Martin Tideswell: Optimism rising this could be our year
TALKING to Vale fans this week there's confidence and hope in abundance that this season we will finally win promotion.
This confidence is based on two things: Firstly, the majority of performances by a terrific set of lads, put together on a shoe-string by Micky Adams and his staff, which have put us top of the league and, secondly, the addition of four vastly experienced players for the run-in.
Supporters know full well that our destiny is in our own hands.
Since Norman Smurthwaite and Paul Wildes took over the club there's been good news from a club that used to be the dictionary definition of calamitous.
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Off the field Smurthwaite, as our chief executive is affectionately known, has been doing all the unglamorous but rather important stuff like sorting the infamous toilets in the Railway Paddock and working hard to bring in new sponsorship.
It's also really important that someone does the 'people stuff' and gets out and about meeting local people and Vale supporters and he's certainly doing that.
Paul Wildes, meanwhile, is the 'face' of the club. He is the chairman and figurehead – saying all the right things to the media and even creating a profile on social network Twitter.
Together, Norman and Paul are slowly starting to turn the ship around through a combination of sensible stewardship and innovative commercial and marketing initiatives.
The one nagging concern I do have is the fact that leading scorer Tom Pope isn't, as we were led to believe three months ago, contracted to the club until the end of next season.
We all know he loves playing for the club he supports and he has indicated he wants to stay in Burslem.
I can only hope that the gaffer can persuade him to pledge his future to the Vale and that he gets the contract his efforts deserve.
Some fans argue that Pope has 'only had one good season'. This isn't true.
He worked his socks off last season too, for scant reward in a team that was far less creative and where he had to play second fiddle to Marc Richards.
Now he's sharp, hungry and a brilliant leader of the line.
I sincerely hope we don't lose him.