Port Vale: Big team effort helped to keep the dream alive
IT WAS the completion of a project that refused to die at the club that refuses to die.
On Saturday the slate-grey skies cleared and the sun shone on Port Vale's golden one.
Around 1,000 people were there to see his triumphant return to Vale Park.
Many in the crowd never saw Roy Sproson pull on a white shirt. Indeed, quite a few weren't even old enough to remember his nephew Phil's 495 appearances for the club. Hopefully the unveiling of the Sproson Statue left them in no doubt about the importance of this remarkable family to the Port Vale story.
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It took 11 years to realise the vision of a permanent memorial to the Burslem club's greatest servant.
Along the way the project has ground to a halt through lack of funding, red tape, the intransigence of previous directors and personnel changes among the fund-raising committee.
But there has always been someone there to pick up the baton and keep the dream alive.
Even three weeks ago there were nay-sayers. When the project's key driver Pete Williams fell ill I rang the monumental masons to be told there was no way the statue would be completed by November 17.
There were no words for the plinth, the granite hadn't been cut, the event at the club hadn't been organised and none of the VIPs had received a formal invite.
But Port Vale fans did what Port Vale fans do. They got their hands dirty, mucked in and made Saturday a wonderful celebration.
Afterwards Phil Sproson told me the family thought it had been a perfect day and were thrilled that so many people had turned out to pay their respects.
It was never in doubt.