2010–11 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
2010–11 season
Chairman Bill Bratt
Manager Micky Adams
(until December)
Jim Gannon
(January until March)
Mark Grew
(caretaker from March onwards)
Stadium Vale Park
Football League Two 11th (65 points)
FA Cup Third Round
League Cup Second Round
League Trophy Second Round
Player of the Year John McCombe
Top goalscorer League: Marc Richards (16)
All: Marc Richards (20)
Highest home attendance 8,607 vs. Crewe Alexandra (30 October 2010)
Lowest home attendance 2,442 vs. Rochdale (31 August 2010)
Average home league attendance 5,533
Home colours
Away colours

The 2010–11 season was Port Vale's ninety-ninth season of football in the Football League, and third successive season in League Two. Vale enjoyed a solid start to the campaign, looking like good prospects for promotion. However Micky Adams left the club in December to take charge of Sheffield United, leaving the promotion push to be finished by new man Jim Gannon. Gannon's traumatic reign ended after just two months; his exit confirmed after players, staff and fans turned against him. Vale exited the FA Cup at the Third Round, and left both the League Cup and the League Trophy at the Second Round. In the background, numerous groups and individuals expressed their willingness to purchase the club. The board turned away these investors – to the anger of some fans, who formed a 'Black and Gold' campaign demanding that the club be sold.

The turbulence of Gannon's reign, typified by a bust-up on a pre-match journey that became known as 'busgate', and the boardroom battle between multi-millionaire Water World owner Mo Chaudry and Bill Bratt's Valiant 2001 led some to call the season a 'soap opera farce'.[1] At the end of the campaign Micky Adams returned as manager, giving fans cause for optimism following a highly disappointing season.

Micky Adams left the club in December.
Jim Gannon was appointed as manager in January.
Top scorer Marc Richards.
New signing Justin Richards.
Caretaker-manager Mark Grew took charge after Gannon's departure.
John McCombe was the club's Player of the Year.

Overview[edit]

League Two[edit]

Before the start of the season there was speculation that manager Micky Adams would be approached by his former employers at Championship side Leicester City, having impressed in his position at Port Vale.[2] Adams continued to make his mark at Vale though, releasing nine players, and signing Sean Rigg,[3] Stuart Tomlinson,[4] Justin Richards,[5][6] Ritchie Sutton and Gary Roberts.[7] Lewis Haldane was rushed into hospital after being bitten by an insect during a training session,[8] forcing him to miss the first half of the season.[9] Adams drafted in Reading winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie as a loan replacement for Haldane,[10] and after an initial one month period then replaced Bell-Baggie with Milton Keynes Dons loanee Jemal Johnson.[11]

After his side won their opening four away league fixtures for the first time in their history,[12] talks began to extend Adams' contract beyond 2012 as early as September 2010.[13] Five wins in five for September saw Adam's gifted the League Two Manager of the Month award,[14] his team also boasting five clean sheets.[15] In October, Anthony Malbon was loaned out to Newcastle Town,[16] and was later released so as to allow him to join Leek Town permanently.[17] Taking Malbon's place on the bench was Jake Speight, who joined on a two-month loan from Bradford City.[18] Micky Adams was also handed the award for November, after his club advanced into the Third Round of the FA Cup and rose to the top of the League Two table on the back of five clean sheets in seven games.[19] For his strong performances, John McCombe was also nominated for the League Two player of the month award.[20] Departing for his boyhood club Sheffield United at the end of December 2010, Micky Adams left Vale in second position in League Two,[21] though on a poor run of form.

Jim Gannon was confirmed as manager on 6 January, signing a contract that lasted until summer 2012.[22][23] Saying that finishing outside of the top seven would be a failure, the Cheshire-based manager's first task after 'burying the hatchet' with Gareth Owen was to look for a new striker,[24] as injuries struck down both Marc Richards and Doug Loft. Two weeks into his reign club captain Tommy Fraser left the club by mutual consent,[25] and signed with Barnet.[26] Marc Richards was handed the captaincy.[27] Gannon brought in Romaine Sawyers and Kayleden Brown on loan from West Bromwich Albion,[28] Jay O'Shea on loan from Birmingham City,[29] Exodus Geohaghon on loan from Peterborough United,[30] and striker Tom Pope on loan from Rotherham United.[31] Losing four of his first five games in charge, Gannon was forced to respond to criticism over his team selections and substitutions,[32][33] and announced plans to expand the club's non-playing staff.[34] On 1 February the players met with the chairman and rumours spread that Gannon had 'lost the dressing room', as comparisons were made with the tenure of Brian Clough in The Damned United.[35] Yet the next day an O'Shea volley gave Vale a 1–0 win over promotion rivals Rotherham United to give Gannon his first win in charge at the club.[36]

However tension remained, as proven at the end of the month when it was reported that Gannon left the team bus on a pre-match journey after rowing with assistant manager Geoff Horsfield (who had been appointed by Adams).[37] Gannon had previously told the press his staff were 'underqualified', though insisted any changes would be 'implemented at a later stage' and that Horsfield was a 'great assistant'.[38] This came on the same day that local paper The Sentinel ran an editorial that questioned his loan signings, his decision to drop Gary Roberts and branded his tactics and team selections as baffling.[39] After Horsfield was told to stay away from the club for two weeks he was invited back to his assistant role as before, with no disciplinary action taken against either party.[40] As the club fell to seventh in the tale, Gannon made another loan signing by bringing Dominic Blizzard in from Bristol Rovers.[41] Results continued to go against the Vale though, as on 19 March they lost 3–0 at Accrington Stanley, and as a result dropped out of the play-off zone for the first time in the season.[42] Ugly post-match scenes at the Crown Ground saw Geohaghon confront fans who singled him out for abuse, whilst Gannon was ushered quietly out of the back door.[43] Roberts told the media "I don't think the manager likes me and, to be honest, I don't like him".[44] Rumours circulated that Gannon would soon be on his way out.[45] These rumours were proved accurate two days later, as Gannon's departure was confirmed by the club.[46] Loan signing Blizzard also left.[47] Mark Grew took over as caretaker-manager, though following a 2 April defeat to leaders Chesterfield he was forced to admit that automatic promotion was now out of reach.[48][49] Later in the month Grew released Kristian Cox,[50] before a home defeat to bottom of the table Stockport County on 23 April meant that winning their remaining three games no longer guaranteed them a play-off spot.[51] Their penultimate game of the season was a 7–2 mauling of Morecambe, which saw Louis Dodds and Justin Richards score the first hat-tricks at Vale Park since Martin Foyle hit three in 1994.[52] This was also the club's biggest home victory in more than fifty years.[52] The final game of the season saw a celebratory pitch invasion at Underhill, as Barnet secured their Football League season with a 1–0 victory over Vale.[53]

They finished in eleventh place with 65 points, one position and three points less than the previous campaign. Only Stevenage conceded fewer goals, though outside of the bottom two only Bradford City and Hereford United scored fewer goals. They finished three points short of the play-offs following a point deduction to Torquay United, and finished behind Crewe Alexandra on goal difference. Marc Richards was top-scorer for the third successive season, this time netting twenty goals in all competitions. Justin Richards finished with fourteen goals, and no other player managed to hit double figures.

At the end of the season Doug Loft and Adam Yates signed new two-year deals.[54] Gareth Owen had announced a move to rivals Crewe Alexandra, however when Micky Adams signed a three-year contract to return as manager, Owen reversed his decision and signed a two-year deal as player-coach at Vale Park.[55] Only full-back Kris Taylor and youth team graduate Matthew Bell were not offered new contracts by Adams.[56] Taylor moved on to Darlington and Bell signed with Mansfield Town – both Conference clubs.[57][58] Defender Sutton also made the switch to Mansfield.[59] However chief scout Ray Williams did not have his contract renewed, after 39 years of service to the club, after falling out with the board.[60]

Finances & ownership issues[edit]

On the financial side, in the pre-season investor Mike Newton announced that he was willing to invest £400,000 in the club and take the chair of the board.[61] Chairman Bill Bratt claimed to be unhappy with Newton's policy of negotiating in public (who had by then upped his offer to £500,000[62]),[63] and so Bratt remained as chairman. Newton claimed that his "efforts to become chairman and to invest in the club have been hampered and made almost impossible" by Bratt and his board,[64] and said that the reasons giving to reject his investment were "one long round of excuses".[65] Bratt was forced to deny claims by Newton that the club were heading for administration under his leadership.[66] In September 2010 Bratt gave up his role as chief executive, but remained as chairman,[67] denying that this decision was influenced by the recent Newton takeover bid.[68] By this time the club's debts were estimated at around £2m, a level described by Bratt as "manageable".[69] The nine-man board's share total was valued at £359,400.[70]

In December 2010 local businessman and Water World owner Mo Chaudry went public with his investment proposal for the club,[71] however Bratt said it was the first he had heard of the proposal, despite Chandry's legal advisor's claims they had spoken and that "it was made clear to me the club wasn't interested in selling to Mo Chaudry."[72] The board swiftly and unanimously rejected the £1.3 million proposal.[73] Following another anti-board protest from Vale supporters and the resignation of director Mike Thompstone, Bratt and his team decided to re-examine the Chaudry bid.[74][75][76] In January 2011, another group of prospective investors, this time a group of Texas businessmen, announced they had pulled out of talks with Bratt's board.[77] The group said: "the deal is completely dead because the directors don't want to sell the club... we believe they [the Vale] are run by the wrong people... [and] we didn't get anything apart from a cup of tea before watching a game."[77] Fans began a protest movement called "Black and Gold Until it's Sold" – inspired by Manchester United's anti-Glazer scarf protest – in which fans wore black and gold scarves to symbolise their opposition to Bratt and the board.[78]

By February, Chaudry had agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement, and face-to-face negotiations began.[79] Chaudry was keen to accelerate the negotiations, accusing Bratt of stalling.[80] Chaudry had the stadium revalued at £3.4m, some £2.3m less than stated in the board's accounts – Staffordshire University academic Ian Jackson commented that these were a part of the "skirmishes of negotiation".[81] Despite this Chaudry's 12 March takeover deadline passed without comment from the Vale board,[82] though another director, Paul Humphreys, resigned his position.[83] Chaudry then teamed up with another local businessmen, Mark Sims, to purchase the maximum allowed 24.9% of shares each (to give them a combined total of 49.8% control).[84] In addition to the 'Black and Gold' campaign, two further fan-based organisations, 'Starve Em Out' and 'North London Valiants', attempted to oust Bratt and his directors out of power at the club.[84] Simms and Chaudry withdrew their joint bid after the Vale directors refused to discuss the proposal,[85] calling the duo's proposal "not at all valid".[86] Further resignations took the Vale board down to just five members.[87]

Facing an EGM, Chaudry's cause was boosted when Broxap CEO Robert Lee announced that he would sell his £50,000 worth of shares to Chaudry, making the board's removal at the EGM more likely (however Broxap later reversed their decision on the day of the EGM).[88][89] However just ten days before the EGM Bratt announced a ten-year £1.6 million sponsorship deal with Ameriturf Global Sports.[90] A further twist came five days later, when Robbie Williams handed his 24.9% worth of EGM proxy votes over to Port Vale Supporters' Club.[91] Many believed this would ensure the end of Bratt's reign,[92] despite his warning that fans should "look at other clubs who have gone down this line and they have no longer got their ground and are paying vast sums in rent".[93] The result of the EGM was a vote of no confidence in the board; directors Peter Jackson and Stan Meigh were voted out,[94] however the controversial '24.9% rule' survived – to Chaudry's disappointment.[95] Also remaining were chairman Bill Bratt and directors Glenn Oliver and Mike Lloyd,[96] three of the original nine that started the season. Each facing an individual vote, they received 51.07%, 50.64%, and 50.21% of the vote respectively. The three survived as Broxap sold their shares to an unnamed director at the last minute, not to Chaudry as they had originally promised.[97] Speaking of the change of heart from Broxap, Chaudry stated that "the board have engaged in dirty tricks from day one and there have been more at the 11th hour."[98] Many fans expressed disappointment at the result,[99][100] though Chaudry again announced he "will not walk away".[101] The future remained unclear, with both Bratt and Chaudry taking gains and losses from the EGM.[102] The club's constitution required four directors for the board to be considered valid, and so the board welcomed new director Mark Sims, a Chaudry supporter, who was voted on to the board at the EGM after he was sponsored by Robbie Williams.[103] Sims stated his intention of convincing the three original directors of the merits of Chaudry's bid.[104] The board also invited supporters group North London Valiants to nominate a director.[105] The EGM disrupted manager Micky Adams' transfer plans as the club's constitution stipulated that at least four directors must be in place for financial transactions such as issuing new contracts to take place.[106] In a shock move Adams announced that he intended to take up a directorship at the club, purchasing £50,000 worth of shares with his own money (though former director Stan Meigh later said that it was he who provided the money[107]) he declared that "this is a purely footballing decision... I understand that the last few months have been difficult for everyone and am asking all of our supporters to put their differences aside, to support my candidacy for the Board and then to get behind the team in the coming season."[108] Supporters' groups opposed to Bill Bratt's chairmanship did not welcome the news.[109][110] At the end of the season, Stoke-on-Trent city council confirmed that the two-year repayment holiday for a £2.25 million loan taken out in 2005 had come to an end.[111]

Cup competitions[edit]

In the FA Cup, Vale nearly slipped up at Princes Park to Conference South Dartford, and were saved only by an 84th minute John McCombe header.[112] Vale made no mistake in the replay, dispatching the "Darts" with a 4–0 win.[113] They booked themselves a Third Round date at Turf Moor with Championship club Burnley with a 1–0 home win over Accrington Stanley.[114] The Burnley game was Gannon's first game in charge, and resulted in a 4–2 defeat.[115]

In the League Cup, Vale managed to defeat a Championship side by slaying high-flying Queens Park Rangers 3–1 at Loftus Road,[116] new signing Richards scoring twice.[117][118] Premier League opposition proved to be too much of a challenge however, as a strong Fulham side destroyed the Vale 6–0 at Craven CottageZoltán Gera and Bobby Zamora both bagging braces.[119]

In the League Trophy, both the Richards strikers struck down Rochdale with a 2–1 win. League One Carlisle United awaited in the Second Round at Brunton Park, and vanquished the "Valiants" on penalties following a 2–2 draw.[120]

Final league table[edit]

Pos
Team
Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Promotion or relegation
1 Chesterfield 46 24 14 8 85 51 +34 86 Promotion to Football League One
2 Bury 46 23 12 11 82 50 +32 81
3 Wycombe Wanderers 46 22 14 10 69 50 +19 80
4 Shrewsbury Town 46 22 13 11 72 49 +23 79 Qualification to the League Two Playoffs
5 Accrington Stanley 46 18 19 9 73 55 +18 73
6 Stevenage 46 18 15 13 62 45 +17 69
7 Torquay United 46 17 18 11 74 53 +21 068*
8 Gillingham 46 17 17 12 67 57 +10 68
9 Rotherham United 46 17 15 14 75 60 +15 66
10 Crewe Alexandra 46 18 11 17 87 65 +22 65
11 Port Vale 46 17 14 15 54 49 +5 65
12 Oxford United 46 17 12 17 58 60 −2 63
13 Southend United 46 16 13 17 62 56 +6 61
14 Aldershot Town 46 14 19 13 54 54 0 61
15 Macclesfield Town 46 14 13 19 59 73 −14 55
16 Northampton Town 46 11 19 16 63 71 −8 52
17 Cheltenham Town 46 13 13 20 56 77 −21 52
18 Bradford City 46 15 7 24 43 68 −25 52
19 Morecambe 46 13 12 21 54 73 −19 51
20 Burton Albion 46 12 15 19 56 70 −14 51
21 Hereford United 46 12 17 17 50 66 −16 050
23 Barnet 46 12 12 22 58 77 −19 48
22 Lincoln City 46 13 8 25 45 81 −36 47 Relegation to the 2011–12 Conference National
24 Stockport County 46 9 14 23 48 96 −48 41

Updated to games played on 7 May 2011.
Source: The Football League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished:
(Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (RQ) = Qualified to the relegation tournament indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament.
*Torquay United deducted 1 point for fielding an unregistered player.[121]
Hereford United deducted 3 points for fielding an unregistered player.[121]

Results[edit]

Port Vale's score comes first

Legend[edit]

Win Draw Loss
Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
Ground A H A H A H A H H A A H A H A A H A A A A H A H H A H A H H H A H A H A H H H A H A H A H A
Result W D W L W W W W W L D D D W D D W W L L L W L L D L W D D W L W W D L L D D W L D D L L W L
Position 7 6 4 5 4 3 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 2 2 4 4 4 5 5 6 5 5 7 5 6 6 6 6 7 8 9 9 7 9 9 9 10 10 9 11

Sourced from Statto.[122]

Football League Two[edit]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
7 August 2010 Bury A 1–0 4,681 Collins
14 August 2010 Chesterfield H 1–1 6,444 M.Richards
21 August 2010 Southend United A 3–1 4,946 J.Richards, Dodds, M.Richards
28 August 2010 Torquay United H 1–2 5,750 Griffith
4 September 2010 Bradford City A 2–0 10,834 M.Richards, J.Richards
11 September 2010 Aldershot Town H 1–0 5,360 Roberts
18 September 2010 Macclesfield Town A 3–0 3,915 M.Richards (2), Rigg
25 September 2010 Accrington Stanley H 2–0 5,777 M.Richards, Dodds
28 September 2010 Shrewsbury Town H 1–0 8,443 Roberts
2 October 2010 Oxford United A 1–2 7,947 Owen
9 October 2010 Hereford United A 1–1 2,651 M.Richards (pen)
16 October 2010 Gillingham H 0–0 6,420
23 October 2010 Cheltenham Town A 0–0 3,167
30 October 2010 Crewe Alexandra H 2–1 8,607 Dodds, M.Richards
2 November 2010 Burton Albion A 0–0 4,027
13 November 2010 Northampton Town A 0–0 4,612
20 November 2010 Wycombe Wanderers H 2–1 5,587 McCombe (2)
23 November 2010 Stockport County A 5–0 4,571 M.Richards (2), J.Richards, Rigg, Speight
11 December 2010 Morecambe A 0–1 2,326
28 December 2010 Gillingham A 0–3 5,364
1 January 2011 Rotherham United A 0–5 3,994
3 January 2011 Burton Albion H 2–1 5,681 McCombe, J.Richards
15 January 2011 Crewe Alexandra A 1–2 7,183 J.Richards
22 January 2011 Cheltenham Town H 0–1 5,163
25 January 2011 Barnet H 0–0 4,112
29 January 2011 Lincoln City A 0–1 3,370
1 February 2011 Rotherham United H 1–0 4,515 O'Shea
5 February 2011 Wycombe Wanderers A 1–1 4,173 Own goal
12 February 2011 Northampton Town H 1–1 5,321 J.Richards (pen)
18 February 2011 Bradford City H 2–1 4,775 Pope (2)
22 February 2011 Stevenage H 1–3 4,588 Morsy
26 February 2011 Aldershot Town A 2–1 2,506 M.Richards, McCombe
5 March 2011 Macclesfield Town H 2–1 5,459 Collins, Dodds
8 March 2011 Shrewsbury Town A 2–2 6,402 M.Richards (2)
12 March 2011 Oxford United H 1–2 5,661 M.Richards
19 March 2011 Accrington Stanley A 0–3 2,413
22 March 2011 Hereford United H 1–1 4,869 Pope
26 March 2011 Bury H 0–0 5,510
29 March 2011 Lincoln City H 2–1 4,636 M.Richards, Loft
2 April 2011 Chesterfield A 0–2 8,606
9 April 2011 Southend United H 1–1 5,108 R.Taylor
16 April 2011 Torquay United A 0–0 3,726
23 April 2011 Stockport County H 1–2 5,334 Rigg
25 April 2011 Stevenage A 0–1 3,146
30 April 2011 Morecambe H 7–2 4,134 J.Richards (3), Dodds (3), M.Richards
7 May 2011 Barnet A 0–1 4,478

FA Cup[edit]

Main article: 2010–11 FA Cup
Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 6 November 2010 Dartford A 1–1 3,679 McCombe
R1 Replay 16 November 2010 Dartford H 4–0 3,590 M.Richards (2 [1 pen]), Rigg, J.Richards
R2 26 November 2010 Accrington Stanley H 1–0 4,016 J.Richards
R3 8 January 2011 Burnley A 2–4 9,442 R.Taylor (2)

League Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 10 August 2010 Queens Park Rangers A 3–1 6,619 J.Richards (2), Rigg
R2 25 August 2010 Fulham A 0–6 9,031

League Trophy[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 31 August 2010 Rochdale H 2–1 2,442 M.Richards, J.Richards
R2 5 October 2010 Carlisle United A (3)2–2(4) 2,273 Own goal, M.Richards

Player statistics[edit]

Awards[edit]

End of Season Awards Winner[123]
Player of the Year John McCombe
Away Travel Player of the Year John McCombe
Mr Shirt Off The Back Louis Dodds
Players' Player of the Year John McCombe
Young Player of the Year Sam Morsy
Youth Player of the Year Charlie Raglan
Chairman's Player of the Year Gareth Owen
Goal of the Season Marc Richards (vs Accrington Stanley, 25 September 2010)

Transfers[edit]

Players transferred in
Date Pos. Name From Fee Ref.
27 May 2010 FW Sean Rigg Bristol Rovers Free [3]
29 May 2010 GK Stuart Tomlinson Barrow Free (Bosman) [4]
11 June 2010 FW Justin Richards Cheltenham Town Free (Bosman) [5]
20 July 2010 DF Ritchie Sutton Nantwich Town Free [124]
27 July 2010 MF Gary Roberts Rotherham United Free [7]
Players loaned in
Date from Pos. Name From Date to Ref.
13 August 2010 MF Abdulai Bell-Baggie Reading 13 September 2010 [10]
16 September 2010 FW Jemal Johnson Milton Keynes Dons 16 October 2010 [11]
29 October 2010 FW Jake Speight Bradford City 4 January 2011 [125][126]
20 January 2011 FW Jay O'Shea Birmingham City 23 February 2011 [29]
21 January 2011 MF Romaine Sawyers West Bromwich Albion 23 February 2011 [28]
21 January 2011 MF Kayleden Brown West Bromwich Albion 23 February 2011 [28]
24 January 2011 DF Exodus Geohaghon Peterborough United End of season [30]
28 January 2011 FW Tom Pope Rotherham United 7 April 2011 [31][127][128][129]
18 March 2011 MF Dominic Blizzard Bristol Rovers End of season [41]
Players loaned out
Date from Pos. Name To Date to Ref.
11 October 2010 FW Anthony Malbon Newcastle Town 19 November 2010 [130][131][132]
Players released
Date Pos. Name Subsequent club Join date Ref.
12 May 2010 FW Geoff Horsfield Became coach [133]
20 May 2010 GK Joe Anyon Lincoln City 1 July 2010 [133][134]
21 June 2010 GK Daniel Lloyd-Weston Cheltenham Town 1 July 2010 [133][135]
1 July 2010 DF Luke Prosser Southend United 31 July 2010 [133][136]
1 July 2010 FW Danny Glover Worcester City 6 August 2010 [133][137]
1 July 2010 MF Ross Davidson Stafford Rangers ? [133]
19 November 2010 FW Anthony Malbon Leek Town 20 November 2010 [132][138]
19 January 2011 MF Tommy Fraser Barnet 20 January 2011 [139][140]

References[edit]

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