I’ve waited for so long to be able to write this post. Even now, it feels premature as we are not 100% promoted, but I somehow can’t see a twenty-nine goal swing occurring next weekend, so we did it. In front of just over 12,000 fans, we achieved promotion.
It is amazing to think where we were 12 months ago, and then compare it to where we are now. On May 5th, I walked out of Vale Park after beating Oxford not knowing if that was going to be the last time I ever saw my club play. I can’t convey how that feels, and I hope that no fan ever has to go through it, because it is horrible. Fast forward through the Keith Ryder saga, and we are left with a group of players who bonded over the fact that we were still in administration. Sold the dream by Micky Adams, no-one really expected them to do anything. At the beginning of the season, I would have snapped your hand off at mid-table and security as a team. I don’t think anyone saw Tom Pope scoring an incredible 31 league goals (In his entire career before this season, he had only scored 30 league goals) and I don’t think anyone saw us being the top goal scorers in the league.
So how do I explain it? There are so many twists and turns in a league season that I never truly believed we would get promoted. We went top, and then hit a patch of bad form, and started to drop. We built up a 12 point cushion, and then we couldn’t win to save our lives, and it just seemed like we were never going to drag ourselves over the finish line. In a way, it summed up our season that a formed Vale player had to score an own goal that sent us up. We never do things the easy way, and this was just another case in point.
With one game left, it’s all but over. We’re promoted. There are so many people I would want to thank, but in reality, I couldn’t ever thank them all. So I’m going to say these:
1) Thank you Micky Adams. We doubted you, we scorned you when you left, and we questioned your decisions. In the end, the players you trusted and believed in repaid you in full.
2) Thank you Norman and Paul. You picked up a football club in the doldrums, and restored pride and passion. You gave me a reason to believe, and you gave every single fan hope that we could turn around 15 years of decline. You put the money in when we needed players to take us over the line, and you united a fanbase by giving us a reason to be cheerful.
3) Thank you to every single player who pulled on the Port Vale shirt. Every single one of you has done us proud, and every single one of you should never have to buy a drink in Burslem again, as was apparently proven on Saturday night!
Finally, congratulations to Tom Pope. I’ve said it before, but he has had a truly remarkable season. He always said he had 3 goals, to play for Port Vale, to score for Port Vale, and to help us to win promotion. Not a bad way to do all three.
Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger
Steve tweets at @the_vogster