It only takes a look at season ticket sales at Port Vale to get an idea about the sense of optimism around the football club.
The level of support at a time when no one really knows just how soon anyone will be allowed back in is a measure of where the club stands in the community. The role it has played through this time off the pitch, helping out with meals and everything else, has not gone unnoticed.
We’re hoping that we’ll see people in the stands in October but who knows. Things are changing week by week – but the one thing we know for certain is that, regardless of the situation, there is a feel-good factor back at last.
It feels like a new dawn and fingers crossed the team can feed off the positivity.
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John Askey has got to be clever enough to ride the wave of hope… and to temper it. You don’t get anything because you’ve sold a lot of season tickets.
You have to be difficult on the road and fierce at home. A good start always helps and you have to be difficult to score against. Goals win games and defences win titles. It’s very rare that someone goes up with a poor back line.
The best thing Vale can do is to build up a reputation in League Two where teams are saying: “We don’t want to play them…”
I still remember back in my playing days the Wigan and Sheffield United sides when you always knew you were in for a really hard afternoon. Vale have to build up that kind of tag, have people thinking it’s a massive pitch, they’ll stretch you out and if you can get out with a draw you’ll be happy.
It can’t happen overnight. It comes with performances, winning games and consistency but there’s a grapevine in football and you want people to be talking about how Vale are flying. You want to get in the head of the opposition so you’re almost a goal up before it kicks off.
You want to be one of those sides after 10 games who have dropped few points, perhaps only lost a game… and everyone will see that the team is different, the club is united. All the momentum builds.
If that’s in place when fans start to come back to give everyone another lift then you start to think of fairy tales.
It’s all a dream for now and it will take a lot of hard work to get there – but, hey, this is the time of year for dreaming.