Date:Friday January 3 2014
Vale striker Lee Hughes has left the club to join Conference side Forest Green Rovers. Hughes` departure had been expected. With first team opportunities becoming increasingly limited owing to the emergence of Jordan Hugill and the return to fitness of Gavin Tomlin, along with the club`s need to offload one of its highest earners, it is in the best interests of both parties to move on.
However, that doesn`t pay due regard to the impact Hughes had in his year at Vale. Many, including myself, were underwhelmed at his signing for personal reasons. His performances on the pitch lived up to billing. Although long past his buccaneering best, Hughes has lost none of his instincts in front of goal. A memorable performance in Vale`s crucial 7-1 demolition of Burton Albion late last season will live long in the memory. Indeed, the Valiants would have struggled to gain promotion were it not for Hughes` goals. When Tom Pope suffered a goal drought lasting some ten games, Hughes` experience told.
Credit must also be given to his role off the field. Not a bad word has been uttered about him during his time with the club. His conduct and professionalism have been exemplary and must be commended. The fact that he has opted to continue his playing career at a lower level is testament to his enthusiasm and passion for the game. Speaking on his move, Hughes stated: "I really want to play football, it`s not about the money wherever. I have enjoyed myself tremendously, the fans have been unbelievable and I would like to thank all the fans and all the staff.
"The manager, Micky, has been brilliant since I have been here, we have got on so well, and I am sad to leave.
"Port Vale is going to be the first team I look at on a Saturday and hopefully they will go on now and get into the play-offs, they have got a great chance and I just wish them all the best.
"I have enjoyed it here from day one when I came here and the gaffer said if it wasn`t for my goals last season we might not have got promoted.
"I am just glad that I have contributed in that way. They are a great bunch of lads and I am going to miss it here, but it`s one of those things in football where you just want to play, especially at my age now."
The move may allow manager Micky Adams to reinforce to his squad, with the need for some added quality at centre back a must. The financial implications of Sunday`s FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle-and indeed the draw which precedes it-could be huge for the club.
We wish Hughesey all the best with his move and thank him for his services to the Vale!
Date:Friday January 3 2014
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