By Tony Leighton
Port Vale manager Micky Adams has dedicated his team's promotion to the players who stuck by the club through the desperate times of administration and who have bounced back to fire the Valiants up to npower League 1.
Adams was in his second spell at Vale Park, having returned from an ill-fated stint at Sheffield United, when the club was plunged into administration in March last year with the Valiants sitting just below the Play-Off places.
They ended the campaign, having been docked the obligatory 10 points due to going into administration, in 12th place and it was not until November that they came out of administration via a takeover by the now chairman Paul Wildes.
As he reflected on the trials and tribulations of those difficult seven months, followed by the run to promotion that has blown away the Vale Park gloom, Adams told football-league.co.uk: "This promotion is all about the players.
"I can't speak highly enough of them. When the club went into administration they all had the chance to walk away, but they decided to stay and all credit to them because they had to come through some very hard times.
"We had a six-week period where we didn't get any money. It wasn't as bad for me because I've done okay out of the game, but some of these lads were living hand to fist and they were racking up debt.
"I was angry when we went into administration because we'd had a decent season up until then, and I thought that we had more than a chance of getting into the Play-Offs and hopefully then winning promotion.
"That's why the achievement this season is so special. We were still in administration at the start, but we'd had a good pre-season and we decided that we'd all stick together and see how it goes - and it's gone great."
Adams has handed his plaudits to the players but the manager himself played a major part in keeping up morale and battling through a spell of administration that at one point seemed as though it could escalate into the club's closure.
He had ended his first spell at Vale in December 2010, with his team second in the table, to take charge at Sheffield United - then in the Championship and who are his hometown club and the club he has supported since his boyhood.
But the Blades were relegated at the end of that season and Adams, after being dismissed, returned to Vale and - having managed at eight clubs - told football-league.co.uk at the time: "It's time I stayed around and developed a football club."
That development is now well underway, though Adams says in retrospect: "I'd started that process before I left to go to Sheffield United. Unfortunately for me I let my heart rule my head and things didn't work out at Bramall Lane.
"When I came back I didn't want people thinking I was using Port Vale as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Regardless of all the problems we had last year I felt I owed it to the club to stick around and see what I could do."
Adams has stuck around and worked to great effect, his team sitting in the top three places for practically the whole of the current campaign and deservedly ending with automatic promotion five seasons after dropping into League 2.
Now the manager is looking onwards and upwards as he contemplates the task of stepping up a division. Will he look to consolidate or aim higher? "That word 'consolidate' is not one that we'll want to use around here," says Adams.
"The people who have taken over the club are ambitious and very positive. We'll have to improve the product on the pitch so we'll need to spend a few quid, but the aim is to keep the ball rolling and maybe have a pop at the Championship."
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