A member for a shilling

A member for a shilling

Barry Edge’s memoir reflects on the sad fact that the club’s history has always been about scraping around for economic survival…

It’s 10.49am Saturday 2nd June, 2018 and butt lane vale fan’s post #1524 in the topic thread Shopping List leaves us in no doubt as to his frustration when saying: “…yeah, I know I get emotional and frustrated at times. But remember the 90’s bidding £1million for players, being a bigger club than the likes of Bournemouth, Swansea, Wigan and Brighton. Now we can’t even compete with bloody Mansfield, so yeah I’m bloody frustrated at what we’ve become. It’s heartbreaking to see how far the club has fallen…”

We too feel his pain but sadly, and not for the first time in our Club’s history, we’ve been here before, and I imagine that it’s especially painful for those Valiants who grew up during the John Rudge era.

Both before and after the Rudge era our history shows an economic fight for survival less than flattering to say the least…

For lower league Clubs the constant fight for economic survival vis-à-vis the established elite continues in ways similar to times gone by, and unless bankrolled by billionaires reaching the top flight remains a dream.

Both before and after the Rudge era our history shows an economic fight for survival less than flattering to say the least and includes two Administrations. That we have survived is, in my opinion, testament to the many thousands of supporters over the years giving freely of their time to raise funds and/or donating their skills and labour for stadium renovations. The cold hard reality is that Port Vale, along with similar Clubs, does not represent a sound investment opportunity. In fact it is high risk with little, or no financial return.

As I read it most of our earlier history reveals a beg and borrow approach for materials – e.g. relocation of the Swan Passage Stand from the Old Rec. to the Bycars –  and for conducting bucket collections to buy players, plus other fund raisers to keep us afloat. Of course selling players to make ends meet was always controversial.

I remember after moving back to Burslem money was still being raised to complete the Bycars end of the ground through a ‘join the Supporters ’Club initiative’: annual membership one shilling; life membership one pound. Unfortunately a life membership was way, way beyond my financial reach so I needed to save to become an annual member.

With weekly pocket money of 1/6d it took me two home games to reach my goal which was achieved saving bus fares by walking from Bucknall to Burslem to watch the ‘Vale – a saving of ten pence – and resisting the urge to buy extra sweets.

In my mind’s eye I can see a man sitting in a little hut on the corner of the Hamil Road end and Railway Paddock side of Vale Park, and in return for my one shilling gave me a small membership card and lapel badge.

See you later…

Barry Edge

Western Australia

June 7, 2018

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