turning up every week to watch the match. At times last season, that wasn’t happening. Due to a combination of administration, players who looked like they didn’t care, protests and lies from the previous board, I found myself amongst a lot of Vale fans who seemed drained. It is tough to be a football fan at the best of times, let alone when you find yourself staying after matches to protest against the people who, rightly or wrongly, continue to provide you with a football club. Attendances are slowly creeping back up, and we are challenging at the top, but there will always be that nagging doubt. January is fast approaching, and if we are still in administration, what is to stop another club from taking our best players. I am sure the administrator will sell players to balance the books if he has to, as that is his job. Maybe I should just watch the football and forget about the boardroom? Or maybe the life of a lower league fan is a poisoned chalice. Forever cursed with knowing that, no matter the highs, a low is probably just around the corner.
Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger
Steve tweets at @the_vogster