Barry’s appreciation for the way that onevalefan connects him to his beloved Port Vale is well documented on this site. But following recent cyber crashes, he began to wonder what the ramifications would be for the ‘Lads if they had a cyber manager.
Sure, we can share his frustration and with each crash empathise his dilemma. He works his fingers to the bone to bring to Valiants everywhere a product second to none. He connects us in ways we dared not dream of prior to the Internet. He gives us a quality forum to remain emotionally and spiritually at one from where it all began. Thanks to Rob and onevalefan we can always be in and around the hallowed turf of Vale Park and be able to communicate with each other whenever or wherever we may be in this modern day global village of ours.
Only Rob knows the full extent of the long hours burning the midnight oil, drinking copious cups of coffee and perhaps taking one or two headache pills, of keeping his day job going, attending as many games as possible, keeping the ovf family together, and fighting the good fight to save our beloved ‘Club from those whose intentions are less than honourable.
To Sir Rob of onevalefan…we thank you.
All that we need now is success on the park. Over to you Brian. But hang about, what if the ‘Lads had a cyber manager? Would they do better? Could they do better? What would be the ramifications of such a bold move? For instance, if the team were to be kept up to speed with new ideas similar to computers, would it be silly to suggest that Port Vale would now be in both the Premiership and the Champions League? Let’s go and see.
Obviously the characteristics of a human being vis-à-vis a cyber manager will be vastly different and both will have their flaws. For instance, there may be problems for the cyber manager at the outset after pressing Start> Programmes> Accessories. What choices would a cyber manager make here? Entertainment or Games; a mix of both? And how will that decision be communicated to the players? Will the cyber manager have his Favourites? What Settings will be deployed? And so on. My head is hurting already.
Right, the team is finally sorted and the large crowd eagerly awaits further success. Okay then, there’s the ovf family huddled together in the Bycars; MCF and Junior in the Hamil End; P C Owner in the Director’s Box; and Burslem Babe keeping watch to stop undesirable viruses from entering the ground via the unfinished part of the Lorne Street Stand.
As the tinny sound of ‘The Wonder of You’ drones out from the tannoy, and Boomer desperately trying to generate a Mexican wave, the ‘Lads stand and wait in the raceway ready to enter the arena for another gladiatorial contest against the mighty Stoke City FC – ’72 and all that jazz. Then, just as the referee signals the players to run out onto the park a chilling scream is heard coming from the Director’s Box followed by the very loud words ‘The [ovf censored] thing’s crashed on me!’
The referee expels an audible sigh of disbelief, picks up the ball and, along with the other match officials, heads of in the direction of the pie stand. The Stoke City players taunt the ‘Lads that they won the ‘Thingy Cup in ’72. The ‘Lads counter that with a semi-final berth in the ‘Big Cup back in ’54. Tall Paul puts his camera away whilst Love Rapt and Lodge Gate go and queue up for a round of drinks. MikR and Stone Valiant argue, discuss, compare and contrast the various bids to buy Port Vale FC. Paul T Vale disappears to the ‘Club shop to try to change his angel’s Angell shirt. Meanwhile, Sean Ryan in the US of A listens intently to BBC Five Live for the score. Aussie? He’s in the arms of the nearest straightjacket – which makes typing this article bloody difficult.
As quick as a flash a member of the PR Department is sent down to the Burslem open markets to pick-up a second hand ‘mother board’ with the message not to spend all of the ten quid. ‘After all, we may have to buy a player for the second half. So any change will come in handy’.
In what seemed an eternity the messenger returns with the ‘mother board’ plus £9.22p in change. He apologised for taking so long saying he wasn’t sure whether it was left or right at Northwest Terrace to get to the markets and had not that nice lady in High Lane, wearing a red and white scarf, given him directions he would still be lost…’Such a happy lady too. What a laugh she had’.
The voice via the tannoy announces that the ‘mother board’ has been installed. Unfortunately, there will be a further delay because ‘some silly sod’ forgot to buy extra pre-paid Internet hours. Then, almost unbelievingly, a plaintive tannoy voice says ‘If Mr. Robert Fielding of onevalefan is in the stadium could our cyber manager borrow your laptop for the rest of the game?’
Burslem Babe was now back with the huddled mass in the Bycars. She mentioned everything was okay over in the unfinished Lorne Street Stand. Oh, there was one strange incident though. A bloke with a funny accent calling himself Cardiff City Bluebird Two wanted to know where he could find ‘that [ovf censored] Australian Cooee bird’. She had sent him on his way with pie of lard and directions to the Birdsville Track, Australia. Love Rapt and Lodge Gate were still queuing for the drinks.
Having gone through the Start> Programmes> Accessories etc all over again, the players were out on the park mixing it in a fast and open game – end to end stuff. Then, for no reason whatsoever, one of our forwards ‘drops off the screen’ just as he was about to score a goal. Well, talk about a cyber manager’s frustration. Not to mention that of the capacity, er sorry, huddled mass in the Bycars. The referee is forced to stop the game. He picks up the ball and, with the other match officials, heads of to the pie stand once again.
Love Rapt and Lodge Gate are back with the drinks; an apology for the overcrowding in the Hamil End blares across the ground; Boomer is still trying to generate a Mexican Wave; Tall Paul still hasn’t taken any pics; MikR and Stone Valiant are still engaged in a robust exchange re the merits or otherwise of the various bids to buy Port Vale FC; Paul T Vale is still at the ‘Club shop; Sean Ryan in the US of A has fallen asleep by his crystal radio; and Burslem Babe keeps looking over her shoulder. Aussie? He’s down the Birdsville Track laying in wait for a Bluebird with a funny accent.
Just as the pie stand was about to run out of stock an announcement that there had been a successful closing of all of the windows, the pc shut down, restarted again, and windows reopened. The game would go to full time after all.
The match officials wobble back onto the pitch and the game recommences. Love Rapt and Lodge Gate go off to get more drinks in. Trent Vale Valiant arrives late and wants to know if he’s missed anything. When asked how he got a leave pass, he said he told Mrs. TVV that he was going on a works outing. Apparently TVV does not have enough match day credits in his emotional bank account.
It’s nearing half time when one of our wide men turns to his left instead of his right. There is an immediate Shut Down of play. Unfortunately, the referee is unable to restart the game. So he calls half time to give the Port Vale cyber manager time to replace the offending player. The players’ and match officials make their way off the park.
Port Vale 0: Stoke City 0
During the interval an invitation is extended to MCF and Junior to meet the ‘Board and cyber manager. This is refused out of hand by MCF with him saying something about being ‘born to be loyal, proud and Stoke’. Was it his way of saying thank you, but no thank you?
Of course, all this stopping and starting stuff to the game could be avoided if the sun powered the pc. Then again, in Burslem, perhaps not.
The second half gets under way and Port Vale are challenging Stoke’s goal at the Hamil End of the ground. In eager expectation Tall Paul gets out his camera and sprints down the Railway Paddock side of the pitch. He is about to take the pic of the century when the cyber manager is confronted with a dialogue box saying ‘This Player Has Performed An Illegal Operation’. ‘Sod it! Sod it! Sod it!’ He shouts – amongst other expletives.
The match officials stagger to the pie stand yet again; Love Rapt and Lodge Gate return with the drinks; Burslem Babe tells Trent Vale Valiant about her forthcoming trip to the Emerald Isle; An announcement over the tannoy enquires if it will okay to keep Rob’s laptop overnight; and Sean Ryan in the US of A has woken up and wonders what the score is. Aussie? Still in his straightjacket and still hiding down the Birdsville Track. However, news filters through to the crowd – you know what I mean – that the cyber manager has sent out a request to borrow Aussie’s straightjacket.
With play about to resume once more the cyber manager is asked the question ‘Are you sure?’ He isn’t. So he presses Ctrl> Alt> Delete to End Task before starting all over again.
The game finally and mercifully comes to an end; it’s another famous scoreless draw; the cyber manager saves the record to share with his players at a later date; the match officials have indigestion; Love Rapt and Lodge Gate suggest they retreat to the Port Vale pub for an ovf nightcap or three; Paul T Vale is dragged screaming from the ‘Club shop shouting something like ‘they wouldn’t know what [ovf censored] PR was if it ran over them’; MCF and son left the ground ages ago; and Sean Ryan in the US of A makes a note in his ovf diary to share the magnificent day’s event with his grandchildren. Aussie? He’s gone for a ‘thirty minute time-out’.
With the exception of the cyber manager everyone has gone home. He is still struggling to come to terms with one more vexing question…’Why do I have to press the Start button to stop the game?’
Perth, Western Australia
February 7, 2003