Tom Pope

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Tom Pope
Tom Pope.png
Pope warming up for Port Vale before the match against Northampton Town on 20 April 2013.
Personal information
Full name Thomas John Pope[1]
Date of birth (1985-08-27) 27 August 1985 (age 29)[2]
Place of birth Stoke-on-Trent, England[3]
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2]
Playing position Centre forward
Club information
Current team
Port Vale
Number 11
Youth career
Crewe Alexandra
Hanley Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Biddulph Victoria 14 (17)
2005–2009 Crewe Alexandra 56 (17)
2005 Lancaster City (loan) 5 (1)
2006 Stafford Rangers (loan) 10 (5)
2006 Barrow (loan) 21 (6)
2009–2011 Rotherham United 53 (4)
2011 Port Vale (loan) 13 (3)
2011– Port Vale 138 (51)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 00:00, 17 September 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Thomas John "Tom" Pope (born 27 August 1985) is an English footballer who plays as a centre forward for League One side Port Vale.

A Crewe Alexandra Academy graduate, he turned professional with the club in 2005 after impressing at non-league side Biddulph Victoria in 2004–05. He was loaned out to Conference North sides Lancaster City and Stafford Rangers in 2005–06, before he spent 2006–07 on loan at Barrow, also of the Conference North. He established himself in the Crewe first team picture in 2007–08, before becoming the club's top scorer in 2008–09 with ten League One goals. He became Rotherham United's joint-record signing when he made a £150,000 move to the Yorkshire club in June 2009. He scored five goals in the 2009–10 campaign, before he was loaned out to Port Vale in January 2011. The loan was made permanent in time for the start of the 2011–12 season. He scored 33 goals and was voted League Two Player of the Year as he helped the club to secure promotion out of League Two in 2012–13. He was voted Port Vale's Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014.

Playing career[edit]

Crewe Alexandra[edit]

Pope was a part of Crewe Alexandra's highly acclaimed youth set-up, but was not offered a professional contract with the club.[4] He instead was forced to make his name in the Midland Football Alliance with Biddulph Victoria after coming through the Hanley Town under-18 side to find first team football.[5] During this time the teenager found work as a window-fitter.[6] He scored fifteen goals in his first season with Biddulph, and added a further twelve to his tally before returning to Crewe as a professional in October 2005 — manager Dario Gradi now convinced of Pope's potential.[7] Pope chose to head to Crewe after two unsuccessful trials with boyhood club Port Vale.[8]

Pope spent much of the 2005–06 season in the Conference North, playing on loan for Lancaster City and then Stafford Rangers.[9] He returned to the division in 2006–07 with Barrow, again on loan.[10] In all he scored 12 goals in 36 games in the division. On 10 March 2007, Pope made his debut for Crewe in a 1–0 defeat to Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium, replacing Gary Roberts on 86 minutes.[11] He made three further appearances from the bench during the rest of the season, all three games ending in defeat.

He scored his first goal for the club against Bristol Rovers on 18 August 2007, in a 1–1 draw at the Memorial Stadium.[12] He established himself in the Alex first team in 2007–08, and his seven goals put him as the club's second highest scorer after Nicky Maynard.

He signed a two-year contract extension in November 2008, keeping him at the "Alex" until summer 2011.[6] He believed the players could win round disgruntled Crewe fans,[13] and blamed the players for Steve Holland's sacking.[14] He bettered his goal tally in 2008–09, and became the club's top scorer with ten goals, though this was not enough to prevent Crewe from suffering relegation out of League One. His ten league goals reflected good value for his seventeen league starts, and additional nine appearances from the bench. This achievement came despite criticism from assistant manager Neil Baker that Pope lacked consistency on the pitch and professionalism off the pitch.[15] In all he scored 17 goals in 64 games for the Crewe, and he remained thankful to the club, the fans and former manager Dario Gradi for rescuing his career, despite his falling out with then-manager Guðjón Þórðarson.[16] He later admitted that his decision to leave the club was a mistake.[17]

"No one at Crewe ever told me if I was doing a decent job. They told me the things I did wrong, but they never gave me any chance to build my confidence or give me any encouragement. It started to get me down towards the end, it was frustrating but that's football. I wanted a new challenge and I've got one at Rotherham."

—Pope was sometimes frustrated during his time at Gresty Road.[18]

Rotherham United[edit]

In June 2009, Pope joined League Two club Rotherham United for a joint-club-record fee of £150,000,[19] signing a three-year contract with the club.[4] Impressing in the pre-season games, his first two goals for Rotherham came in a League Cup Second Round tie with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on 26 August.[20] However manager Mark Robins departed in September,[21] and in his absence Pope went on to score only three league goals in 35 appearances in 2009–10, and did not feature in the "Millers"' defeat in the play-off Final due to a metatarsal injury.

Port Vale[edit]

Pope did not hit scoring form at the start of the 2010–11 season, and numerous other League Two clubs expressed an interest in acquiring the player permanently, as Ronnie Moore was willing to sell Pope to the highest bidder.[22] Jim Gannon found top-scorer Marc Richards out injured,[23] and so Pope finally achieved his dream of playing for the club he supported all his life,[24] when he joined Port Vale on a month long loan starting on 28 January 2011.[25] He missed a penalty in his second appearance for the club,[26] but in the next game he made his first full start and won a penalty – which Justin Richards converted.[27] He scored both of the club's goals in his fourth game, a 2–1 win over Bradford City at Vale Park, which was broadcast live on Sky Sports.[28] This final man-of-the-match winning performance was enough to convince Gannon to 'fight tooth and nail' to keep Pope at the club beyond the initial month long spell.[29] Indeed his loan spell was extended into a second month.[30] His third goal for the club came on 22 March, and was enough to rescue a point at home to Hereford United for caretaker-manager Mark Grew.[31] Following this his loan deal was extended into a third month.[32] However the loan spell was terminated three weeks early following a change of circumstances – parent club Rotherham had dropped out of the play-offs and manager Ronnie Moore had departed.[33] Pope remained hopeful of a permanent switch in the summer,[34] and a move away from the Don Valley Stadium seemed inevitable after new manager Andy Scott omitted him from United's pre-season tour of Portugal.[35] He got his wish in August, as he switched to Port Vale on a free transfer.[36] He signed a one-year deal with the "Valiants" despite more lucrative two-year offers from Morecambe and Mansfield Town, as well as interest from Macclesfield Town.[35]

He went straight into manager Micky Adams' first team for the start of the 2011–12 season. He scored twice in his opening ten games, including a headed winning goal against Bradford City which took the Vale into the automatic promotion places in mid-September; however after the match he was still forced to respond to criticism levelled at him from a minority of fans.[37] Adams added that "Tom shouldn't listen to the supporters – with the greatest of respect to them".[38] Pope added to his tally with the equalizing goal in a 1–1 draw with Vale's local rivals, and his former club, Crewe Alexandra on 24 September.[16] Though he only hit four goals in his first 25 games of the season, he picked up a hat-trick of assists in the 4–0 win over Aldershot Town on 17 December.[39] He ended a run of fifteen games without a goal by coming off the bench to net a late winner at home to Plymouth Argyle on 28 January;[40] the strike was his first goal of the season not to come from his head.[41] However the following month he picked up a groin injury and was forced to undergo 'hernia-related' surgery.[42] He agreed to sign a new one-year deal with the club in June 2012,[43] though assistant manager Mark Grew warned him to improve his scoring tally.[44] Pope repeatedly stated to the local press that he was determined to improve his goals tally.[45]

"I've made no secret of my desire to stay and I'm really pleased we have come to an agreement on a new deal. I know people have been talking about my goal tally this season but I think that's down to the style we play and how all of the players work for each other. The gaffer has put a lot of faith in me and I'm really pleased I have been able to repay that faith by committing to the club for a further term."

— Speaking after signing a new two and a half year contract, Pope remained humble despite his impressive goal tally.[46]

Pope had a quietly consistent start to the 2012–13 season, before hitting four goals in a 6–2 home win over former club Rotherham on 8 September.[47] He was quoted as saying that this was the best game of his career, as he proved a point to his detractors at former club Rotherham.[48] A brace in a 2–0 win over Exeter City at St James Park on 6 October took him to 11 goals in 13 games; this meant that, with the season only a quarter of the way in, the 27 year old had reached his best ever goal tally.[49] It also made him the fastest Vale player to reach double figures since Tom Nolan hit ten goals within the first eleven games of the 1933–34 season.[49] Pope was quick to credit wing duo Jennison Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent for supplying him with the chances he needed to find the net so frequently.[50] His seven goals in seven games saw him named as League Two Player of the Month for September 2012.[51] Fans at Vale Park began to chant "Feed the Pope and he will score" throughout matches,[52] and he picked up the nickname of the "Sneyd Green Sniper / Assassin", in reference to his hometown.[53] A hat-trick in a 4–0 win over Bristol Rovers on 20 November meant that he became the quickest player to reach 20 goals (from the start of the season) in the club's Football League history.[54] In February, he signed a new contract to keep him at the club until summer 2015.[55] The next month he was named as League Two's Player of the Year after leading the division's scoring charts by five goals despite hitting an 11 game goal drought.[56][57] After winning the award he claimed his third hat-trick of the season on 29 March, as Vale beat promotion rivals Cheltenham Town 3–2.[58] Vale secured promotion with a third-place finish at the end of the season, and Pope finished on 33 goals in 51 games. He was voted onto the PFA Team of the Year, alongside teammate Jennison Myrie-Williams.[59] He was further voted as Port Vale's Player of the Year.[60]

Pope was dropped from the starting line-up on 22 October 2013, ending a run of 66 consecutive league starts for the club, but marked his appearance from the bench in the following game with a goal to take Vale to within two points of the League One play-offs by the end of the month.[61] He continued to hold down a first team starting place, and on 6 December he scored his fiftieth goal for Port Vale during a 4–1 FA Cup win over Salisbury City.[62] He ended the 2013–14 campaign as the club's top-scorer with 16 goals in 51 appearances, helping the club to secure a ninth place finish in League One, and became the first player in the club's history to win the club's Player of the Year award in successive years.[63]

He opened the 2014–15 campaign by scoring in each of the first four games of the season.[64]

Style of play[edit]

A 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) centre forward, he has a natural advantage in the air.[2] A target man, he is able to hold the ball up and bring other players into the game.[65] As he said in an interview in September 2011, "I do the nitty-gritty and the dirty stuff."[37]

Personal life[edit]

Pope, and two accomplices,[66] were charged with affray for an incident in Hanley on 8 February 2009,[67] and Pope received 200 hours community service and a six month suspended jail sentence. Pope's defence team claimed that he was provoked when the victims verbally abused and assaulted his girlfriend.[68]

A native of Stoke-on-Trent, Pope grew up as a Port Vale supporter.[69] He is an accomplished amateur golfer, having reached the quarter-finals of Stoke-on-Trent's Sentinel Shield competition.[70] He wears contact lenses.[71] He is a darts fan.[17]

Pope and teammate Adam Yates began the 2011–12 season as joint-managers of local amateur Sunday League side Sneyd,[72] fitting their management duties around their professional careers at Vale Park. The pair took the club to the Potteries and District Premier Division title and the final of the Sentinel Sunday Cup in 2012–13.[73][74]

Statistics[edit]

Pope pictured warming up for his hometown club (April 2013).
Season Club Division League FA Cup League Cup Other[75] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2005–06 Crewe Alexandra Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2005–06 Lancaster City (loan) Conference North 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
2005–06 Stafford Rangers (loan) 10 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 5
2006–07[76] Crewe Alexandra League One 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
2006–07 Barrow (loan) Conference North 21 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 21 6
2007–08[77] Crewe Alexandra League One 26 7 0 0 1 0 1 0 28 7
2008–09[78] 26 10 2 0 3 0 1 0 32 10
Total 56 17 2 0 4 0 2 0 64 17
2009–10[79] Rotherham United League Two 35 3 2 0 2 2 0 0 39 5
2010–11[80] 18 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 20 1
Total 53 4 2 0 2 2 2 0 59 6
2010–11[80] Port Vale (loan) League Two 13 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 3
2011–12[81] Port Vale 41 5 2 0 1 0 1 0 45 5
2012–13[82] 46 31 2 1 1 0 2 1 51 33
2013–14[83] League One 43 12 5 2 1 0 2 2 51 16
2014–15[84] 8 3 0 0 2 2 0 0 10 5
Total 151 54 9 3 5 2 5 3 170 62
Career total 296 87 13 3 11 4 9 3 329 97
Notes

Honours[edit]

Individual

Port Vale

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Player Registrations". thefa.com. March 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Name: Tom Pope". port-vale.co.uk. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Tom Pope career stats at Soccerbase
  4. ^ a b "Pope Agrees Rotherham Switch". crewealex.net. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Munday, Anthony (19 September 2013). "Old boy Pope to shine light on Hanley Town's latest achievement". The Sentinel. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Striker Pope signs new Crewe deal". BBC Sport. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Crewe sign teenage striker Pope". BBC Sport. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Split loyalties for Crewe striker". BBC Sport. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Pope seals Stafford Rangers loan". BBC Sport. 29 March 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Pope extends loan stint at Barrow". BBC Sport. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Gillingham 1–0 Crewe". BBC Sport. 9 March 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "Bristol Rovers 1–1 Crewe". BBC Sport. 18 August 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "We will silence boo boys – Pope". BBC Sport. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Players must take blame says Pope". BBC Sport. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "Striker Pope challenged by Baker". BBC Sport. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Port Vale scorer Tom Pope 'owed respect to Crewe fans'". BBC Sport. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Tom Pope Interview on 6 Towns Radio on YouTube
  18. ^ "Pope frustrated by time at Crewe". BBC Sport. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  19. ^ "Crewe striker Pope joins Millers". BBC News. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "West Brom 4 – 3 Rotherham". BBC Sport. 26 August 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  21. ^ "Port Vale: Pope feels right at home at Vale Park". The Sentinel. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "Rotherham manager Ronnie Moore considers Tom Pope exit". BBC Sport. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  23. ^ "Port Vale want Rotherham striker Tom Pope on loan". BBC Sport. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  24. ^ "Port Vale sign Rotherham striker Tom Pope on loan". BBC Sport. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  25. ^ Shaw, Steve (28 January 2011). "Port Vale: Tom Pope joins Valiants in loan deal". The Sentinel. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  26. ^ "Port Vale should aim for Championship, says Tom Pope". BBC Sport. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  27. ^ "Port Vale manager Jim Gannon praises loanee Tom Pope". BBC Sport. 13 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  28. ^ "Port Vale 2 – 1 Bradford". BBC Sport. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  29. ^ Shaw, Steve (19 February 2011). "Port Vale: Gannon will fight to keep Pope". The Sentinel. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  30. ^ "Port Vale on-loan striker Tom Pope extends stay". BBC Sport. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  31. ^ "Port Vale 1 – 1 Hereford". BBC Sport. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  32. ^ "Rotherham United's Tom Pope extends Port Vale loan deal". BBC Sport. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  33. ^ "Mark Grew admits Tom Pope loss is a blow for Port Vale". BBC Sport. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  34. ^ Shaw, Steve (7 April 2011). "Port Vale: Major blow for Vale as Millers recall striker Pope". The Sentinel. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "Port Vale: Tom Pope shuns offers to sign with Valiants". The Sentinel. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  36. ^ "Port Vale sign ex-Rotherham striker Tom Pope". BBC Sport. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  37. ^ a b "Tom Pope unhappy with criticism from Port Vale fans". BBC Sport. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  38. ^ "Port Vale: Pope doing just fine as attack leader, says Adams". The Sentinel. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  39. ^ "Port Vale: Match statistics". The Sentinel. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  40. ^ "Port Vale 1 – 0 Plymouth". BBC Sport. 28 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  41. ^ "Port Vale: Pope's divine strike is heaven sent". The Sentinel. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  42. ^ "Port Vale: Double setback rocks Valiants". The Sentinel. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  43. ^ Smith, Peter (2 June 2012). "McCombe and Pope say yes to offer of new deals". The Sentinel. 
  44. ^ "Scoring more must be Tom Pope's goal for next season, says Mark Grew". The Sentinel. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  45. ^ "Tom Pope looks to get fans onside with goals". The Sentinel. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  46. ^ "Tom Pope: Port Vale striker commits to club until 2015". BBC Sport. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  47. ^ "Port Vale 6 – 2 Rotherham". BBC Sport. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  48. ^ "Port Vale striker Tom Pope hails Rotherham game as best of career". BBC Sport. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  49. ^ a b Pearson, Guy (8 October 2012). "Striker Pope creates new club record with Exeter double". The Sentinel. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  50. ^ "Port Vale striker Tom Pope pleased with his supply line". BBC Sport. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  51. ^ "npower League 2 Manager and Player of the Month". port-vale.co.uk. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  52. ^ "Match analysis: Port Vale 4, Wycombe 1". The Sentinel. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  53. ^ Earle, Robbie (26 October 2012). "Pope is having a great season, but these Port Vale strikers are top of my hit parade". The Sentinel. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  54. ^ "Tom Pope races to new club record against Bristol Rovers". The Sentinel. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  55. ^ "Tom Pope signs new contract as Valiants move four points clear". The Sentinel. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  56. ^ "Football League Awards: Murray, Ince and Vydra up for top prize". BBC Sport. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  57. ^ "Pope crowned player of season". The Sentinel. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  58. ^ "Port Vale 3 – 2 Chesterfield". BBC Sport. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  59. ^ Smith, Peter (29 April 2013). "Tom Pope and Jennison Myrie-Williams named in League Two team of the year". The Sentinel. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  60. ^ "Tom Pope wins player-of-the-year award". The Sentinel. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  61. ^ "Micky Adams delighted by Tom Pope response". BBC Sport. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  62. ^ "Port Vale 4 - 1 Salisbury". BBC Sport. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  63. ^ Baggaley, Mike (5 May 2014). "Tom Pope named Port Vale player of the year". The Sentinel. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  64. ^ "Michael O'Connor hails Tom Pope as the Port Vale goal hero goes for club record". The Sentinel. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  65. ^ "There's more than just goals to my game: Pope". The Sentinel. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  66. ^ "Striker faces affray charge". The Sentinel. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  67. ^ "Crewe Alex striker Tom Pope accused of affray". The Sentinel. 21 March 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  68. ^ "Brawling striker is caught on camera (CCTV)". The Sentinel. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  69. ^ "Port Vale: Richards backs fellow strikers to hit target". The Sentinel. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  70. ^ "Port Vale: Adams insists Valiants will be ready for Barnett challenge". The Sentinel. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  71. ^ Owen, Gareth (31 December 2011). "Gareth Owen: Resolute Valiants reveals hopes for New Year". The Sentinel. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  72. ^ "Sunday football: Tough start for Vale duo". The Sentinel. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  73. ^ "Dorryl Proffitt nets winner for Baddeley Green against Sneyd in Sentinel Cup final". The Sentinel. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  74. ^ "Sneyd lose at Caverswall, but still claim Premier title". The Sentinel. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  75. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Football League Trophy.
  76. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  77. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  78. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  79. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  80. ^ a b "Games played by Tom Pope in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  81. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  82. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  83. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  84. ^ "Games played by Tom Pope in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 

External links[edit]