There are many words that could be used to describe Bill Bell. Businessman, chancer, shrewd…but most of all, he was a Port Vale fan.
When I first started watching Port Vale, I was seven, and it was 1995. The high point of Port Vale, and a time where the relationship between Bill and John Rudge was at a high point. Riding high in the league, and an FA cup win at home to holders Everton, they were good days. While the memories were somewhat soured by the time that Bill Bell left Port Vale, no-one can argue that he gave us the best years that Port Vale fans have had. Trips to Wembley, promotions, and good quality players the likes of which the club hasn’t seen in a long time. Steve Guppy, Jon McCarthy, Tony Naylor and Ray Walker all spring to mind. Even if we don’t look at players, he gave us the stadium that we call home. Yes, one stand was bought from Chester City, and yes, the Lorne St Stand still isn’t finished, but it’s ours. We own it, and when finished, we can be very proud of it.
But past the businessman, and past the owner of Port Vale, Bill was a gentleman. Even in the past couple of months, I used to see him every Sunday doing his shopping (I worked at a supermarket at the time) and he was always happy to chat about Port Vale to people as he walked. He was one of the last of a dying breed of fans who made it big and lived the dream of owning the club they supported.
Irrespective of the end of his tenure, thank you for giving me a team that ignited my passion for Port Vale.
Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger
Steve tweets at @the_vogster
(Image taken from here)