Today’s edition of ‘In Focus’ centres around Port Vale, who finished third in League 2 last season and will compete in League 1 for the first time in five years in 2013/14.
Micky Adams – Adams was appointed Port Vale manager for a second time in 2011 having taken charge of the Valiants once before back in 2009.
A full-back who made over 400 League appearances in his playing days, Adams’ first managerial job was at Fulham in 1996 and the 51-year-old has since had spells with Swansea City, Brentford, Nottingham Forest, Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City, Coventry City, Port Vale and Sheffield United.
Adams has won promotion four times with four different clubs and has won Manager of the Season twice during his 17 year career.
Key and notable players:
Tom Pope – League 2’s Player of the Year in 2012/13, Pope comes into this campaign off the back of an incredible third season with the Valiants where he netted an astonishing 31 goals in 46 appearances. Pope, who prior to last year had never scored more than 10 goals in a season, was instrumental in the Staffordshire outfit’s promotion last campaign and, if they can keep hold of him this summer, he will no doubt play a key role up-front in 2013/14.
Jennison Myrie-Williams – Myrie-Williams, a 25-year-old winger who started his career with Bristol City, joined Port Vale on a free transfer in July 2012 having impressed during a loan spell the previous season. The South London-born speedster finished last year with nine assists and 11 goals in 50 games and he was also named in the PFA League 2 Team of the Year.
Chris Neal – Neal won Port Vale’s Player’s Player of the Year award last month for his role in helping the Valiants achieve promotion to League 1. The 27-year-old goalkeeper kept 13 clean-sheets in 2012/13 and the former Shrewsbury Town man will be looking to improve on that total this coming campaign.
Vale striker Tom Pope with his League 2 Player of the Year award
One to watch:
Lee Hughes - Joining the Valiants in January following his surprise release from Notts County, Hughes helped carry Mick Adams’ side over the line last season with his 10 goals in just 18 games. A prolific goalscorer at League 1 level, Hughes will be looking to build a strong partnership with Tom Pope in 2012/13.
Stadium: Vale Park (19,052)
Nickname: The Valiants
Kit: White shirt, black shorts, black socks
Port Vale, formed in 1876, won their first title in 1930, 11 years after the Club had been re-instated to the Football League after an absence of over a decade due to financial difficulties.
A year later, in 1931, the Valiants finished fifth in the Second Division, their highest ever League finish date. Their success didn’t last long, however, as they were soon relegated back into the Third Division.
Yo-yoying between the Fourth Division and the Second Division ever since, Port Vale have three League titles to their name and eight promotions, their most recent coming last season from League 2. The Valiants have also won one Football League Trophy and have been to several FA Cup semi-finals.
Port Vale are also well known for their famous supporters, a list which includes singer Robbie Williams, former ‘Blue’ popstar Simon Webbe and darts legend Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor.
Vale, who finished 2011/12 in mid-table, went into last season as many people’s dark horses for a play-off finish.
And the Valiants started their year in terrific goal-scoring form, their most notable display coming in a 6-2 September win over Rotherham United, who would later finish above them in the table. Vale finished that afternoon in second place and they would not relinquish that position until mid-March, when they dropped into third after a run of four defeats in six games.
An upturn in form saw Micky Adams’ men return to second in April but four straight draws in the final three weeks of the year saw them finish the campaign in the bottom automatic promotion spot, behind Rotherham and Champions Gillingham.
Micky Adams and Port Vale have been busy during the summer as they look to build a squad capable of chasing down a second successive promotion.
Despite having the likes of Tom Pope and Jennison Myrie-Williams still under contract this season, the Valiants decided to add even more firepower to their attack with their first signing of the year – Kaid Mohammed. Mohammed, formerly of Cheltenham Town, has often been regarded as one of the most talented wingers in League 2 for the last few seasons.
Elsewhere, the Valiants have handed a new deal to striker Lee Hughes, who impressed during his six-month stay at Vale Park last year while quintet Louis Dodds, Chris Birchall, Sam Johnson, Tom Morris and Liam Chilvers have all extended their stay at Vale Park.
Out of contract star Ashley Vincent, however, has rejected the offer of a new contract after just one year with the club. Vincent is rumoured to be a target for fellow League 2 promotion winners Rotherham United.
Also leaving Staffordshire this summer are experienced defender Darren Purse, Clayton McDonald, Kingsley James and Calvin Andrew while centre-back Jamie McCombe has opted to join newly-promoted Mansfield Town.