Seventeen failures: Port Vale’s desperate record in the loan market from 2017-19

It is noticeable that current manager John Askey has been both highly selective and successful with his loan signings. Last season he made just two but they were both (Jake Taylor and Mitch Clark) a success.

Askey clearly opts for quality over quantity – sadly this wasn’t the case for his predecessors. In this article we look back at the awful record in the loan market by his predecessors Neil Aspin and Michael Brown…

The view of whether a signing is a success or failure is the author’s own – please feel free to disagree or add your own judgements on the forum…


Neil AspinNeil Aspin

Time in charge:

2017 – 19

Loan signings made:







Dimitar Evtimov: the first signing by Aspin and perhaps symbolic of his spell as arguably events had conspired against the new manager. Port Vale had a long running goalkeeping issue and it got worse when loanee Kelle Roos was ruled out at the last moment, Aspin had to make a last minute signing. In came Nottingham Forest keeper Evtimov but he was at fault for at least one goal on his debut – understandably perhaps as he’d barely had a chance to train with the side. He never played for Vale again. FAILURE

Donovan Wilson: Aspin’s second loanee didn’t fare much better. A highly rated striker who had cost Wolves a substantial fee from Bristol Rovers, Wilson joined in January but didn’t find the target until March. Weirdly after finding the net he wasn’t picked by Aspin again and ended with a poor record of one goal in eight appearances. FAILURE

Zak Jules: Yet another inauspicious signing by Aspin, Jules was signed to strengthen the left side of the defence but was dropped after just two unimpressive performances. FAILURE

Charlie Raglan: After a poor run of signings, Aspin did much better with the signing of former Port Vale youth teamer Charlie Raglan. He hardly set Vale Park alight but was a solid addition to the defence. SUCCESS

Kyle Howkins: A rare success, the towering West Brom central defender’s impact could have been even greater had injury not interrupted his spell at Vale Park. SUCCESS

Kyle Howkins

Kyle Howkins: a rare success in the loan market for Neil Aspin

Louis Dodds: There’s a clear pattern to Aspin’s next three signings as he tried to add goals to the attack but failed. Louis Dodds, a player who divided opinion during his previous spell at Vale, joined on loan from Chesterfield but sadly looked a shadow of the player who had scored nearly fifty goals in his last spell. Dodds failed to score in 17 appearances. FAILURE

Idris Kanu: Young Peterborough striker Kanu did at least manage to find the target but that aside his impact at the club was negligible. He made seven appearances, scoring just that solitary goal (a last minute equaliser against Exeter City) and his season-long spell was ended early in January. FAILURE

Scott Quigley: A second loan signing from League One, Blackpool striker Scott Quigley fared little better than Kanu. He netted once in a Football League Trophy game against Walsall but after just one goal in eighteen appearances his season-long loan spell was also finished early. FAILURE

Mitch Clark: The exception to the rule, Clark was arguably Aspin’s best signing during his spell at the club. The dynamic full-back quickly gained a regular starting spot and impressed so much that the Valiants attempted to sign him on a permanent basis. SUCCESS

Port Vale defender Mitch Clark

Mitch Clark another rare success for Neil Aspin

Lewis Hardcastle: A slight midfielder signed from Blackburn Rovers, Hardcastle was presumably brought in to add some youthful energy to an ageing Vale midfield. However, he barely featured, making just nine appearances, most from the bench, before his season-long loan was also ended early. FAILURE

Adam Crookes: Another defender and another Aspin success. The manager, a former stalwart of the Vale backline did best when spotting defensive talent and Forest youngster Crookes was a steady left-sided defender who would eventually join Vale on a permanent basis. SUCCESS

Mark Harris: Another “nowhere man” striker Harris was Aspin’s final signing but barely featured during his time at the club. Admittedly, much of his spell was under Aspin’s successor John Askey but a record of six appearances and no goals tells its own tale. FAILURE

Port Vale striker Mark Harris

Mark Harris: made no impact at Vale Park

Port Vale manager Michael BrownMichael Brown

Time in charge:

2016 – 17

Loan signings made:







Callum Guy: the first signing by Brown was arguably a decent one. Guy didn’t set the midfield alight but after the catastrophe of the Ribeiro era, his intelligent prompting was a step up. His loss through injury in March possibly played a part in Vale’s relegation. SUCCESS

Tyler Walker: Oh, what could have been… pacy striker Walker looked to be the ideal replacement for the departed Alex Jones but his loan spell lasted for just six games (and two goals) before it ended through injury. It’s not really Michael Brown’s fault the player got injured but for its negligible impact we have to rule it a FAILURE

Olamide Shodipo: Sadly, Brown failed to build on his first loan signings as his deadline day additions had a hint of “panic buying” about them. Winger Shodipo made just six appearances before he was injured on International duty and his loan spell cut short. FAILURE

Axel Prohouly: At least Shodipo made some first-team appearances. QPR team mate Prohouly failed to make the squad and is therefor arguably one of the most ineffective Vale loan purchases of all time. FAILURE

Leo Fasan: Brown had an awful record in the goalkeeping department and the signing of Fasan illustrates this well. Brought in to replace the departed Jak Alwick, Fasan lost his place and ended up being one of three keepers used by Brown in the second-half of the 2015-16 season. FAILURE

Rekeil Pyke: In the summer of 2017 there was a veritable revolving door of loan additions but none of them were to impress. Young Huddersfield striker Pyke was signed after impressing in summer friendlies but he failed to transfer that form to the League. His season-long spell was cut short in January after nine goalless games. FAILURE

Rekeil Pyke

Rekeil Pyke: no goals in nine appearances

Marcus Harness: The Burton player’s impact was similar to that of Jamie Guy who we mentioned earlier. He may not have been a star performer but Harness was at least a consistent starter although he probably wasn’t helped by being played in a variety of positions. He scored twice in 42 appearances. SUCCESS

Tyler Denton: The Leeds defender arrived with some fanfare as he was highly rated by the Leeds fans. However, he failed to make an impact during his spell and his season-long spell was ended early after 21 mediocre games. FAILURE

Jack Stobbs: Jack who? Brown’s prolific work in the loan market left Vale badly unbalanced. As one of three wide players signed on loan, Stobbs barely featured  as League rules restricted Vale to naming just five of their six loanees in the matchday squad. FAILURE

Ben Whitfield: Arguably the stand out loan signing by Brown, Bournemouth forward Whitfield made a significant impact at Vale Park and impressed enough for the club to make a permanent offer. A record of four goals in 37 appearances is a case of “what could have been” as the youngster’s form dipped in the second-half of the season. SUCCESS

Ben Whitfield

Ben Whitfield: arguably Michael Brown’s best loan signing

Tom Anderson: A strapping, old-fashioned defender signed on loan from Burnley, Anderson was a rare defensive success by Brown. However, he was snapped up by Doncaster Rovers in January 2018 as his loan spell at Vale Park ended early. SUCCESS

Kelle Roos: One of a batch of goalkeepers brought  in by Brown after the sale of Jak Anwick, Roos was at least better than some of Brown’s other keeper signings but that’s not saying much when he’s compared to the like of Alnwick, Chris Neal and Scott Brown. FAILURE

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