The Fans Want an FA Cup Run
We recently asked a selection of die-hard Vale supporters their opinions on things Vale-related
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 gamesAlly 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.
Dan Beech, from Burslem, is a Vale fan of 30 years and has assumed many roles at the club, including ball boy and programme seller.
Back down to earth with a bang following the home defeat to Swindon Town. What disappointed you most about the Vale performance?
Gerard: I thought that the players looked as though they had reverted to the bad old days of three weeks ago and forgotten the wise words of our new manager. The tempo in the three wins was somewhat different to previous games but we did not appear to possess last Saturday the same spark as in the wins. Ben Whitfield was a massive miss though.
Ally: The performance on Saturday was decidedly underwhelming. The most disappointing bit for me was the lack of passion from the team in the second half. We had been spoiled by enthusiastic performances for a few weeks, then it felt like we had turned back the clock.
Dan: It was the lack of chances that disappointed me most, the team definitely missed Whitfield’s energy. It was a poor performance.
Neil Aspin was blunt in his appraisal when interviewed after the Swindon game. How refreshing is his honesty?
Gerard: I was lucky to be present at the Supporters Club evening last Thursday and whatever Neil does in his term at Vale Park nobody will ever say that he doesn’t ‘tell it how it is.’ Any question was answered honesty and you just knew nothing was a lie.
Ally: Very refreshing… I love his brutal honesty and it demonstrates his understanding of how we all feel.
Dan: I have really enjoyed listening to what Neil has had to say, very open and honest and not something we are used to hearing at Vale, it’s a refreshing change.
Vale face Oxford United in the FA Cup on Friday evening. How important is that match in the grand scheme of things?
Gerard: It would be great to progress in this competition and we know that league points are the priority but if we can make the competition a happy distraction then I am sure fans will get behind the FA Cup. I hope the players do.
Ally: We need a cup run! A good run could buy us players in the January transfer window and it would really boost morale. However, we have a lot of key players with injuries, which limits our options in the league, so we need to be really careful.
Dan: It is an important game as they need to go as far as possible in the competition to allow additional funds to be generated for the January transfer window. Getting back to winning ways as well to bring the confidence levels backup, it will be a big ask though .
Vale follow the Oxford game with a Checkatrade Trophy fixture against Crewe Alexandra with Vale already qualifying and Crewe unable to progress. What can we get out of this game?
Gerard: Neil Aspin has admitted that he needs to see more games to enable him to evaluate the top-heavy nature of the squad. He may decide to experiment with different players who have not even made it to the reserve games. If he bloods some players previously not seen much in his squad he may get some bonuses and spin offs from the game. A handsome victory against our neighbours will give the players he uses some impetus for the future.
Ally: Local pride and a bit of cash!
Dan: It is a good opportunity to have a look at fringe players in a more competitive game than the reserves. Hopefully the game will give the manager a selection headache for the next match if there are some good performances.
Is there anything else Vale-related you would like to share with us?
Gerard: I have alluded to the Supporters Club evening in a previous answer but I have to say it was a great night for all concerned. Fantastic to hear a man with a succinct but honest, forthright attitude with a bit of humour mixed in for good measure. Nobody can be certain that Vale will prosper under Neil Aspin but we can be sure that he is a man who appreciates the supporters and has the background knowledge of what the club and its fans are about. We were brought up on what were, for us, the glory days under Rudgie off the pitch and Aspin on it. Now they’re are back and though I am not one for looking back I hope the times when they were together previously can rekindle that flame. It would be wonderful if they both can.
Ally: We seem to have a goalkeeper curse at the moment. Nine goalies in ten months is ridiculous. How can we create a solid defence when there is no consistency in goal? Concerning all round.
Dan: As I have said previously, it is going to be a season of ups and downs and it is all about supporting the team and the manager to firstly secure safety and I am sure that is something that Aspin will do.
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