Port Vale’s Tom Pope – What I’m missing about football



What are you missing most about football?

For me it has to be matchdays. That’s what we get all the enjoyment – and sometimes the misery – from.

It’s what we work all week towards, and what fans spend all week looking forward to. But while the job is all about what happens at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, I’m also missing going out and training with the squad, just getting that work done during the week. It’s something I am never going to take for granted after this.

We have breaks in the close season of course but then you know exactly when you will be back in, and so prepare fitness wise to make sure you are ready at that point.

Lots of people will be in the same situation, working from home, and no doubt missing that interaction with people at work. For everyone who loves football, it’s also missing the five-a-side games with your mates, or playing or watching your Sunday League team, whatever it might be.

But it can’t be helped while the whole country is in this crisis. 

Looking back on those matchdays, I enjoy putting myself under pressure for three points, but more than anything what makes them special is the fans. It’s seeing them happy – hopefully! – and on that journey with you.

From this season, great memories are winning at Crewe in front of 2,500 Vale fans, or playing at Man City in the cup.

We didn’t win that one, but playing in that environment and in front of 8,000 Vale supporters was a massive highlight.

So, in the absence of actual games I’ve been watching sport on TV, trying to keep myself entertained  watching re-runs of old Ryder Cups

There has also been plenty of football from the archives, including Euro 96.

That was the first tournament I can remember. England hadn’t qualified for the World Cup in 1994 so this was my first one, sat in front of the telly at home cheering them on. 

It wasn’t just the games themselves though. Because the tournament was in this country, it did seem like a special summer with all the banners, the people in the streets and the ‘Football’s Coming Home’ song that’s still going strong today.

It’s still the best tournament I can remember England being in. Gazza’s goal against Scotland seemed to lift the whole nation and I thought we would go on to win it. Actually we should have, we were better than Germany in the semi-finals, but we couldn’t quite do it.

We had a decent side in 1996, but not the best in my lifetime. The side we had around 2004 was better with Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville. We had some real top quality players in that era and should have done a lot better than we did.

I suppose getting your hopes up only to find England manage to fall short is something we’ve all got used to.





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