Port Vale legend Tom Pope will have his eyes set on breaking Wilf Kirkham’s record number of goals for the Valiants over the next couple of years.
Kirkham finished his career with 164 goals in all competitions. He had two spells at Vale Park. His first was between 1923 and 1929, while he returned to the club in 1932 for another year.
In the 1926-27 campaign, the Vale striker scored 38 goals, which is still a single season record for Port Vale. The prolific scorer spent his whole career in Stoke-on-Trent as he also featured for Stoke for three years, scoring 30 goals in 51 appearances for the Potters.
Although Pope is 34 years old now, he will be hoping he can remain with the club long enough to break the record set by Kirkham. His current deal runs through to the end of 2021 campaign. If his form continues next season though, there is a good chance he will be given a new contract by the club.
Pope has been a fantastic player for Vale ever since he made his debut in 2011. He has once again hit double figures for the campaign, something he has done for the sixth straight year at Vale Park.
The Valiants striker was on the scoresheet for Port Vale against Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup earlier this season. Pep Guardiola’s side, who are 1/200 in the Premier League betting to finish in the top 4 this season, went on to win that game 4-1 but Pope showed he was capable of scoring against the very best.
That goal against City moved Pope up to second on Port Vale’s all-time goalscoring list ahead of Martin Foyle. At the time of writing, he is now 52 goals behind Kirkham. He will need to have a hot run until the end of the season and hope he can have two 20 goal plus campaigns over the next two years.
Best season came in 2012/13
Pope’s best season for Port Vale so far came in the 2012/13 League Two campaign as he found the back of the net on 33 occasions. 31 of those goals came in the league where Vale finished third and gained promotion to League One.
The Port Vale forward was named as the League Two Player of the Year in 2013. He has also been the Valiants Player of the Year on three occasions (2013, 2014 and 2018).
Pope featured in his 500th game as a professional footballer back in September in Vale’s 2-2 draw with Mansfield Town. 318 of those games have come in a Port Vale shirt.
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Another highlight this season for Pope was his eight-minute hat-trick against Cheltenham Town in the second round of the FA Cup. Up until that point, Pope was having to settle for a place on the bench after a difficult run of form.
Whether he gets to Kirkham’s record or not, Pope will always be considered as a legend amongst Port Vale fans as he has been a huge player for the club over the last decade.