John Rudge says seeing Port Vale compete at the right end of the table means so much to him as they try to force their way into the play-off places.
Rudge is football advisor to John Askey having returned to that role under Neil Aspin three years ago. He was also appointed club president at the start of this season.
He says Askey and his coaching staff have done a remarkable job in getting the Vale up to eighth, just outside the play-off places on goal difference, in the first full season for them and owners Carol and Kevin Shanahan.
They are hoping to break into the play-off places on Saturday when they entertain Scunthorpe.
Whatever happens this season, Rudge believes the club is heading in the right direction.
He said: “John and his staff deserve so much credit, they have done a brilliant job, as have Carol and Kevin since they came in. They have bonded us together, especially with supporters who have responded very well.
“When I came back to Vale with Neil, we were at the wrong end of the table with five points from 11 games, and I was really worried about the club and what might have happened if we’d gone into non-league.
“Neil deserves credit for keeping us up that season. It didn’t work out for him in the end last season but John came in, has managed to avoid us going out of the league this season and he and his staff have done a great job.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to be where we are this season but that is down to the players and to John and his staff.”
The 75 year old, Vale’s greatest manager having guided the club to three promotions and three Wembley appearances, rarely misses a match home or away.
However, he was forced out of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Walsall having been taken ill with a hip problem.
He was treated at the Royal Stoke University Hospital last week and spent three nights there. But he’s feeling much better and looking forward to the Scunthorpe game.
He said: “The staff at the hospital were wonderful, both on the ward and in the theatre, and I am very grateful to them.
“I’m fine now, I’ve just got a fitness test for Saturday. People said I was always injured when I was a player. When I was at Bristol Rovers the local reporter said, ‘John Rudge is the only player I’ve ever seen pull a muscle while pulling his tracksuit on.’ I gave him a right rollicking for that!”
John Askey, who has been keeping in touch with Rudge to check on his fitness, says he is a much-valued member of the staff. He added: “John has been important to me this season, it is great to have him around the place and I know he has been enjoying it.
“I think the most important thing is he knows what it is like to be a manager and what that involves. So, there is the odd thing that can crop up that I might be concerned with, and I can always go and speak to John.
“It is comforting to have someone around like that. With experience you learn to handle those situations so, being able to talk to somebody like John is advantageous.”