Bogie man for the moment

Jon Culley studies the Valiant deeds of a gifted but insecure player
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The Independent Online
GOALS have never been a major part of Ian Bogie's repertoire, such a rarity in fact that before the paths of Port Vale and Everton crossed in the fourth round of the F A Cup last month the stocky midfielder had managed just nine in three and a half seasons. The vanquished holders can therefore consider themselves doubly unfortunate.

Having been thwarted by Bogie's long, looping last throw of the dice at Goodison Park, when he beat Neville Southall with the help of a significant deflection, the last thing, surely, in Everton's expectations was to see the deed repeated in last week's replay. Yet they were surprised again. And this time there was no element of luck as Bogie's rising 20-yarder bulged Southall's net and launched John Rudge's team into the fifth round.

It raised Bogie's tally for the season to three. But he picks his moments. His other goal, back in August, provided Vale with the other shining day in a gloomy season, victory in the Potteries derby at Stoke.

"It is the only part of his game that's missing," Rudge says of a 28- year-old player whose talents he first observed more than a decade ago. "Technically he is excellent. He has outstanding ability on the ball. Had he scored a few more, he would have been top-drawer without a doubt."

Certainly, he would not have been within Vale's budget. As an England schoolboy international he had 15 clubs on his trail, among them Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. He snubbed them for Newcastle, of whom he was a fanatical fan, and won the FA Youth Cup alongside his friend Paul Gascoigne.

Blessed with most of Gascoigne's gifts but none of the craziness, Bogie seemed to have riches before him. Instead hewound up at Preston, then Millwall and Leyton Orient, falling out of favour with one manager after another. Rudge, looking for a playmaker to fill in for the injured Ray Walker, bought him last March for just pounds 50,000.

He scored a vital goal in his first full match and helped Vale, after a season spent mostly under threat of relegation, secure First Division survival. But even under such a long-standing admirer as Rudge he cannot rely on a regular place.

This season Walker, a veteran of Vale's Cup win over Tottenham in 1988, has come back to deny Bogie the security he craved. The two have played together but mostly it has been one or the other. Indeed, without Walker's goals against Crystal Palace in the third round the meeting with Everton would not have taken place. Bogie got the nod last week, Rudge admits, "virtually on the toss of a coin".

It has become a source of deep frustration for him, although he betrays no bitterness at the relative modesty of his achievements, even when his career is compared with Gascoigne's.

"I just think I've been a victim of the way football is these days," he said. "I play the way I was brought up, doing the things that Colin Suggett encouraged me to do in his youth team at Newcastle. But the game has become a 100mph game, much more physical. Playmakers tend to be overlooked.

"When I was at Leyton Orient, Peter Eustace, who signed me from Millwall, encouraged me to express myself. But then he went, and although there were some quality players in Chris Turner's team, results did not go well last season and when Port Vale came in for me on deadline day, it suited them to sell.

"Now the problem is not so much one of being frustrated at the way I'm asked to play as being unhappy not to have a settled place. I've been in to see the manager several times about it. At 28 you cannot afford to be kicking around in the reserves."

Indeed, even after proving himself a man inspired by the big occasion, he cannot be sure that he will keep his place when Vale meet Leeds on Wednesday.

"Both he and Ray deserve to play," Rudge said. "They have both played well in recent matches. Ray came off the bench to score twice against Palace and Ian started as a substitute at Everton. But I cannot say there is any guarantee I'll pick him."