Non-League deals are sensible gambles just don’t expect too much

The OVF editor thinks it is too much to expect every “chancer” to fire this season.

Rob Fielding writes…

I think it’s a good move by the Valiants to invest in non-league talent. It has almost been as if the Vale have adopted a long-term and short-term policy with players this season. For instance:

  • Bring in an experienced centre-half (Leon Legge) as a short-term measure, plus Connell Rawlinson (and for that matter Theo Vassell) as possibles for the future.
  • Bring in an experienced mifielder (Luke Joyce), plus Manny Oyeleke and Tom Conlon as possibles for the future.
  • On the wing Vale already had the likes of David Worrall and Cristian Montano (plus last season’s non-league recruit Luke Hannant as a future prospect) and now they have added Brendon Daniels to the mix.
  • Upfront Dior Angus was even announced as “one for the future” when he was signed.
  • Even in goal Vale have the experienced Scott Brown with Sam Hornsby as a young back-up.

It’s not a hard and fast rule and not all the recruits have come from non-league but a fair proportion of them have.

Dipping into non-league isn’t anything to be scared of. Hannant did well last season and in general it certainly hasn’t done the likes of Peterborough United any harm to invest in player from outside the Football League.

However, it by no means guaranteed. For every success story such as George Boyd (brought in from then non-league Stevenage and Craig Makail-Smith (brought in from then non-league Dagenham) there have been failures – such as Ricky Miller (now ironically a Port Vale player).

Even back in the John Rudge days, non-league signings were seen as “chancers” and somewhat hit and miss…

Even back in the John Rudge days, non-league signings were seen as “chancers” and somewhat hit and miss. For every Andy Jones, Stewart Talbot or Ian Taylor there was Dean Stokes, Paul West and Ronnie Jepson.

It’s fair to say that the bookies, usually good judges of a team’s chances, are not blown away by Vale’s chances. Every one from the likes of Ladbrokes to Bet Victor to Dutch online bookmakers think mid-table is a reasonable expectation for the Valiants.

My worry with the influx of potential talent coming into Vale Park would be that despite the bookies not expecting miracles, fans’ expectations would still be too high. It’s surely not going to be possible for all the newcomers to succeed. Some may lack the right attitude, the right character or fall victim to injuries. It even happened last season as Chris Regis failed to make the grade , despite a promising start, and was shipped off at the end of the season.

So, for me, even if only one or two of the newcomers make the grade that would be cause for success. These are very clearly gambles so let’s not set our expectations too high.

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