Here’s our brief review of the highs (and some of the lows) of the last twelve months…
Player of the year
If we were just including this season then arguably Remie Streete and Nathan Smith would be involved but if we’re talking about the calendar year then it’s hard to look further than Jak Alnwick. He took over the number one spot last season and has gone from strength to strength this campaign. Jak even shaved his beard off for charity recently so in our view he’s a winner on and off the pitch.
Quote of the year
“I will never allow the experience of another Exeter in my ownership of the football club. I will never allow a manager to tell me that’s football and I should accept it. That ain’t going to happen at Port Vale, because if it does, Plan B will be around the corner…”
Norman Smurthwaite’s controversial “Plan B” quote from July
Not the tweet of the year
Valiants. I hope you are starting to see the plan & vision l have for our great Club. Things are starting to gel & the Club is buzzing UTV
— Norman Smurthwaite (@smurfpvfc) August 27, 2016
Memorable game of the year
With nods towards the win over Scunthorpe this season, we’d have to go back to March and a memorable away win over Peterborough United. Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Vale mounted what the BBC called a “stunning second-half fightback” to win the game 3-2 thanks to goals from Byron Moore, JJ Hooper and Louis Dodds. The last two goals came in the final four minutes of the game and the win revived Vale’s hopes of a play-off place.
Forgettable game of the year
The final game of last season ended in a real damp squib with Vale losing 5-0 at home and to bitter rivals Walsall as well. It was a sorry end to the Rob Page era.
Goal of the year
It’s hard to look further than Sam Kelly’s stunning strike against Coventry back in February. It was good enough to voted “goal of the season” last campaign and we’re not going to argue with that.
Stat of the year
Not only did Vale put on an encouraging performance to beat Hartlepool in the FA Cup second round this season but by doing so they ended a 21 game winless streak. Until that cup win Vale had not won on a Sunday since 1988 when they beat Macclesfield Town.
- 29: the number of games Bruno Ribeiro was in charge for
- 34.5% and 37.6% – the respective win ratios for Ribeiro (first) and Page (second)
- 17 – the number of minutes that Carlos Saleiro’s Vale career lasted
- 12th November – the last time a Ribeiro side won in League One
News story of the year
How long have you got? We’ve had Anthony Grant’s sending-off, a long-standing spat with the Sentinel newspaper and the exit of Messrs Page, Dodds, O’Connor and Dickinson… but we’d argue the biggest talking point was…
The appointment and subsequent departure of Bruno Ribeiro
The manager is the key figure at the club and so such a turnaround dominated the forum for weeks. Not only that but a lengthy delay before a replacement was found, phonecalls from Jose Mourinho and the appointment of the club’s first foreign manager were all headline grabbers…
However, after a promising start, things soon started to turn sour with declining crowds witnessing a stubborn insistence on zonal marking and one upfront tactics which saw Vale’s form plummet. It was no real surprise when Ribeiro resigned on Boxing Day saying the “project” hadn’t worked. Few fans would disagree with that statement.
Good news story of the year
But to end on a unquestionable good point, what makes the best news story of the year? For us it has been the rise of Nathan Smith. Untested before the summer he has since become a first-team regular, been linked with top-flight clubs, named as the Football League young player of the month and signed a long-term deal. Not bad for a twenty year-old from Madeley. Well done Nathan!