Time to praise trusty Tom

Time to praise trusty Tom

Rob Fielding hopes that Vale fans will remember Tom Pope’s contribution to the side on Sunday.

Rob Fielding writes…

Most of the Vale squad’s futures are up in the air but one player deserves a special ovation on Sunday.

The Vale fan, reliable goalscorer, reigning player of the year and loyal club servant deserves a special ovation from the fans…

While the likes of Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall and loyal servants Adam Yates and Chris Birchall all deserve praise, my focus will be on Tom Pope.

If it is the striker’s final game for the club on Sunday (and I hope it isn’t) then the Vale fan, reliable goalscorer, reigning player of the year and loyal club servant deserves a special ovation from the fans.

He may have had an injury-ravaged season this campaign but his value to the team is perhaps illustrated by the fact that the club have used eight other forwards this season and none have matched Tom’s twelve goal tally. How many would Pope have got if he’d been fully fit and started more than the thirty games he has managed?

I hope they banish any thoughts of jeering and remember some of Tom Pope’s career highlights…

Vale fans can (shall we say) be quicker to moan than to praise but I hope they banish any thoughts of jeering and remember some of Tom Pope’s career highlights:

• His first goals in Vale colours during a televised game against Bradford
• The 33 goals that took us up in 2013
• The four goals in the 6-2 win over Rotherham
• A hat-trick against Bristol Rovers on the night that new owners took over
• Another hat-trick in a dramatic 3-2 win over Chesterfield
• The first player to win consecutive player of the season awards

With 69 goals in 195 games, Pope has been a consistent scorer albeit not in the same prolific rate as the likes of Wilf Kirkham or Martin Foyle. Nor is he a one-club man in the style of Roy Sproson and Harry Poole. But he is a Vale fan and he has been a talisman for this generation. Like Foyle, Naylor, Beckford, Guppy and (in my formative years) Andy Jones, he’s a name that Vale fans can chant with pride and in my mind the player deserves a special cheer on Sunday.

I just hope it isn’t the last ovation we give him in a Vale shirt…