A View From The Stands – Are Vale fans anxious ahead of the season?
We recently asked a selection of die-hard Vale supporters their opinions on things Vale-related.
Nicki Jones, from Baddeley Green, is a life-long fan who has worked in the media department and other departments at the club on a voluntary basis.
Jean Jackson, from Oakhill, follows Vale home and away. She has been a programme contributor and proof reader for a number of years and is very knowledgeable about the club.
Pete Lawton, from Sneyd Green, is a life-long fan and is a former Commercial Manager at Port Vale, having more than one spell at the club.
Mark Porter, from Kidsgrove, has followed the Vale all of his life and is proud to be the Chairman of the Port Vale Supporters’ Club.
We’ve got a week to go before the season kicks in. How anxious, if at all, do you feel ahead of the big kick off?
Nicki: I’m not anxious at all. Despite last year’s dismal season, I have now moved on and can’t wait for the new season to start. I have always been a glass half full person!
Jean: I tend not to get anxious about football at my age – what will be will be. I’ve learnt that it’s pointless to worry about things I can’t control and, as there is little chance of Michael Brown seeing the light and playing me up front, I’ll just go with the flow.
Pete: Not too anxious, I’ve seen enough at Vale Park over the years to make me keep my feet on the ground and not get too excited. A new season always brings hope and optimism, as it does to the other 23 clubs in the division. So just fingers crossed for a decent start really.
Mark: I don’t feel anxious at all I feel very much looking forward to the new season see how we cope in this league. I’d like to see some more signings coming in and help us push towards promotion but I’m not anxious at all.
Michael Brown spoke a lot last season about the lack of fitness in the squad he inherited. How confident do you feel that his players will be up to the levels he expects right from the off this time?
Nicki: I would be very disappointed if the squad isn’t fitter this season. With Michael Brown, Chris Morgan and Ned Kelly directing training, I get a feeling that we have reverted to a Micky Adams’ style pre-season. I haven’t attended a pre-season match but from what I have seen in the media we are certainly putting in the work this time round. The trip to Spain will hopefully build a great team spirit too.
Jean: I fully expect the team to be physically ready for the season with Brown and Morgan cracking the whip. A friend of mine told me recently that Chris Morgan had been chucked out of the SAS for being too cruel so I doubt the players have had an easy time of it during this pre-season.
Pete: The pre-season fitness regime looks to be going well, just how well, Brownie will discover after the first half dozen games but I’m sure he’s left no stone unturned in his preparation, exactly how it should be.
Mark: From watching the pre-season games I have, he seems to be really working the players really hard I personally don’t think the players fitness will be a problem I think last season we were also unlucky with injuries I’m just hoping this coming season we will stay injury free and if not the injuries are just short term.
If you were in charge of team affairs and had the opportunity to bring in a couple more players, where on the pitch would you strengthen?
Nicki: I’d still like to see us bring in a player in every area of the pitch apart from the goalkeepers. We have made some good signings so far and it’s great to see some of the Youth/Academy players making the grade but I don’t feel we have enough cover in depth yet.
Jean: You can never have enough strikers. At Buxton in the second half Michael Brown found himself with no front men on the pitch due to knocks to Turner and Barnett. I’m also not convinced that Forrester will be available on a regular basis. A box to box midfielder would also be a welcome addition.
Pete: The obvious area is midfield. Getting the mix right, in this league especially, with hard tackling, ball winning, box to box midfielders will be crucial if the team is to be successful. The defence and forward line appear to be quite strong, although that could change if a decent offer for a defender came in before the end of August. A slight concern could also be keeping a fully fit strike partnership.
Mark: I’d personally bring in a couple of midfielders and also another winger I think we will be ok up front but I also think we need more bite in midfield and maybe one more defender to shore up the defence, especially with suspension and injuries which mount up and once the window is shut you have to make the best of what you have got.
Going from doom and gloom at the end of last season, the mood amongst supporters seems to have shifted over the past couple of months and there is a bit more optimism now. Where do you feel Vale will be, come the end of the season, and what would you say most of the fans would find acceptable?
Nicki: I think we will finish in the top four (there’s my optimism again!) but accept that the play-offs might be more realistic. We started so well last season before we plummeted down the table but hopefully this season we’ve got the spirit and fitness to carry it on to the end.
Jean: I think it will take us a while to recover from all the upheaval of last season and it is hardly surprising fans were fearing the worst. I’d be happy with a top 10 finish and the double over Crewe. I doubt many fans are expecting us to do much better apart from the eternal optimists.
Pete: The signs are encouraging but let’s be honest there is still a lot of things to do. Relegation hurts a club. There are at least 7 or 8 clubs, who on paper appear to have a better squad than the Vale, but I would be optimistic that we can feature in the top ten for most of the season, then who knows? I guess most fans would want to go straight back up but that’s not a given. We have the right manager in Brownie so everything on the pitch would appear set for success, if not this season, then certainly next. There appears to be less clowns, but only just, in the off-field circus, so I’m not holding my breath as Coco the Clown could return at any time.
Mark: Port Vale fans are brilliant and yes, we had doom and gloom last season, but Vale fans will clap a team off if they give 100% and lose, that’s just the way they are. The mood amongst supporters was lifted with the return of Tom Pope and I think everyone is confident of the team doing well. Most fans would find getting into the play-offs acceptable – personally I think we will finish in the top five, which for me would be a perfect season because I think we could go up if we play as a team and we have a little bit of luck for once.
Any other business?
Nicki: I really want the club to have a positive season both on the football and community sides. Success on the field will bring more people to the club but seeing the Foundation Trust develop its work in the local community is important too.
Jean: Whilst leaving League One at the wrong end last season was disappointing it does mean we can visit a few different grounds this time round. There will only be two new ones for me – the new Barnet ground and Rodney Parade, Newport – but who can’t be excited at the prospect of the Accrington chippy and the Morecambe pies. Every cloud has a silver lining!
Pete: Things in general seem to have improved at the club in recent weeks. I’ve heard the Luck Seven Lottery could be on the up again after being severely damaged a couple of years ago. The club have finally seen sense and are giving Lottery Manager Brian Lewis an opportunity to build the lottery up to what it was before things were taken out of his hands. It won’t be easy, but if anybody can do it, Brian can – let’s hope it isn’t too late.
Mark: For me personally it was a real honour to be elected as Port Vale Supporters Club Chairman I am really looking forward to working with the committee and being there to represent the fans this coming season. I think the club reducing Season ticket prices and extending the deadline was a fantastic offer for the Vale and it’s been well received from the fans and successful as the sales have gone far above my expectations. Well done to Colin Garlick on that offer I hope they reduce them even further for 2018/19 season I think a sub £250 ticket will hit over 5,000 being sold. Then build on the success on and off the pitch. Up the Vale.
Tune in to Boots Bats N Balls on 6TR www.6towns.co.uk between 10am and midday when we chat to supporters about their thoughts.
If you’d like to be part of the A View From The Stands supporters panel please drop us an email to [email protected] telling us a bit about yourself and which local team you support.