The ‘best £150,000 Vale ever spent’

The ‘best £150,000 Vale ever spent’

Ritchie Hawkins reckons prolific Port Vale striker Tony Naylor was the “best £150,000 Vale ever spent”

He also adds: “After looking through some old folders on my very first computer (brought in 1999), I came across this little article which i must have written for OVF that I had forgot to pass it on. It’s a past player article and this time it reviews Tony Naylor, an ex-Vale centre forward. Now bear in mind I was only 14 when I wrote it…”

Left in its original form, here goes…

Measuring only 5ft 8 inches, you would have thought Tony Naylor may be a little to small for the job as a centre forward, but be prepared to be proved wrong  as I look back at his his career.

After starting life down in the depths of a little club called Droylsden, Naylor moved to Crewe Alex for £20,000, where he spent most of his time up front, getting on the end of free kicks, corners, throw ins and anywhere he could squeeze his petit body to get on the end of a ball.

104 league appearances on, Naylor had bagged 45 goals for the Alex and was an essential part in the Crewe lineup. The£20,000 seemed like the best money Crewe would have ever spent.

Then Naylor sealed a move to Port Vale for £150,000, where things got even better.

He spent seven great years at the Vale, making 207 league appearances and scoring 72 goals along the way. Whenever he picked up the ball, people would always anticipate something magicical  was about to happen.

The first four years at Port Vale were rather quiet for someone of Tony’s capabilities, but he still put the ball in the net more than often and helped Vale gain promotion back to the old Division One.

In Naylor’s last season, Tony played a vital part in a great Vale success, the LDV Vans trophy win. He bagged a handful of goals leading up to the final. He was also the man to fall down in the area and win Vale the penalty that gave them the 2-1 win, which will be remembered for a long time.  His transfer fee was probably the best £150,000 Port Vale had and will ever spend.

So, what happened to him?

Cheltenham nicked him from our feet on a free transfer, a great signing you would have assumed, but since his days at Port Vale no one believes he’s ever enjoyed the same highs he had at Burslem. All good footballers have their day, and I’m glad to say that this little chap had his days at Vale Park.

Thanks for all the memories 🙂

Richie Hawkins

 

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