THE OVF WEEKLY DIGEST:  The digest has temporarily moved to a midweek slot and looks at a brave and principled cup decision…


Lead editorial


In recent years the commercialisation of football has led to a mutual love-in between the game’s authorities and media corporations. One only has to witness the near-deification of Premier League “stars” and sky-high TV revenue to realise how both feel this is to their mutual benefit.

Some groups disagree, worried that the money and increasing media hysteria will damage the game in the long-term. Despite their worthy aims, their concerns are largely ignored as the mutual lovefest between game and media continues unabated.

So, it was hugely refreshing to see a club break ranks and take on the media domination. Refreshingly, it came from FC United, a club whose very existence was a righteous reaction to the obscene money swilling into Premier League clubs.

Their concerns are largely ignored as the mutual lovefest between game and media continues unabated…

FC United’s FA Cup fourth round qualifying tie against Sporting Khalsa had been spotted by BBC TV executives and earmarked for a  “brand new BBC Mobile Match of The Day Live experience”. But if the TV producers thought their idea would be greeted with open arms by the non-league clubs, they were sadly mistaken.

In a stinging response, FC United claimed that the BBC plan “included disruption to the pre-match preparations of club volunteers and the competing teams, interruptions to substitutes warming up and interference with the team managers’ match management.”

It continued: “The FC United Board gave a resounding ‘no’ to this request. Match-going supporters should not have to be inconvenienced for the benefit of those who rarely, if at all, attend matches.

It got worse for the BBC with FC United suggesting that the “whole “Mobile Match of The Day Live experience” should have been canned at inception by any BBC Sports manager with an understanding of the game.

“As a public service broadcaster the BBC should be taking a lead by promoting the game without causing additional disruption to match going supporters instead of trying to ape or outdo some of the worst excesses of their competitors.

If BBC viewers would like to understand the fans’ experience at a football game there are numerous real life games at every level throughout the country and the easiest way for TV viewers to access the real fans’ experience is to go along to a match. For a more in depth experience they could volunteer like many non-league fans do week in and week out.”

It does not reflect well on the custodians of our game that they would devalue the sporting integrity of their flagship competition…

But perhaps the most pertinent criticism came towards the end of the statement when it concluded that: “The FA, as the governing body of football in this country, appear to be encouraging ways to cash in on the fans’ experience whilst treating the supporters as the least important commodity in the game.

“It does not reflect well on the custodians of our game that they would devalue the sporting integrity of their flagship competition by encouraging TV presenters to interfere with those in the dugouts or changing rooms when they are working to produce the best competitive elements of the game.

“TV exposure and the revenue it generates are important to football. However, we believe that the balance has swung way too far in favour of the TV companies – and too far away from the match-going, admission paying, regularly attending football supporter.”

It’s a sentiment that most if not all match-going fans will agree with. We can only hope that the media corporations take note.

After all, as the headline on the FC United statements put it: “Football is a sport not a TV gameshow…”

Quote of the week


“Oh great, someone’s brought a drum…”

BBC Radio Stoke’s Phil Bowers fails to appreciate the “party” atmosphere at the Colchester Community stadium.

Quick quiz


tomlinsonVale’s last match was against Burton Albion so here are a handful of questions with “Burton” connections.

 1. Stuart Tomlinson played for both clubs, but how many appearances did he make for Vale?

a. 71

b. 81

c. 91

2. Sagi Burton (do you see what we did there) joined Vale from which club?

a. Sheff Utd

b. Colchester

c. Crystal Palace

3. In which did the first Vale-Burton competitive match take place?

a. 2010

b. 2011

c. 2012

Unsung heroes


A look back at some important but under-appreciated Vale moments

Video from the OVF YouTube channel

It’s perhaps natural that fans will look back with fondness at players, goals and matches rather than routines and that’s probably why the M-B-E routine is relatively unsung.

Nevertheless, the routine set up Robbie Earle (the “E” of the routine) with many of his nineteen goals in the 1988-89 season and played a crucial part in the side earning promotion to division two.

The concept was simple. In the mid-1980’s manager John Rudge had kept faith with a short-corner routine featuring Paul Maguire and this was simply a refinement that took advantage of Simon Mill’s (the “M”) dead ball skills plus the heading ability of Darren Beckford (the “B”) and Robbie Earle (the “E”). Mills would float the ball to the near-post, Beckford would flick it on and Earle would attempt to finish.

It was simple but deadly…

One hit wonder


This series celebrates the story of those players who only made a solitary Port Vale appearance…

Percy Thorpe’s career had a pleasing symmetry that could only have pleased a reliable, disciplined defender.

Thorpe began his career at Blackpool under legendary manager Major Frank Buckley and the right-back was a mainstay of the defence from 1925 to 1927.

When he left in 1928, he became something of a footballing nomad pitching up at five clubs in six years before being signed by Port Vale in 1934.

At 35 years of age, Thorpe was reaching the end of his career and as you’ve probably guessed he only made one appearance for the club – his final game of professional football. Fittingly, it came on the 19th November against his former club Blackpool. In a perfect ending for Thorpe the match ended in a honourable goalless draw with the veteran playing his part in helping Vale to a cleansheet.


Quick quiz answers:

  1. b
  2. a
  3. a