Anthony Gardner… if only!

Anthony Gardner… if only!

Ritchie Hawkins takes a look back at the career of Anthony Gardner, a former Valiant who moved into the heady world of the Premiership. Anthony is now a first team player for Spurs and is valued at well over five times the amount of which Vale sold him for in 2000.

OVF viewer Richie Hawkins takes a look back at the career of Anthony Gardner, a former Valiant now plying his trade in the heady world of the Premiership.

If you mention the name Anthony Gardner to football fans, most will recognise the name. If you then mention that he once played for Port Vale, they’d probably give you the number of the nearest nursing home.

Yes, believe it or not it was only six years ago that Anthony Gardner was a young trainee at Port Vale and was making his break-trough into the starting line-up.

Anthony made his home debut at the end of October 1998 in a match which saw Port Vale lose a five goal thriller against Sheffield United. United had taken a two goal lead by the 51st minute but goals from Foyle and Beadle saw them peg it back to 2-2. But an 87th minute strike for Sheffield spoiled a good game for the debutant.

Gardner played out the rest of the 1998/99 season picking up a vital goal against Queens Park Rangers to claim Vale’s safety for another season.

Anthony was described as a vital link in the Port Vale side and it was said that without him, Vale would have probably been in the old third division by the time his first season ended.

Anthony’s second season for the Valiants saw him in a team that had many ups and down on their travels. A league cup defeat to Chester was an ominous start in a season that will be one to forget for the Valiants. Vale found themselves without a win six games into the seasonn; their only point was a 0-0 draw against Blackburn in the first game of the season.

Vale’s first win was overdue and when it eventually came guess who was involved?

Anthony Gardner’s man of the match performance saw him score a goal against Queens Park Rangers and play an absolute blinder. It was witnessed by many Vale fans, including myself. Even though Vale did get their first win, it wasn’t enough to pull them out of the relegation zone, which the side saw a lot of during the season.

Anthony’s second goal of the season came during a very bad spell for the Valiants; Vale went eight games without a win and were rock bottom of the old first division by October 1999 – a year on from when Gardner signed for the Valiants. Gardner’s goal came in a 2-2 draw away at Huddersfield in which Vale had yet again come from behind to secure a vital point.

Gardner was also part of Vale’s derby win against Crewe Alex in yet another overdue win for the Valiants.

The 1-0 victory still not enough to take them to safety. Gardner scored his fourth and what proved to be his final goal for the club when Vale travelled to Sheffield United. Vale secured their third successive win – a 3-1 victory, but the side were still stuck in the bottom three and time was running out.

An FA Cup fixture against high flyers Leeds was a chance to take fans’ and players’ minds off the horrible league form. But hopes of a confidence boost were shattered when Vale were played off the park in a one sided 2-0 defeat at Ellen Road.

Anthony’s second season also saw him pick up only two yellows cards before he left the Valiants for Tottenham in January of the 1999/2000 season. The move left Vale in a near-impossible battle to escape the drop. A deal worth just over £1m wasn’t considered a lot for a young player full of class and a great future ahead of him, but the deal went ahead. Vale finished the season in 22nd position, down and out of the 1st division.

Anthony is now a first team player for Spurs and is valued at well over five times the amount of which Vale sold him for in 2000.

From the troubled times of Vale in the 1st division to the heights of the Premiership, the future could have been so different for Port Vale.

If only…

Now where did I put my appointment slip?

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