You’ll notice that the cover of today’s match day programme is a little different to the usual focus on a player.
That’s because we wanted to say ‘we miss you’ to the thousands of passionate Port Vale supporters who can’t be with us inside Vale Park today.
This is why we’ve put our fans on the front page and done everything we can to add value for you in recent weeks.
It’s why we held our ‘open weekends’ for the hugely successful home and away kit launches and allowed supporters to tour the stadium.
It’s why we gave free live stream access to fans for our home pre-season friendlies against Blackpool and Rochdale.
It’s why we’ve emailed our Season Ticket holders a digital copy of this programme.
The truth is, Vale Park just isn’t the same without you, the supporters, creating the atmosphere in the Railway Stand, the Railway Paddock, Lorne Street, the Bycars End, the accessibility stand, the hospitality boxes, the Presidents’ and Vice Presidents’ seats – the heartbeat of our club.
And so, while we are excited to be hosting Crawley Town for our first home league game of the season today, it will undoubtedly feel very different.
On that awful day when football was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, none of us knew how long it would be before we would all be able to return to stadiums.
For five months we’ve been unable to hold matches or stage events and functions at Vale Park. Football and hospitality ceased.
But your club never went into lockdown. Instead, as Adam Yates explains in his article, we transformed your Port Vale into a thriving hub to support tens of thousands of individuals and families across Stoke-on-Trent. We couldn’t do football or hospitality but, with the help of dozens of volunteers and local businesses and the support of Synectics Solutions, Summit Hospitality, the Port Vale Foundation and the Hubb Foundation, we could do community.
And, of course, we continued to evolve Vale Park – as many of you will have seen – with improvements such as the additional seating in Lorne Street and refurbishments to stands under our exciting new partnership with Burslem-based Autonet Insurance.
I’ll have many more exciting developments to share with you in the coming weeks and months as we look forward to welcoming you home.
But, for now, on behalf of everyone at Port Vale I want to thank the 4,000+ fans supporters who have shown wonderful loyalty by renewing or purchasing a Season Ticket in these uncertain times.
I want to thank everyone who purchased our splendid new home and away kits, designed in partnership with the one and only Robbie Williams.
And to every Vale fan out there today, watching the live stream or following the game on social media or the radio, I say thank you for your support. It means the world to everyone at the club – your club – and we look forward to seeing you soon.