Vale v Crewe – is it a true derby?
We recently asked a selection of die-hard Vale supporters their opinions on things Vale-related.
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.
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.
Gerard Austin, from Hartshill, is the club’s match photographer, a role he has undertaken for a number of years now. He attends all Vale’s home and away games.
Ally Simcock, from Stoke, is on the national council of the Football Supporters’ Council and is a support liaison officer at Port Vale and former Chair of the Supporters’ Club.
Some fans are saying things are no different from last season and Vale are signing quantity as opposed to quality. What do you feel about it all?
Jean: I believe we have signed twenty-eight new players since January. Eleven of the twelve signed last season are no longer with us. It does look as if we are bulk buying in the hope that a few turn out to be gems. I’m not convinced that this is the route to achieving success.
Mark: I can agree slightly I think we have gone for quantity rather than quality, however, I think Michael Tonge has been a good addition as has Tyrone Barnett apart from his injury he looked really good when he scored two goals at Kidsgrove. I think I would like to see a couple go out on loan there are some who possibly need this. I was disappointed we didn’t get Tyler Walker in on loan don’t think we stand a chance now he scored the winner for Forest at Newcastle in the Carabao Cup this week, but we definitely need a midfielder with experience and I’d like to see a defender plus a forward come in before the deadline closes this week. Maybe even try and bring back Chris Eagles he would be an excellent addition for the Vale
Gerard: It’s always difficult putting together a team from scratch and Michael Brown has had to do that this closed season. Over the last 12 months I’d guess the club must have signed around 50 players or so and this has coincided with us being in the position we are. This season’s playing staff has a look of a good mix between youth and experience, but to date I feel we are still short in many departments. Our early mixed start spins of the management searching for the right formula. Time will tell as to whether it’s quantity over quality.
Ally: I think we have made some decent signings this year. However, a newly relegated team in League two is not the most attractive option, meaning we made some quite late on in pre-season and the team hasn’t had a great deal of time to ‘settle in’.
Near neighbours Crewe Alex make the short trip to Vale Park this weekend How big is the game at this stage of the season from a Vale point of view?
Jean: I believe three points are pretty vital in this game. The very least the fans need to see is an improvement in performance. The Wycombe game was very poor and Chesterfield was little better. Michael Brown needs to show that he can send out a team which is organized and determined. No excuses for this one.
Mark: I think this game is really big as we need to try and put right the results from Wycombe and Chesterfield, which were disappointing. We definitely need to try and win this game – a defeat will not give the team confidence, which we really need at the moment.
Gerard: From a Vale point of view I think it’s essential you get back on track (somewhat appropriate against the Railwaymen) as quickly as possible. If I rated it as local derby and I don’t really the ‘big game atmosphere’ could motivate us to go for a handsome victory. I do have a plan though and that is to start the game as we finished the Wycombe one. We may have a chance of that victory then.
Ally: It is very big for us, especially with being only the second home game this season. Fans are frustrated after the first game’s result and we need to keep the home fans engaged to ensure their continued return. If attendances start to drop at this stage, it could be difficult to get them back up again.
It’s that old debate. Some say Vale versus Crewe is not a ‘true’ derby match, whilst others would argue that it very much is. What is your opinion and why?
Jean: Crewe is the nearest team we will play this season so in that respect I suppose it is a derby, but I never think of it in those terms. It would only be a derby if Stoke didn’t exist, but sadly, they do!
Mark: I guess you can see it as a derby as they are only up the road so South Cheshire/ North Staffordshire derby is fine, but it isn’t a proper derby – that would be between two teams from the same city, ie Vale v Stoke, Liverpool v Everton, Man City v Man United. To be honest I look forward to playing Crewe. Let’s hope I’m smiling at 5pm on Saturday.
Gerard: I’ve answered this in the last one, largely. I never see it as a derby. Crewe struggle to bring an army of fans to the game even though Vale sell out quickly at The Alexandra Stadium, but our local derby is the Stoke one. Sadly, the likely hood of a league game of that magnitude is somewhat a lifetime away at present.
Ally: I never see Crewe Alex as a true ‘derby’ game, for me that will always be Stoke City. This is mainly because I grew up in Stoke and was in the minority of Vale fans in my school. This meant I was constantly engaged in rivalry banter with my friends and had to defend my choice of local team. Despite us not playing them recently, this still resonated within me and will probably always remain. That said, I do feel a small sense of rivalry with Crewe and will want to beat them on Saturday!
Confidence has taken a bit of a knock since the opening day at Crawley. What must Vale do in the two up and coming home matches to lift everybody’s spirits?
Jean: The obvious answer is to win six points. To do so I feel we need to be on the front foot from the first minute and keep our shape. Two strikers in their correct positions might be a good plan as well.
Mark: For a start not give silly goals away and for me we need at least one win and one draw out of the two games. Find a settled side and go for it, that’s what we need and I feel that we can actually start to gain some confidence if we can do that. So at the very least we need to try and win the games.
Gerard: People cry out in Stoke on Trent to see eleven totally committed individuals on the pitch and will put up with a defeat if that is given. I concern myself that whilst Browny is searching for his best team that some maybe players will be frustrated at being substituted before the finish, having given their all. Players do need to earn the right to keep the shirt and once Vale can become consistent, spirits will be lifted. Let’s hope it’s not March before that consistency is achieved.
Ally: The team needs to put in a decent performance to really enthuse the supporters. Fans want to see 100% effort from all players; this is how we lift people’s spirits. A few more wins under our belts and the atmosphere will feel very different.
Any other business?
Jean: Chesterfield’s Jordan Sinnott was extremely lucky to avoid any censure with his reaction to his goal for Chesterfield last Saturday. Dan Turner was booked for celebrating his first league goal with his own fans whilst Sinnott escaped scot free, despite running towards the visiting fans and deliberately inciting them even though he had not had any abuse during the game. He is a very silly boy and needs to grow up.
Mark: I thought that I would mention the Ernie Moss day at Chesterfield, which was a fitting tribute to a great servant and a great player. It was emotional to watch Ernie, along with his family, take the ball onto the pitch at Chesterfield. When everyone stood and clapped in the 8th minute for Ernie Moss it was a wonderful moment. Again, when Football unites to see both Vale and Chesterfield fans honouring a legend was incredible a magical moment. Ernie Moss played alongside my Port Vale hero Bob Newton and the Vale fans used to and still sing today ‘Bobby is our King’, well Ernie was the Prince, he was the Player of the Year in the 1981/82 season and that was no mean feat when you think of some of the players in the team that season were of top quality, with the likes of Mark & Neville Chamberlain, Phil Sproson, Jimmy Greenhoff, Tony Sealy. Even Lemmy and Motorhead graced the hallowed turf at Vale Park, so you can really see how well he did to be Player of the Year. As Ernie continues in his fight against Pick’s disease, a rare form of dementia, I know everyone connected to Port Vale Supporters Club will wish him all the best.
Gerard: As I write Vale appear to still be looking for players, but the need for a goal scorer is paramount. Yes, everyone wants one and contracts for good ones cost, but at Chesterfield I noted that the first 20 minutes apart, we didn’t create enough for a goal scorer to notch. Tom Pope is not now somebody who will score a hat full. Incidentally he’s still a fine player and a totally committed guy who always gives 100%, but we need somebody to feed off him and not necessarily feed him, as the chant goes. I just hope it isn’t too early for Dan Turner. A lot of pressure on his young shoulders, even though he is hot prospect.
Ally: Vale’s fanzone will be open again on Saturday before the match. It is situated inside the Academy building and will include a face painter, bubble football and penalty shoot outs. All are welcome.