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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
Gone but not forgotten:
Stephen Brooker
 
Position: Striker
From: Youth team
Record: Played: 0(2) Scored: 0
To: Port Vale - £15,000 - January 2001
He was: Our new SuperKev

Progress report
By Rob Fielding, of www.onevalefan.co.uk

It has been a disappointing second season at Vale Park for young striker Steve Brooker.

Bright beginnings
After signing from the Hornets for a bargain 15,000, the powerfully-built striker was an instant success for the Valiants. Playing alongside skilful veteran Tony Naylor, the nineteen year old scored eleven goals in just twenty eight games. Not bad for a player who had not managed a single full league appearance before his transfer.

Brooker's blossoming partnership with Naylor was enough to lift the Valiants clear of the relegation zone and into a lucrative LDV Vans Trophy final against Brentford.

The glory of the cup
The young striker enjoyed a fairytale visit to the Millennium Stadium as Vale, trailing by one goal to nil, mounted a comeback in the last ten minutes. As Vale dominated following Bridge-Wilkinson's equalising penalty, Brooker dramatically latched onto a superb ball from Naylor and netted the cup winning goal with just minutes to spare.

Life's a struggle
However, the striker has found it a tough task to match the heights of his debut season in league football. Looking unfit and sluggish in pre-season the striker has looked a shadow of his former self and netted just six goals so far this season.

Fitness seems to have played a part in his loss of form but perhaps more crucially the loss of strike partner Naylor to Cheltenham has left Vale bereft of experience upfront. With four strikers all aged under 21, the role of targetman has fallen on Brooker's broad shoulders and as a result his scoring-rate has suffered as he battles on behalf of the team.

There's still hope
However, Vale fans still have high hopes for the striker - who at a massive 15,000 represents the most expensive purchase in Brian Horton's team of bargains and cast-offs. At just twenty years of age and with just over fifty full appearances so far, the youngster can still harbour ambitions of higher leagues.

And if he keeps notching Cup Final winning goals, Vale fans will be absolutely delighted.

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