Date: 8th August 2007 at 2:31pm
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Rovers kick off the new season with a trip to Vale Park, so Vital Gas got in touch with Vale fan David Griffiths for an away fans guide.

Which pubs would you recommend to our fans to use during our visit to you?
‘The Vine’ is your best bet if you want a drink or two before the game. Located on Hamil Road, (approx 500 yards from the ground) ‘The Vine’ caters for away fans.
The ‘Bulls head’ is away friendly and can be found on St. Johns square in the town centre, but you’ll find quite a number of pubs will carry ‘home fans only’ signs on the door.

Which pubs would you suggest we avoid for the duration of our visit?
Generally speaking visiting fans can get in and out of Burslem without any hassle. Vale’s casual firm (VLF) tend to play by the rules and will only look for trouble with visiting casuals. However, like everywhere else, Burslem has its fair share of chavs who need to prove how hard they are by spitting and shouting abuse at families and lone fans. Its not unknown for away supporters coaches to leave Burslem with some of the windows put through with bricks, but its certainly not a common occurence.

What is your ground like?
Back in 1944 the board at Port Vale had a dream…

…to build a stadium like no other, a footballing cathedral where 70,000 spectators would be treated to the awesome Valiants slaying all that came before them.

It was dubbed ‘The Wembly of the north.’

Unfortunately this proved to be a tad ambitious. The cost of such a project was never thought through well enough, and amid rising costs the Board were forced to ‘downsize’ the scale of the stadium. Vale Park finally opened in 1950 with a capacity of 40,000. Today Vale Park has an all seater capacity of 23,000.

What food do you serve at your ground? What is it like?
Beer is available at Vale Park! Food-wise you’ll want to try our locally made ‘Wrights Pies’. The original Meat & Potato is still the best, but all sorts of fillings are available these days. Other than that you’ll find the usual hot and cold drinks and snacks on offer.

Is the ground easy to find?
Once you have found Burslem then Vale Park is well sign-posted. However, getting to Burslem can be cause a problem for visiting fans! If you are driving up then I would strongly recommend that you give junction 15 of the M6 a swerve and enter Stoke-On-Trent at junction 16. Burslem isn’t too far away from this junction and is well signposted.

Any suggestions of where the away fans can park?
There is a car park at the ground that you can use, but I have no idea of the cost. There are alot of terraced streets around Vale Park, so if you can find a space anywhere near the ground then it’ll save you a few quid.

What are the admission prices for away fans?
£19 as far as I know, but BRFC should have announced ticket details for visiting fans.

How do you think you will fair this season?
I’m expecting us to do well this season, a top ten finish should be well within our abilities. We’ve finished mid-table the past two seasons (13th then 12th) and I feel that we have a far better squad going into this season. Whether we can actually reach the play-off’s depends on whether we can sort out our defending and stop leaking soft goals which has let us down in recent years.

How well do you think Bristol Rovers will do this season?
I’m really not sure how you’ll do. Promoted teams are generally happy with keeping their heads above water – and after conceding seven against Plymouth at the weekend I’m sure you’d all be happy with survival for this season!

Who do you think are your key players this season?
Luke Rodgers, Shane Tudor, Akpo Sodje, George Pilkington, Craig Rocastle.

Finally Who do you think will win the league?
Nottingham Forest will be desperate for promotion after failing to reach the play-off final last season, If Leeds do overturn their points deduction (which I doubt) then they’ll be challenging as well.

Many thanks to David Griffiths Port Vale Vital


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