That was the weekend that was

Loyalty alive and well in Potteries
Click to follow
The Independent Online
"Loyalty is for supporters," Mark McGhee said the other day, "not players or managers." Having moved from Reading to Leicester and now Wolves in little more than a year, he would say that, wouldn't he?

Happily, not every professional shares his outlook. Just up the M6 from Molineux, at Port Vale, is a story that owes everything to the qualities of which McGhee is the antithesis, to such men as John Rudge, manager for almost 12 years, and midfielder Ray Walker, now in his 10th Vale Park season.

Without Walker, whose memorable 12th-minute strike, beating Tottenham's Tony Parks from 25 yards, set up another great Cup day for Vale in January 1988, Saturday's heart-stopper against Everton would not have taken place. It had been two more goals from the 32-year-old one-time Aston Villa prospect - sole survivor of the 1988 giant-killing team - that had earned the trip to Goodison after he came on as substitute in their third-round replay against Crystal Palace.

All this after missing the entire 1993/94 season through a Gazza-style cruciate ligament injury, before which he had been linked with a move to Manchester City but chose to stay. Now he has every chance of being rewarded with a Wembley appearance - in the Anglo-Italian Cup, that is, Vale having reached the two-leg English final.