Weekly Digest: Playing to the whistle…

Our weekly magazine article rounds up stories from the last week and also a few favourites from further back in time.


This week…


In the current media-saturated world of football, a dramatic late penalty for the Valiants in midweek created a minor stir which was no doubt enhanced by a rather hysterical reaction from Swindon boss Mark Cooper. 

You can see video footage here but for those who can’t see it, let’s replay the incident again…

Perhaps Cooper should consider his own words when he looks at who is to blame for Swindon’s loss of two points…

Vale are trailing 1-2 and are awarded a corner. Just before the corner is taken a Swindon player goes down, apparently injured. The ref decides he is not badly injured and whistles for the corner. A Swindon player, perhaps thinking the ref has whistled for treatment to the player punches the ball away. Result – a penalty to Vale, converted by Sam Foley and the game ends 2-2.

Local press reported Cooper’s reaction as: “Our man is down so we’re a man down defending a set-piece, the referee can clearly see it and he chooses to play on. I’ve just said to the players that it is a bit of naivety, you’ve got to let the referee make the decision, you can’t punch the ball away in the box, you’ve got to wait for the referee to make the right decision. But, having said that, once the handball is committed, he’s got to see that and realise that we’re a man down and blow for a re-take of the corner. It is a ridiculous decision.”

It’s a rather odd statement by Cooper. How can you argue that you’ve “got to make the referee make the decision” and then suggest that he’s “got to see that” and  should “blow for a re-take. ” Why should he? Why should he stop the game for an injury that clearly isn’t serious (and looks an awful lot like timewasting for a team 2-1 up)? And why should he give Swindon a second chance if one of their players makes a mistake and concedes a penalty?

Perhaps Cooper should consider his own words when he looks at who is to blame for Swindon’s loss of two points. “You can’t punch the ball away in the box, you’ve got to wait for the referee.” He’s right, as every football player knows – you play to the referee’s whistle.

Millwall switch

Vale’ home game with Millwall has been moved from Saturday, September 5, to Tuesday, September 15 (7.45pm). This is due to International call-ups.

Former Valiants: Ainsworth bouncing back….


Many clubs struggle after missing out in the play-offs and many felt that Wycombe, who reached the final last season despite their scant resources, would be one. Not so. Former Vale winger Gareth Ainsworth has worked wonders for the second season in a row as Wycombe establish themselves as one of the promotion contenders in League Two.

Elsewhere, it was a good week for former striker Tom Pope who netted his first goal for new club Bury and Joe Anyon who is current first-choice for Scunthorpe following an injury to Luke Daniels.

Quick quiz of the week…


Sam Foley netted from the spot against Swindon – but when was Vale’s last succesful penalty kick and who took it? Answer at the bottom of the page…



Nathan Smith continues to earn rave reviews at Torquay. The Western Morning Press commented:  “Port Vale defender Nathan Smith put in a man-of-the-match performance against Woking and even though the 19-year-old centre half is just one month in to his three month loan agreement; Cox will surely want to sign up the player on a longer-term deal.

Smith’s reading of the game is excellent for a player of his age and he’ll surely develop in to a first team player at Port Vale – but hopefully not before a longer stint on the English Riviera.”

Smith played another 90 minutes on Saturday as Torquay drew 2-2 with promotion contenders Grimsby.

Aziz Deen-Conteh is also enjoyed success with Boston Utd. He played the 90 minutes as Boston recorded their third successive win during his loan spell.

Weekly awards…

Man of the match result…


It was a memorable debut for winger Enoch Andoh who was named MOTM against Burnley on his full debut.

The results were as follows:

  1. Enoch Andoh (40%)
  2. Ben Purkiss (32%)
  3. Byron Moore (8%)

Quote of the week…


In contrast to Swindon boss Mark Cooper’s rather hysterical response, Rob Page had a more common sense answer to the award of a penalty to Vale at Swindon. Page simply said:

“The referee has clearly blown to take the corner, so we did. Then their centre-half has decided to jump and punch the ball.”

Tweets of the week…

How the Vale players reacted to the Swindon draw…


Blasts from the past

Foreigners coming over here…


With a feature on Nico Jalink below, there’s a distinct “foreign signings” flavour to our historical section. So, with that in mind, can you answer this question (answers at the bottom of the page):

From which clubs did Vale sign the following players:

  1. Jan Jansson
  2. Arjan van Heusden
  3. Robin van der Laan


Epic Vale Fails: Nico Jalink

Epic Fail Ratings

Cost: Free transfer

Impact: Negligible

Highpoint: Scoring past Peter Shilton

Lowpoint: Having his contract terminated

Jalink was very much the exception that proved the rule for John Rudge’s foreign buys. Rudge was the first Vale manager to look into foreign leagues in any great number – with Robin van der Laan, Jan Jansson and Marc Snijders all enjoying successful spells at Vale Park.

Not so Jalink. He joined compatriot van der Laan in 19991 but Nico’s languid passing style wasn’t suited for the English game and his inability to track back soon led to Vale’s midfield being overwhelmed. It was no surprise when the likes of Andy Porter and Ray Walker were preferred as van der Laan’s midfield partner, in preference to Jalink.

He did offer one moment of quality when his superb free-kick beat former England keeper Peter Shilton in a 1-0 win over Derby but he left Burslem early in 1992 when his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

One hit wonder… Robin Berntsen

We briefly celebrate the brief careers of players who made a solitary appearance for the club.

To continue our foreign theme, let’s recall Robin Berntsen.  Berntsen was a Norwegian player who joined Vale on loan in 1998. He played his solitary match against Sunderland as a right-back but returned home immediately – apparently due to a difference of opinion with John Rudge over his best position in the team. Berntsen sadly lasted just two more years in the game as he retired through injury in 2000.

Image from the statistikk.til.no website.

Video Vault: Last-gasp glory…

To celebrate Vale’s last-minute equaliser against Swindon, here’s a match against Bolton where Ray Walker netted a last-minute winner. It remains Vale’s ONLY league win over Wanderers.

Quick quiz of the week answer:

Michael O’Connor netted in the 85th minute during a 2-2 draw with Preston on April 17th 2015

Foreigners coming over here… answers

  1. Jan Jansson (Norkopping)
  2. Arjan van Heusden (VV Noordwijk)
  3. Robin van der Laan (FC Wageningen)



Weekly Digest: Playing to the whistle…
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