Port Vale favourite Scott Brown has given a heartfelt thank you to supporters as he moves on after three years at the club.
The goalkeeper is taking up a player-coaching role at League Two rivals Exeter City after he was one of 15 out-of-contract players released by Vale at the end of the season.
He says he was shocked and disappointed to be let go by Vale but has wished the club all the best for next season.
The 36 year old played every single league game after he was recruited by Neil Aspin from Wycombe in the summer of 2018.
He was named Vale’s player of the year in his first season, a year when he played a crucial role in keeping the club in the Football League.
Now, as he prepares for his next club, he says he appreciates the backing he always felt he had from supporters.
Reflecting on his three years at Vale Park, he said: “I absolutely loved it, right from the day I signed to the day I left, the fans were absolutely brilliant with me and I can’t thank them enough for that.
“I had some lovely messages. People might think they don’t mean anything, but honestly every single message I get really means the world to me. I wish the club every success next season and hope they go and get promoted.”
Brown, from Wolverhampton, had hoped to be helping Vale win promotion when he signed from Wycombe. But he made a significant impact, not least by ensuring they remained in the Football League with his series of superb performances in a struggling 2018/19 team.
Having survived, Vale began to transform off the pitch when Carol and Kevin Shanahan bought the club from Norman Smurthwaite in May 2019.
Brown added: “I did okay. As a team and a club as a whole, that first season wasn’t what I expected at all, on or off the field. But I joined to be closer to home, play for Port Vale and get extra years out of my career and that is way it has turned out. I have managed to get those extra years and be part of a great football club.”
“The club at the end of my first year could have gone out of business, but the new owners have come in and backed every single manager to the hilt, none more so than this season coming. Everything that managers have asked of Carol, she has said yes.
“They are going to have one of the biggest budgets in the league next year, on the field and off the field. That comes with pressure and expectations, and rightly so, because with the size of club, and budget they will have next year, they should be expecting promotion.”
Having been an ever-present this past season he was hoping for a new deal but instead was told he was being let go as manager Darrell Clarke and director of football David Flitcroft rebuild the squad.
Brown said: “It came as a shock. I am never one to go and ask the manager what is happening next season because I believe, if the manager wants you, he will come and tell you.
“The manager was always talking to me about next season and how different it would be, even going into the Grimsby game he was talking to me about next year and things like that, so it did come as a massive shock, but that’s football.
“The manager wanted a complete change, with his own people and his own staff in. That is totally understandable as well because he wants to live and die by his own sword.”
So, Brown will be working for Exeter’s Matt Taylor having accepted the offer of move into coaching.
He said: “I have done my badges and it is something I have always wanted to do. Exeter is a fantastic club with a fantastic manager and coaching staff. I want to help the goalies at the club and a looking forward to it.
“I could maybe have hung around for a couple more years, scrapping about for one or two-year deals, only to be in this exact same position next year. But I want to get started on the coaching because realistically I couldn’t be a number one forever. This is the next stage in my career and there is no better place to do it than a club like Exeter.”