Tom Pope – Why finishing the Lorne Street is emotional to Port Vale fans like me



The Lorne Street Stand will always be special to me, so it’s great to see it looking finished after seats went in last week.

Like lots of fans, I grew up watching the Vale there when it was standing. In fact, I used to stand in that same part that has been unfinished since the new stand was built 20 years ago.

That was where my granddad and my uncle Tom used to take me.

It felt to me like it was always full, and, in the big games like the cup matches like Everton and Arsenal, you were like sardines.

My granddad died a few years ago so those memories are emotional for me.  So, when I was running out and seeing nothing but empty concrete blocks and steps, I did think ‘my granddad stood there for 50 years and now there’s nothing.’

So, it’s nice to see there are seats in there now. I know they still have to put the concourse in but at least at some point people will be able to go back in there and create their own memories of watching the Vale there.

In my case, I started when I was about five. My dad wouldn’t let me sit in the Railway because that was where all the swearing was going on, but he said I could go over in the Lorne Street with my granddad.

Mind you, I do remember one game where there was a lot of trouble and fans came over the sides. There was my dad letting his six year old kid stand with his granddad right next to it while he was sat with his mates on the other side of the ground!

We used to stand by the tunnel and get autographs of the players – and you wanted everybody’s.

Martin Foyle was always my hero because he was a goalscorer, but when I look back at the team in that era, it’s remarkable the quality we had.

Because we have had 20 years now of League One and Two football, people who don’t follow the Vale might just associate us with that. But we are talking about a club that was close to the play offs for the Premier League.

People talk about my goals and going past Martin Foyle’s goals record, but it doesn’t compare because he was doing it in the Championship.

We had Jon McCarthy, Steve Guppy and Gareth Ainsworth all in about the same period for goodness sake,  not to mention Ian Bogie, Andy Porter, Dean Glover, Tony Naylor, Ray Walker, Ian Taylor, Allen Tankard, Robin van der Laan…..the list goes on and on.

Watching the Vale as a kid, it was all about the matchday at the Vale. I’d be playing football outside or at school with my mates while counting down the sleeps until the Vale game.

Even now that hasn’t changed because it’s still all about the matchday, whether you are a player, chairman or a supporter.

The players know it’s not just about us, we are going out there to try to give supporters something to dream about.

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