Brave protesters deserve our admiration

Brave protesters deserve our admiration

In his latest “One Vale View” column, Rob Fielding reacts to the statements from Black and Gold and North London Valiants who have called an end to their protests.

Rob says he “applauds the efforts of both groups” and their bravery in taking a stand against an unpopular board of directors.

It’s never easy to stand up and take a stand.

Doing so can polarise opinions and leave you open to criticism and abuse from those who disagree with you. So, it’s to their enormous credit that Vale fans such as Black and Gold and North London Valiants (along with others) decided “enough is enough” and stood up to protest about the board.

In my position as OVF news editor, I am also aware of some of the things that happened away from the public eye. These people often put in hour after hour of work trying to persuade local media to take an interest (initially rejected by the way), they endured the often massive financial costs of protests, forcing an EGM and so on. It was not unusual for OVF’s In-box to receive half a dozen pro-change emails in the small hours as these fans literally worked night after night to bring about change.

So, it is with my hand on heart that I applaud the efforts of both groups, who have played a massive part in forcing change at the club.

Let’s take a step back to the era prior to fans getting off their backsides. In those days – fans had next to no information from the club, an ineffective CEO, unpopular directors in power, countless investment opportunities rejected, there was no chance of work on the Lorne Street being complete – all these things have changed (or are set to change) thanks to pressure from the paying customers – the fans.

OK, so the contribution of Messrs Deakin and Lloyd to this new openess should not be forgotten, while the dark days of a fragmented fanbase, the insults hurled from one side to another, the occasional mixed messages and infighting amongst the pro-change groups are wounds that may still take time to heal.

But to focus on the negative would be mealy-mouthed and petty. Despite the odd hiccup, the overwhelming desire for change was irresistible and unprecedented. This mass dissent will go down in club history and its legacy will be a lasting one.

OVF will not forget the efforts of all the pro-change groups (NLV, SEO, B&G and the Coffin marchers) and we hope the board will now deliver a fresh, honest and debt-free future as promised. If they don’t, these groups have ensured they will know the full consequences of not delivering on these promises. As NLV state in their press release “dishonest and unethical” practices will always be challenged – the supporter-base has been politicised, motivated, organised and mobilised. It won’t be sold short again.

OVF is also proud to have also taken a stand and supported the pro-change groups editorially.

I will never regret that decision and I am deeply grateful for the support of every member of the current admin team when OVF decided to take our own stand. As many pro-change messages were not covered by the local, professional media, we feel this amateur fansite, alongside our counterparts Port Vale Online, became the trusted media outlets for the fans. Both sites were able to give fans the full, unadulterated message of the pro-change movement, something the local media often failed miserably to do.

At the very least, I hope OVF’s news coverage informed the debate. It may even have persuaded some of you to pro-change. But make no mistake – our role was merely to act as the “news distributor” and the real heroes were those who organised meetings, press releases and protest marches.

I hope we are entering a new era of openess, honesty, trust and a debt-free, upwardly mobile football club.

And if so, everyone who stood up to be counted and got involved in the pro-change movement can be rightly proud of themselves.

About the author: Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.

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