PORT Vale will play Crewe Alexandra this summer – thanks to a player who loved his time at both clubs.
Tony Naylor is organising a meeting of the local rivals on Sunday, July 26, as a sequel to the hugely successful Vale versus Stoke City charity game last summer.
As with that Potteries derby, the Vale v Crewe game will be staged to raise funds to support sufferers of Alzheimer's Disease and other dementia-related illnesses.
Last year's game raised £20,000 for North Staffs mental health charity Approach after 3,844 Vale and Stoke fans flocked to Vale Park.
This year's game will again be at the Vale, where Naylor banged in 90 goals during seven happy years.
He was also a huge success at Crewe, scoring 66 goals in four years after then manager Dario Gradi signed him from non-league Droylsden in 1990.
Naylor is lining up popular former players from both sides to play in the game, just as he did last year when Vale legends Ray Walker, Neil Aspin, Robin van der Laan, Jon McCarthy and Ian Bogie were among the players who helped the Valiants to an 8-0 win over the Potters XI.
This year's teams will be managed by each club's most successful manager – John Rudge for the Valiants and Dario Gradi for Crewe.
Naylor, aged 48, described organising last year's game as the biggest challenge of his career. He admits he had no idea what he was doing when he started, but was inspired to act because his dad, Joe, suffers from Alzheimer's.
After the success of last year's event, Naylor is looking forward to the return of what he hopes will become an annual charity game.
What's more, he will again be helped by his fellow organiser and good friend Kevin Jones whose companies ICL and manorshop.com are sponsoring the game.
Naylor said: "It was such a fantastic day last year that it would have been a shame to leave it as a one off.
"I want to thank everyone who turned up to play and watch last year to make it such a great occasion.
"I had wondered if anyone would turn up, but from the moment I got out of my car there were people there taking photos.
"It was great to be back in the dressing room at Vale with players I hadn't seen for years.
"We can't run like we used to, but it was great to be back at Vale Park and just to be a part of the occasion and that atmosphere.
"It was also lovely to see Stoke and Vale supporters sitting together and enjoying the day. It's something I'll never forget.
"But the real point of the day is to raise awareness of Alzheimer's and other illnesses.
"My dad's not too bad. He forgets quite a bit, but basically is okay so we are fortunate. He was massively proud of what we did, as is my mum."
Naylor will announce two local charities who will benefit from this year's event – one each from North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.
Look out too for details of kick-off time and prices shortly as Naylor and Jones finalise the arrangements.
In the meantime, Naylor is also keeping an eye on the fortunes of Vale and Crewe as both try to stay in League One.
He said: "It's a little perilous for them at the moment but I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be okay.
"My time at Crewe was fantastic and the fans were great to me.
"Being coached by Dario Gradi made me the player I was and then after coming to Vale, I learned from John Rudge's experience and the terrific team he put together.
"I owe a massive debt to both clubs for what they did for my career."
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