Pope blesses Vale with return

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Port Vale have secured the signature of Tom Pope from Bury, with the striker returning for a second spell at Vale Park.

The 31-year-old has exited Greater Manchester two years into a three-year deal to re-sign for his former club, and becomes boss Michael Brown’s first signing as permanent manager.

Finding the net 14 times in 80 appearances in all competitions during his time at Gigg Lane, he forged a strong partnership with fellow frontman James Vaughan last season. However, he was then deemed surplus to requirements by Shakers manager Lee Clark following the culmination of the campaign, and despite interest from a number of League One clubs, Pope has opted to drop down to League Two for the chance to represent his boyhood club once again.

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During his last stint in English football’s basement division the forward enjoyed a stellar season, hitting 33 goals as he fired Vale to promotion – and fans of the Burslem club will be praying he can deliver that kind of form again.

He carried his goalscoring ability into the third tier, firing a combined total of 28 goals in the succeeding two seasons.

Alas, with off-field problems at the club and the offer of a substantially higher wage in the North-West, Pope rejected the offer of a new contract in the Summer of 2015 to sign for Bury.

Now, he will be hoping that his goals can spearhead the Stoke club’s promotion charge, and help him achieve a second promotion in the white-and-black shirt of his beloved club.