All smiles at Vale Park – this summer shows clear signs of a club on the up

Rob Fielding says that while this summer has been a testing time for the whole country, the Valiants are a rare ray of sunshine.

Rob Fielding writes…

What a summer Port Vale have had! Despite the understandable struggles of the global pandemic the club’s reputation is clearly soaring right now.

The club’s reputation is clearly soaring right now…

First of all, we had co-owner Carol Shanahan’s magnanimous gesture to end the season despite the Valiants lying just one place from the play-offs. According to Shanahan, it was a difficult decision but one she took because “it was for the greater good. I think it was the right thing to do.”

The “right thing to do” was a recurring theme off the pitch as the Valiants topped up their furloughed players salaries and then embarked on an epic off-field venture to provide 100,000 meals and counting to those in need. It’s an astonishing accomplishment. After the turmoil of recent years, the fans now have a football club to be hugely proud of.

The owners have also made their own mark on Vale Park history by completing the seating in the Lorne Street stand. A project that was started 28 years ago, it’s a case of “better late than never” and another sign of the upwards trend the club is embarking on.

When it comes to matters on the pitch, there is much to celebrate as well. Vale fans are often resigned to losing their best players so it came as a huge and pleasant shock to learn that key defender Nathan Smith had committed himself to the club. Smith’s signing meant that all seven out of contract players to be offered deals accepted them. The players clearly want to stay with the Valiants and it gives manager John Askey a settled core to his squad next season. Add a few quality additions to that settled squad and the Valiants could be in real contention for a promotion place.

Ultimately Port Vale and its owners will be judged more by performances on the pitch than off it but when the next season starts this summer’s activities will have given Vale fans plenty of hope that this is a club on the up.

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