There’s no doubt about it, Tom Pope is a Port Vale legend; he went into today’s FA Cup tie with Cheltenham three goals shy of Martin Foyle’s scoring record for the Valiants.
They faced a tough trip to high-flying Cheltenham Town, a side hunting promotion and a place in Round Two under manager Michael Duff. Vale, who have improved from last season but are not firing on all cylinders, wouldn’t have envisaged a big win.
Rueben Reid’s third-minute penalty will have left them with even less hope, giving the home side an advantage which they held on to for the first half, as well as 15 minutes of the second period. Jeff Stelling commented that Pope, a cult hero in parts of Burslem, wasn’t having a good game. The belligerent campaigner must have heard him.
He bagged in the 60th minute to level the scores, put his side ahead on 63 minutes and completed an eight-minute hattrick on 68 to send him into the record books, and put the Valiants in Round Three.
After the game Pope, never one to shy away from social media, posted a tongue-in-cheek message to supporters. ‘I’m sick to death of saving this club’ he claimed, despite being anything but.
Tom Pope is a hero at Vale Park and today’s exploits will only cement that even further. He’s now gunning for the all-time record, although he has some way to go; Wilf Kirkham scored 164 goals in all competitions for Vale, with Pope and Foyle currently on 108.
We love Tom Pope here at The Real EFL. He’s everything fans want to see; a no-nonsense centre forward who scores goals but is in touch with the real world.
He’s outspoken, he’s aggressive on the field and he plays in the way a fan would; all-action and not giving a toss who he steamrolls in the process.
He’s the sort of hero every lower league club want and at Vale, he’s surely classed as a legend. On to Round Three where no Premier League centre half will be safe if Tom Pope is on the field.