Barry finishes off the year with a low-key review of the topics and themes that were hot on the Forum in the last twelve months plus how the record for most users on-line at any one time was broken five times.
There is no doubt in my mind that onevalefan is the benchmark for all other Port Vale ‘Web sites to aspire to. In fact, the same could be said for many other independent football forums. By the way, did you know that Rob has previously won a national independent football ‘Web site ‘Award? Well, it’s true and his onevalefan was up against some of the very best ‘Indies’ in the land.
Even Sergey aka Russian Vale Fan has set up a dedicated Port Vale ‘Web site in Russian. Yes, in Russian! What’s more I’ll wager a brick to London Bridge that Sergey’s inspiration is onevalefan? What’s more, it’s my thinking that Sergey will be doing his level best to follow in the same footsteps as Rob in giving his native Russia a ‘Web site worthy of an ‘Award?
We’re a diverse mob on ovf whose many vagaries liven up debate to the point that sometimes several Forum members have been at each others throats – so to speak. But most debate and banter has been good natured and the several contributions made on the front page by ovf regulars helped Rob broaden the topic base for young and old alike. That is: in the name of all things Port Vale there has been just about been something for everyone.
Of equal importance for all Valiants is the time and effort given by Glenn Oliver to act as an anchor in providing an ‘open door’ to the ‘Boardroom and to Paul Humphries for news and views on the commercial side of things.
All of which brings me to the reason for writing this memo.
Whilst it is true that recurring variations on topic themes are part and parcel of onevalefan, there were times when some of those themes and topics reached boiling point. Such as: whose in, whose out; whose on the bench; manager’s tactics; ‘Boardroom activity; what’s the price; will it be all ticket; and so on – to mention but a few.
With that in mind a look back on the hot spots in the last twelve months seems appropriate.
Since December last year ovf has broken the record for the most users on line on five occasions. It all started – surprise, surprise – with the Paladin/Machin/Wakefield debate and reached boiling point when 161 users were on line at 9:55pm on the 29th day of that month.
Good grief, it seems like eternity when the debate again raged as to the what, why, how, when and who should take over our beloved ‘Club. Wasn’t it enough that in the previous two years we had endured and experienced enough miserable twists and turns than the River Trent to last us a lifetime or two (that’s not to say the ‘Trent is a miserable river). The behaviour and performance of our previous owner had given rise to heartache after heartache down a slippery slope towards administration – and almost oblivion.
Nor were we the first loyal followers of a ‘Football Club to experience the agony of watching all that we believe in being slowly destroyed to almost extinction. No doubt we won’t be the last. For me personally there were times when my ‘Thirty Minute Timeouts’ seemed not to do the trick and I probably wouldn’t have offered too much resistance if the men in white coats and carrying a straightjacket had called by to collect me.
Yet here we were in December 2003 embroiled in yet another destructive squabble over ownership. All that I can say is thank goodness common sense prevailed and thanks to V2001 for once again steering us away from danger.
It would be another ten months before onevalfan’s peace and quiet was shattered and the record was topped. That is: shattered in a positive way when the MK Dons made their first ever official visit to Vale Park resulting in 167 users being on line at 2:10pm on Tuesday August 10, 2004. However, it goes without saying that a few ovf users were MK Dons supporters.
Less than one month later the ‘Brooker Rumour’ broke out and onevalefan lit up like a Christmas tree. Boy, were there some angry bellies around the place and Bristol City were getting a right royal serve of ‘on yer bike’. All the gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts reached a peak of 183 users on line at 2:01pm on Thursday September 2, 2004. But it soon calmed down when we were officially informed that the Bristol City FC bids had been rejected. But Bristol City weren’t finished with us and Port Vale (V2001) Football Club Ltd, unbeknown to many of us, knew what they were doing.
Exactly one month later the news most of us hoped not to hear hit the headlines…’Brooker’s Gone’. And no, there are no cigars for guessing where to. But this ‘news’ was only part of the reason why many onevalers in particular, and Valiants in general were angry enough to create a new high of 201 users on line at 1:37pm on Saturday October 2, 2004. You see, we had just lost four on the trot via Huddersfield, Brentford, Blackpool & Colchester. In fact I would hazard a guess that the lack of on field performance just about shaded out Brooker’s farewell.
The next time the record tumbled included a mixed bag of reasons including: the ‘Cup Tie against Kidderminster – the first competitive league or ‘Cup game between our ‘Clubs; Tin Man’s first game in charge as a manager for an F.A. Cup match; questions being raised re Tin Man’s managerial style (after only 6 months for goodness sake); and loan setbacks. On that occasion it was Monday November 1, 2004 at 12:57pm when 214 users invaded ovf at the same time.
Next stop December 2004. Was there ever a more pressing need for a good ‘Cup run and money in the ‘Bank? The game had come and gone. Alas, all the hopes and aspirations that had been placed in beating Blackpool had come to nought. In fact, what had seemed an easy assignment, given they were lower in our ‘Division, resulted in a 1-0 loss. Inevitably the swords were out, questions were being asked and Tin Man was put on notice by the less impatient among us. By 37 minutes past midnight on Tuesday December 7, 224 ovf users were still maintaining a very robust and, at times, heated debate.
With spirits dampened some of the regulars were wondering ‘Where to from here?’ until, that is, later that day when we gave the higher placed Tranmere Rovers a 3-1 league lesson.
Ah well, such is life.
Before I go I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2005. In addition, I’m eagerly looking forward to renewing our onevalefan friendship in all things Port Vale for the remainder of this and many more seasons to come.
December 20 2004