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Hello all- i'm sure you lot are looking forward to the new season with anticipation.  I know we are after a very positve pre season.  We are pretty confident that we can threaten the top 6 after last years injury-ravaged disaster of a campaign.  Congratulations on your promotion and i hope you have a good season (apart from Saturday of course  

I have taken the liberty (mainly because i was VERY bored) of writing a brief guide about our team. (the numbers in the brackets are the player's squad number- so you know who you are watching)


Mark Goodlad (1)- The most likely starter in goal, Mark was signed from Nottingham Forest in 2000.  After winning player of the season a few years back, his career was stalled by a long-standing finger injury, but it now seems as if he is fully fit and has been impressive in pre-season.

Jonny Brain (24)- Brain was signed from Newcastle United as cover when Goodlad picked up his injury, but soon established himself as first choice.  An excellent shot stopper but perhaps not as reliable as Goodlad on crosses but has improved massively in the last 18 months.


George Pilkington (2) - A fantastic defender signed from Everton in 2003, George can play anywhere across the back four but his best position is centre back.  A player who has genuine quality who i am tipping to go on to greater things.  

Michael Walsh (5) - Our longest serving player, having been signed by the legendary John Rudge in 1998, Walshy has shown continual quality at centre back but has struggled with injuries for a few seasons now.  He may be doubtful for Saturday's game!

Sam Collins (6) - Club captain and strong centre half, Collins was signed from Bury in 2001 and won player of the year in his first season.  His popularity has diminished somewhat over the last 12 months after some indifferent displays and many fans would prefer to see a Walsh-Pilkington centre half pairing.

George Abbey (15) - One of the finds of last season.  Abbey was amazingly released by our friend Brian Horton at Macc, but we decided to offer him a 1 month deal.  The Nigerian international impressed with his pace and skill at right back/right midfield and earned a contract to the end of the season.  Hugely impressive performances last season saw interest from Chapionship clubs but we managed to hold on to him.  He should do a nice job of keeping your new left winger quiet i feel!  

Micky Bell (20) - Signed from Bristol City in the Summer and has looked very impressive in pre-season.  Bell spent 8 years at City and despite being 33, has signed a 2 year contract for Vale!

Craig James (3) - 2nd choice left back.  The general concensus is that he is $%&*e.  I wouldn't disagree.

Steve Rowland (16) - Welsh U21 international and a product of the Vale youth system who can play centre back, right back or in midfield.  A player who may not be spectacular but never lets anyone down when called upon.


Tony Dinning (12) - The former Wolves and Wigan midfielder was signed from Bristol City on loan in March this year and impressed greatly with some dynamic midfield performances.  Took a 50% wage cut to sign permanently for us in the summer and has been brilliant in pre-season.  Could well provide the quality in midfield we lacked last season.  Still only 29 years old.

Danny Sonner (4) - Like Dinning, former Sheffiled Wednesday and Birmingham City player Sonner was signed on loan last season and impressed so was snapped up in the summer on a permanent deal.  At 33 he is getting on in years but is an excellent passer and very experienced- something that was lacking last season.

Chris Birchall (17) - Very fast right winger who came through our youth system a few years back but only really cemented a regular starting place last season.  His exciting play on the right wing earned him international honours for Trinidad and Tobago in the summer (despite being born in Stafford- don;t ask!).  Interestingly he became the first white player ever to score a goal for T&T!

Jeff Smith (11) - Signed from Bolton last summer, Jeff is very much the fair weather player.  Brilliant on his day but his day doesn;t happen often enough which makes him very frustrating.  Will probably play on the left wing on Saturday if he is fit- but he has been struggling with an injury.

Mark Innes (18) - Will play on the left if Jeff doesn;t make it.  After being released by Chesterfield in April, Vale offered him a short term deal to give him the chance to play for a contract.  He impressed with his trickiness yet workmanlike attitude in his 3 starts so was given a contract in the summer.  Has looked impressive in pre-season.

Micky Cummins (8) - Has been a virtual ever-present since he was signed from Middlesbrough in 2000.  Hard working, tough in the tackle and strong in the air.  Faces increased competition for places this season with the arrivals of Dinning and Sonner but may be played on  the right or left.  To be honest- no-one knows how he will be slotted into the team.

Robin Hulbert (14)- Was captain of Telford United before they folded and became a free agent.  After a successful trial, he was signed on a 2 year deal last summer.  Started last season well but faded as injuries took their toll.  Injured again in pre-season, Hulbert looks set to miss the first 2 months of this season.


Billy Paynter (10)- Last seasons player of the year and another product of the youth system.  Billy is a strong forward and a good finisher.  Can be a bit lazy at times but is certainly a potential 20 goal a season man.  He made his debut at 16 in 2002, and has now been a first team regular for 2 seasons.

Lee Matthews (7) - Signed from Bristol City last summer.  Very strong, good finisher and a bit of a brute to be honest.  Has a very good goals to games ratio but seems to be injury prone.  Without injuries he would have easily topped the 20 goal mark last season.  But having  picked up a knock in pre season he may not be fit for Saturday.

Nathan Lowndes (9) - Signed from Plymouth midway through last season but had a wrotten debut campaign for Vale.  Injury restricted him to 9 starts and he only managed 1 goal.  There seems to be potential there so hopefully things can improve for a player who has impressed in pre-season and now looks fit and free of injury.

Hector Sam (23)- Signed from Wrexham this summer, Hector is a Trinidad & Tobago international who apparently is pacey, tricky and a good goalscorer.  I haven;t seen much of him in pre-season so i wont comment but his goal ratio looks promising.