Former Port Vale striker Tom Pope has joined non-league Congleton Town.
The Bears announced the recruitment of the Valiants legend among a raft of new signings today – which also included ex-Vale midfielder Gary Roberts.
Pope was one of 15 players released by boss Darrell Clarke at the end of the League Two season as he looked to reshape his squad.
Pope’s departure ended a wonderful playing career with his home-town club having scored 115 goals in his two spells, making him the club’s post-war record scorer.
He netted 33 in the 2012/13 League Two promotion season in his first spell then was crucial in keeping Vale in the Football League in his second.
The striker is 36 in August and hadn’t been able to feature regularly under Clarke because he was making his way back to fitness after breaking his arm and damaging shoulder ligaments in the EFL Trophy defeat at Sunderland.
Typically, he played on with the injuries because all the substitutes had been used and he didn’t want the team having to finish the game with 10 men.
He has now opted to link up with North West Counties League Congleton, who are managed by his former Vale team-mate Richard Duffy.
Duffy took over as first-team boss back in May following Ryan Austin’s decision to step down from the role.
Midfielder Roberts, aged 34, joins Congleton from National League North side Chester.
He was a fans’ favourite at Chester and made 46 appearances for Vale in 2010/11.
Roberts progressed through the Crewe Alex academy, before having spells at Yeovil, Mansfield and Rotherham United.
Congleton also announced the arrival of Brian Barton, MacKenzie Faulkner, Pete Williams, Josh Beaumont and Dan Needham to their squad.
The Bears were initially moved into the Midland League for the upcoming campaign, alongside Hanley Town. However, they won their appeal against the decision and have remained in the North West Counties League.
Pope and Roberts could have the chance to face the Valiants on Tuesday when a Port Vale XI take on Congleton in a pre-season friendly.
Congleton then start their NWCL Premier Division campaign on Saturday, July 31 when they head to Longridge Town.