Rob Fielding was delighted to catch up with former Port Vale striker Steve McPhee recently and ask him a few questions about his time at the club.
Firstly, Rob was interested in why McPhee decided to join the Valiants. McPhee explains that it was then Vale manager Brian Horton persuaded him to sign. McPhee commented: “I had the chance to sign a new contract at Coventry but had no guarantee of first team football so after tasting first team action at St Mirren it was a no brainer. Hull also offered something but Vale were first so I kept my loyalty there. Brian Horton had seen me play and said I was going to be a big part of his new team so after discussing his view on Vale and where he wanted to take the team I was sold.”
McPhee then enjoyed a memorable goalscoring debut and the former striker was naturally delighted to begin his Vale career on a high, telling Rob: “As a striker you want to get off to a scoring start to boost your confidence, so scoring on my debut was great and it set me off for the rest of the season and to beat Notts County who were odds on to get promoted at the time was a bonus.”
However, that debut goal wasn’t the most memorable Valiants strike for McPhee. He regards a goal against local rivals Stoke City as his favourite strike for the club: “My favourite goal has to be scoring against Stoke at Vale Park on that rainy Sunday. I remember it like yesterday and what an atmosphere and rush when Brooks crossed that ball in for me to head in. Electric!” McPhee remarked.
Steve McPhee Factfile:
- Appearances: 142+5
- Goals: 44
- Top scorer: 2003-4
- Player of the year: 2004
McPhee certainly has happy memories of his time in Burslem commenting that “I enjoyed my whole three years at Vale, I made some great mates and had some great times on and off the pitch.” I loved the Vale fans and still do. They helped me so much and hearing your name being sung all the time can do nothing but boost your confidence…He also values his relationship with Vale fans saying: “I loved the Vale fans and still do. They helped me so much and hearing your name being sung all the time can do nothing but boost your confidence, so it was great. I always have a soft spot for Vale that’s why am back coaching the under-16s and enjoying seeing the next crop of youngsters coming through. I don’t get down watching the Vale as much as I would like but have always kept an eye on their results.”
Perhaps the crowning achievement for McPhee was the award of player of the year in 2004 and the former striker agrees. “The final year to pick up all the awards was great,” he said. “I was just gutted we missed out on the playoffs. It was the highlight of my career along with getting called up to the Scotland under 21s.”
But what about his exit from the club? Although the player was very complimentary about his time at the Vale, the manner of his exit and some inflammatory remarks from his agent did upset some fans. McPhee explains: “It was hard because I was out of contract and wanted to play at a higher level to test myself. So missing out on the play-offs and the chance of getting promoted was hard. Vale wouldn’t accept any fees, which to be fair, was because the offers were laughable, but I did say if they didn’t accept one I would go abroad.I would have preferred to stay in England but things happen for a reason, I was just a bit sad Vale didn’t get any money for me… I would have preferred to stay in England but things happen for a reason, I was just a bit sad Vale didn’t get any money for me.”
Now, McPhee’s playing days are behind him, but he still maintains a link with the club. “Well I coach the under 16s,” McPhee comments. “I work with Paul Ede whose brother Mick is in charge of the youth team. I love it as I always like to pass on what I have learnt in my career. I have my own printing business now – Minuteman Press Cheadle – but I would love to go into full time coaching again like I did at Blackpool FC.”
McPhee is also a regular visitor to the OVF website and he got in touch after reading Rob’s Cult Heroes feature about the former striker. He told Rob: “When I got told about the cult hero feature, I had a grin from here to Timbuktu. I’m just so happy that the Vale fans still hold me in such high regard and I need to thank them for that. The article was great to read and I was posting links to it on Twitter and Facebook right away.”
So, is McPhee a fan of OVF? “Even when I played I used to go on it and still do,” he told Rob. “It’s great! I love the forum to hear all the chat and thoughts. It’s very up to date with all the Vale news which is great.”
I just want to thank you for supporting me throughout my Vale career…
And finally does McPhee have a message for the Vale fans reading this? “I just want to thank you for supporting me throughout my Vale career,” he says. “And you never know I might be back in front of them one day. Thanks and up the Vale!”
Rob Fielding would like to thank Steve McPhee for taking the time to answer his questions. As a thank you Rob will be making a donation to OVF’s two chosen charities – the Donna Louise Trust and the Douglas McMillan hospice to thank Steve for taking the time to undergo our interview.