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Carol in The Times

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I love listening to her and reading her comments. Most of it is just common sense, but people relate to that. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

After 6 years of enduring Fat Face’s comments (remember that local derby we had against Burton On Trent ?) it’s good to listen to someone who knows the score and can relate to us the fans.

Brilliant insight into Smurfthwaite’s Vale and more importantly a properly run current Vale !

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43 minutes ago, Iron Curtain said:

And some kept saying to leave Norman alone... you have all gone quiet. It won’t be forgotten!

There's none left mate. Good riddance to bad rubbish. All the best to Carol and Kevin,

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1 hour ago, Iron Curtain said:

And some kept saying to leave Norman alone... you have all gone quiet. It won’t be forgotten!

There wil still be sceptical people out there waiting for failure.

Personally I'd fail a million times with people like the Shanahans at the helm.

Anyway it won't happen. Onwards and upwards. The future and Port Vale are one in hand.

 

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1 hour ago, RailwayRowdy said:

I love listening to her and reading her comments. Most of it is just common sense, but people relate to that. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

After 6 years of enduring Fat Face’s comments (remember that local derby we had against Burton On Trent ?) it’s good to listen to someone who knows the score and can relate to us the fans.

Brilliant insight into Smurfthwaite’s Vale and more importantly a properly run current Vale !

Totally agree,

A very good read and interesting the comments about the previous dictator which are slowly coming out where once kept quiet.

So much we know, so much we think we know went on but i'm sure that didn't scratch the surface to the actually full on issues he caused behind the scenes - this is one reason why I wouldn't knock Aspin 1) because he kept us up after browns tenure and did a fantastic job but 2) the way the club was ran would erode the most committed employee with they must have had to put up with(prob told not to play players if they were due a bonus etc)

Back on the article, left over pies seriously how low can you get to save pence.

Been said but thank you, thank you Carol and Kevin for caring and saving the club  and I hope these articles in the national press (prev one in daily mirror) stick in the throat of smurthwaite as his ego wanted to control good exposure only

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How interesting would it be if we knew everything that has gone on at the club under Smurfwaite control. I hope that he never gets back into football ever again. However the EFL would probably seem him fit and proper.

Thank you to Carol and Kevin, we are all heavily indebted to you and your family. 

 

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Love Carol to write a book one day telling ALL about her fight to wrestle Vale from the grasp of the hated dictator. We fans really only know a morsel of what was left for Carol and Kevin to repair, reinstate and reorganise. We owe Carol an everlasting thanks for saving our Club. It's now our turn to show faith in this remarkable pair. Together we can see and enjoy our rise from the very depths to a bright, steady successful, enjoyable future. Cheers Valiants, our family is now reunited.

How interesting would it be if we knew everything that has gone on at the club under Smurfwaite control. I hope that he never gets back into football ever again. However the EFL would probably seem him fit and proper.
Thank you to Carol and Kevin, we are all heavily indebted to you and your family. 
 
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5 hours ago, onestepatatime said:

Love Carol to write a book one day telling ALL about her fight to wrestle Vale from the grasp of the hated dictator. We fans really only know a morsel of what was left for Carol and Kevin to repair, reinstate and reorganise. We owe Carol an everlasting thanks for saving our Club. It's now our turn to show faith in this remarkable pair. Together we can see and enjoy our rise from the very depths to a bright, steady successful, enjoyable future. Cheers Valiants, our family is now reunited.

Onestepatatime, your comments are extremely accurate in my opinion. I feel confident that we’ll have the same caring owners for some considerable time. This is how you become successful, by having stability, so let’s build it and it’ll come.I’d like to think that Vale fans will support them starting with bums on seats, merchandise and through purchases. I understand a thread I read earlier about tickets for away games only going to ppl who use PVFC official transport. C&K or K&C however you want to say it, won’t rip ppl off. For me Vale fans want to see players who at the end of the game can say they’ve given it their all and that the team have tried their hardest.

i was listening to the radio yesterday talking about Bury and Bolton. Bury chairman saying there was a lot of hidden debt when he purchased the club, so didn’t carryout due diligence checks. From what I know of him I don’t know how true this is. Bolton have seven players signed two of which are GKs. Bury chairman stating he’s had no support from EFL,unlike Bolton. As I understand it Bury are offering 25p in the £, which seems quite high for clubs going into admin, who normally go for less than 10p.As I understand it, it’s probably that high because he’ll benefit as he’s owed money by the club. He was saying previous owner was running the club as a EPL club instead of league two club. Paying players £9k a week and others who weren’t playing £5k a week.

Make Port Vale Great Again. (MPVGA)

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On 01/08/2019 at 18:33, Doha said:

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Even now, Carol Shanahan shakes her head at the memory of the dreadful state that Port Vale were in under the previous owner, Norman Smurthwaite. “The players were fed left-over pies sometimes,” Shanahan sighs. “The players. Yes, really.”

Under Smurthwaite the League Two club were facing liquidation — “100 per cent,” Shanahan says. The local paper was being banned, fans were protesting, managers coming and going, and the players’ diet ignored. Until Shanahan, and her husband, Kevin, stepped in last May. Owners of a successful computer business adjacent to Vale Park, the couple had been going to games, increasingly sharing fans’ frustration with Smurthwaite. One of the sense-talking owners in English football, Shanahan knows how important Vale are to the community, and people’s lives.

She recalls a recent conversation about the power of football with her youngest daughter, Francesca, who is doing a degree at the University of Manchester in Theological Studies in Philosophy and Ethics. “She said, ‘When I finish can I come and work at the club?’ I said, ‘I thought you didn’t like football much?’ ‘Well, I’m studying faith-based systems and football’s a faith-based system.’ Clubs are religion. Bill Shankly always said that. It’s about caring for the players, giving them the right food, and for the supporters, giving them hope.

“We’ve had two funerals drive past in the last few weeks, one was an old player [Graham Barnett, forward and coach], one a really good fan [Paul Hanks]. The whole club came out and we all applauded, really gave them respect. It’s in their faith. Francesca said to me that night, ‘How privileged are we to work in an organisation that somebody wants to drive past on the way to their funeral?’

“If you worked in Asda for 30 years, you don’t say, ‘can we have one more trip past Asda’. But I want to go past the Vale. I want my ashes to be at Vale, I want my wedding to be at Vale. It makes me even more aware of my responsibility as a custodian. Because we’ve been going since 1876. Look at that history! I’ve heard so many people say, ‘the first time I came to the Vale . . . was with my grandfather,’ ‘the first time . . . we sat over there’, ‘the first time . . . we played Preston’. No matter what else is going in the rest of their life, they’ve got the Vale.”

Shanahan has always loved football, growing up in the West Midlands, her mother was secretary to the doctor who looked after West Bromwich Albion. “As a ten-year-old I used to go on my own, walk down the street and watch West Brom. Jeff Astle! Bobby Hope! When they played away, I’d go and watch the Wolves or the Villa. I just love football.”

Full of energy and ambition, Shanahan was working in computers at 17, and met Kevin when assigned to a British Leyland project. The pair founded Synectics Solutions in 1992, building up a hugely successful company which, amongst other things, designs software to protect companies’ data and prevent fraud. They were based in Newcastle-under-Lyme but needed bigger offices. “The one we found was an old supermarket next to Port Vale. Burslem is really run-down so we started to help, I was doing work in the holidays, feeding kids.” They started with 6,000 meals a holiday, this summer 9,000.

“I said to Kevin if we really, really want to help Burslem we’ll make Port Vale successful because that permeates the community. It’s that whole feelgood factor, it helps our staff’s well-being, helps everybody.” It took three years of on-off negotiating to prise Smurthwaite’s grip off the Vale, paying slightly more than the reported £4 million. “You would never pay for a club like we’ve done,” Shanahan says. “It isn’t worth it.”

Not as a business, but as a community asset? “It was a Sunday morning, and I said to Kevin, ‘There is somebody who’s got our loved one hostage and we’ve got to pay the ransom. When you view it as negotiating with a hostage taker, rather than as a business deal, suddenly the money [issue] disappears. Suddenly, it’s we’ve got to do it. My view was if we are successful in six years’ time, that [sum] is going to be a player’s leg.”

So they paid what Smurthwaite demanded. “Should he have had it? No. But who’s won? When I stand there with all the fans and we’re all together and he’s sat there counting his money, I know which one I’d rather be.” She’s a proper custodian. “He certainly wasn’t.”

Fans love Shanahan, as she discovered when watching Vale defeat Kidsgrove Athletic 2-1 in a friendly last month. “Somebody said to me, do you feel like Jesus?’ ‘No, why would I feel like Jesus?!’ ‘Because everybody keeps coming up and says, ‘Thank you for saving us’!’’ I’m the female Jesus! I feel humbled.

“We had only bought the club two days and a lady called Marilyn [Darcey] came in with a bunch of flowers for me. She was in tears. She said, ‘I’ve been coming to this club since 1957, and I’ve only not had a season ticket the last two years because of what was happening’. And now she was going off to get a season ticket.’’

Shanahan cares. At the 2017 Institute of Directors awards, Shanahan was named “Director of the Year for Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility”. She’s driven by a sense of responsibility and community. “If you look at Burslem, all of the central services have gone, the children’s centre facilities.” So Shanahan opened up the stadium more on non-match-days, signing over the social club to the Port Vale Foundation as a community centre. “For everything from mothers and toddlers to pensioners’ tea-dances, the whole lot. I love what football can do to help the community. I think a lot of teams have moved away from that. That saddens me hugely.”

After first-hand experience with Smurthwaite, Shanahan worries about some owners. She was speaking on Tuesday, at an EFL event held at Nottingham Forest, where much of the talk concerned the futures of Bolton Wanderers and Bury, just as it has been in recent times over Blackpool, Charlton Athletic and Coventry City. She believes the EFL should separate its organisational and policing roles. “How can an organisation speak on your behalf but also hold you to account? There seems a conflict there. There needs to be a separate way of holding clubs to account - and holding owners to account because Port Vale isn’t the only club which has been held hostage.”

She finds some of the EFL rules too lax, some too restrictive. “I’m looking at things like players’ bonuses, and was mortified to find out I have to register something by Friday and that’s it! I can’t then change it! This is my business! What if I want to motivate somebody in December? In some ways, you are very restricted. In some ways, you are too free.”

She’s found some decisions easier, giving a three-year contract to John Askey, who had arrived in February and kept Vale up. “I was very lucky with the manager. John Askey’s local, his dad [Colin] played for the Vale, he’s very gentle on the outside but steely on the inside. He believes, like I do, that we have a responsibility while our players are with us to develop them on the pitch and off.” Signings have been about potential. “I’ve had fans say to me, ‘but you haven’t signed names.’ ‘No, but I sign people who are going to be names’.’’

Negotiating with agents, some driven solely by greed, has been a painful eye-opener. “There are good agents but we’ve come across some you just wouldn’t give the time of day. It’s horrendous. How on earth that whole scenario has been allowed to grow I have no idea. If the rest of the world acted in the same way we’d be in a lot bigger trouble than we already are.”

Club messages are accompanied with the hashtag “#ANewEra”, staff talk about the club being run properly now, of hope and pride restored. There’s a new gym, created when volunteers came in to clear out a larger room and shift the equipment in, allowing the players to all work out together, rather than in small groups and shifts like before.

Shanahan has also tackled the food problem. “They were fed fish and chips on the way back from away matches! It was horrendous. One of the first things I did was sort the kitchen out, bring one of my chefs from next door and say, ‘Right, work with the fitness coach and come up with a menu.’ So now we have proper food. Last time on the coach, we had pesto pasta chicken and that went down really well.”

Saturday brings more good food, following Saturday’s trip to Colchester United as Vale push to rise from the EFL’s lowest level. “We’re not really a League Two club, we just happen to be there at the moment,” Shanahan says. “People say to me, ‘Your stadium’s too big’ because the capacity is 20,000 and I say, ‘No, the league is too low, the stadium’s fine. Let’s sort out the league.”

The passion is there. Vale supporters showed that when taking on Smurthwaite. “Our fans are wonderful,” Shanahan replies. “They’re the best of the 92. They’ve been through so much. I want to create a community so it’s all of us in a cohesive group. They deserve it.”

I have to pinch myself still and think how lucky we are at Port Vale to have Kevin & Carol. I just hope that they and I see the fruits of their labours.

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