Port Vale striker Tom Pope says he was disappointed that the League Two season ended early, with Vale sitting just outside the play-offs, but commends the brave decision taken by the club to end the season early.
The current coronavirus pandemic ended the League Two season early in March, and the season has been concluded on an unweighted points-per-game basis, which left Vale in eighth, just one place behind the play-offs.
“It was obviously a very brave move by the club to agree to end the season early,” said the clubs’ post-war leading goal scorer.
“We were probably the unluckiest team in the whole league when you look at it, finishing in eighth and being in seventh the week before.”
“Our confidence was very high, and with the form we were in, I firmly believe we would almost certainly have made the play-offs.”
“We were unbeaten in eight games, so confidence should be high amongst the lads now.”
However, Pope is happy to acknowledge the huge strides the club has taken in the right direction, in comparison to recent campaigns which have seen the club almost drop out of the EFL.
“In previous years we’ve really struggled, we’d probably have been happy if the season had been cut short then!”
“Hopefully we’re just at the start of a constant progression for the club!”
In terms of the club’s ambitions for next season, Pope has his sights set high.
“Hopefully we’ll improve next year by getting in that top seven and having another good season.”
“You’re always excited for the next season, that’s what you get paid for!”
“That’s the reason we do all the running and the fitness, so that we can play football.”
“Getting back out there on the pitch with a ball would be nice, I haven’t seen a ball for three months!”
“It’ll be great be around with a football back with the lads, and just kicking on to next season, whenever that may be.”
On a personal level, Pope feels he has performed well this year, despite not playing as much as he has done in previous campaigns, but still hitting the back of the net ten times this season.
“I think I’ve done okay this year on a personal level.”
“To get ten goals without playing every game, I’m happy with how I’ve played.”
“I am getting older, but I still feel like there’s plenty of goals left in me.”
In terms of season highlights, there are two in particular that stick out in Pope’s mind.
“The obvious highlight will be the Manchester City game in the FA Cup, but to get the hat-trick at Cheltenham in the previous round was probably even more special.”
“I hadn’t scored a hat-trick for about five or six years before that, so to come back into the side after not playing for a while and scoring a hat-trick was another special moment.”
And Pope has a simple message for all of the Valiant’s who have followed the team up and down the country during the last season on a regular basis.
“Just keep on doing what you’re doing.”
“The fans will be behind us like they always are and we want them to stick with us next season, so we can hopefully have a special campaign.”