James Gibbons’ transfer blessing from Bristol Rovers legend and the moment that inspired him
Before leaving Port Vale, he had an honest conversation with a popular Gas figure
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James Gibbons has revealed he held a conversation with an ex-Bristol Rovers manager before joining this summer.
The 24-year-old joined the Gas on a free transfer in June after rejecting a deal from his previous club, Port Vale.
Despite their promotion success, he opted to move on to pastures new and was one of the first of 10 summer signings.
He worked under legendary former boss Darrell Clarke at Vale Park, and was a part of last season’s promotion winning side.
Before his new opportunity was shared to the footballing public, he held a conversation with the Valiants boss who gave him his blessing.
“Darrell was pleased when I signed here,” Gibbons revealed. “He had nothing but good words to say about the club.
“He’s arguably a legend at the club for what he did here, I’ve got nothing but admiration for Darrell Clarke, what he’s done and he was brilliant with me.”
Gibbons joined Port Vale aged eleven and ended his career with 111 appearances for the Valiants, leaving them on a positive note.
Eyebrows were raised by Vale supporters however given the two would be in the same division in the next season.
He said: “The conversation wasn’t a salty one, it was a pat on the back, thanks for everything you’ve done, I thanked him for everything he’d done for me as a player and a person, we wished each other all the best and we’ll see each other again.”
Gibbons has only had the fortune of playing twice for Rovers having suffered an injury that has ruled him out for the past two months.
Instead, he has had more of an experience of playing against his current club, and there is one match that stands out in his mind, that sold the club to him, whilst being on the opposition.
One of the main games in the Gas’ promotion charge towards the end of the League Two season was the visit to Vale Park on Easter Monday earlier this year.
Gibbons had to watch on from the stands as a result of an injury but was there and present as Rovers began their late ascension to the automatic promotion picture.
Five points separated the two teams at the time with four games remaining but a win in Staffordshire would keep them in fifth, but close the gap on the third and final promotion spot.
Jamie Proctor opened the scoring for the hosts but goals from Elliot Anderson and James Connolly turned the game on its head. The match is best remembered however for the third goal with Ryan Loft opening his account after four months without a goal, sparking jubilant scenes in the away end.
“I think that game was a big turning point for both teams,” he said. I think Vale was five points clear in the top three. Rovers beat them, closed the gap and ended up overturning it with a couple of games to go.
“From that game, for me, Rovers were the best team we played at Vale Park that season, not many teams came and outplayed us throughout that season so it did stick with me a bit.”
“The fans making the journey up made a lot of noise and I think there were over 3000 and the noise when Lofty scored at the last minute to see the game off and it was scenes in the away end.
“The way the team celebrated, it looked like a good place to be and obviously they kicked on and ended up getting promoted.”