Port Vale: Supporters praised for helping to save Valiants
PETE Williams stepped down as chairman of Port Vale Supporters' Club last night insisting that fans had saved the club from oblivion.
The 62-year-old from Clayton led supporters' efforts to help the stricken club throughout its nine months in administration last year.
And speaking during the supporters' club annual meeting, Williams declared: "We did lots of fund-raising and paid off pressing debts such as those for the club's coach travel, provided support to pay for players' lunches and even paid for grass seed and top dressing for the pitch.
"We also helped get the ground ready when there were concerns it wouldn't be for the new season.
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"So the supporters' club saved Port Vale, and we did it because we love the club. I'm extremely proud and humble."
Williams became chairman of the supporters' club in October 2011 when it was a disparate group boasting no more than 200 members.
But an unpopular board, the shares controversy involving former chairman Peter Miller and chief executive Perry Deakin, and then the spectre of Vale sliding into administration for the second time helped unite fans.
Membership grew to more than 1,600 as the club had an increasing say in the future of Port Vale.
It also played a key role in the fruition of long-term projects such as the erection of a statue to club legend Roy Sproson at Vale Park.
Williams added: "We have achieved a great deal over the last 18 months by working together as one group.
"We've overseen the unveiling of the Sproson statue, we've seen our membership grow to more than 1,600 and our team is top of the league.
"Who would have thought any of that was possible less than 12 months ago?
"We've also raised more than £70,000 since 2009, and last year alone we paid nearly £41,000 into our account."
Much of that money has been handed over to Vale or spent on the Sproson statue, but Williams said there was still £6,331 left in club coffers.
"We're handing over to a new committee with the supporters club in good health," he added.
"We've helped to steer the football club through rocky waters, and now, with new owners, we can look forward to the future with optimism."
Williams was replaced as chairman by Ally Simcock.
The 35-year-old mum of two from Longton was voted in ahead of Vale Community Officer Jim Cooper, who becomes vice-chairman.
Simcock, a teacher at Stoke-on-Trent College, said: "I'm looking forward to the challenge."
One of Simcock's first jobs will be to find a secretary and treasurer, as none of the 50 or so fans at Tommy Cheadle's pub last night volunteered for the now-vacant roles.