Ex-Blackpool man Mark Cullen excited to experience newfound positivity at Port Vale

Cullen became accustomed to playing in front of an empty Bloomfield Road during his time at Blackpool
Cullen became accustomed to playing in front of an empty Bloomfield Road during his time at Blackpool
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Former Blackpool striker Mark Cullen is excited to experience the newfound positivity at Port Vale after the doom and gloom of his Bloomfield Road spell.

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The 27-year-old signed a one-year deal with the League Two side on Wednesday following his release from Blackpool.

The Seasiders aren’t the only club to have gained new owners this summer, with Port Vale fans and local entrepreneurs Carol and Kevin Shanahan completing a takeover in May.

That’s provided an uplift in mood at Vale Park following the departure of controversial former owner Norman Smurthwaite.

While things are looking up for Pool with a new owner of their own, Cullen never got to experience the recent positivity during his five years at the club.

He first arrived in 2015 amid well-documented unrest among the fanbase, while the majority of supporters boycotted home fixtures.

“This is a fresh start for me with pretty much a fresh club in a way with the new owners and new players coming in, so it excited me to come in,” Cullen said.

“I was at Blackpool for some of the darker times so I’m looking forward to coming to a place which is bright and exciting.

“I spoke to (former Blackpool teammate and current Port Vale coach) Danny Pugh about the club last week and he said all good things about the way they were trying to set about things.

“Once I heard that I knew it was a good opportunity for me. It’s been in the pipeline for a couple of weeks, it was just about getting the final details sorted.”

While Cullen’s time at Blackpool came in the midst of fan protests against the Oystons, he still looks back fondly on his time on the Fylde Coast.

His best memory came back in League Two during the 2016/17 season, when he bagged a hat-trick in the play-off semi-final against Luton Town before scoring the winner at Wembley.

“You dream of that as a kid, so to be able to say I’ve done that and fulfilled that dream is unbelievable,” he added.

“It probably hasn’t even sunk in yet, every time I speak about it I get butterflies.

“In those play-off games I did really well so you could maybe say I’m a player for the big occasion.

“But it’s the tough games you want to be scoring in and you just wait for the big games to come along. Hopefully I can do that here.”

The striker has been blighted by injury issues for the past two seasons and spent the back-end of the season on loan at Carlisle United.

The former Luton Town man, who signed for a figure of £180,000, is hoping to put those issues behind him and bag as many goals as possible.

“I’d like to think I can bring goals to the team,” Cullen said.

“I’ve played at this level for a good number of years and I’ve scored a reasonable amount of goals.

“I’m looking forward to scoring as many as possible.

“I also like to link up the play the best I can and I’ll work my hardest for the team and cause trouble for opposition defenders.

“As a striker I obviously like to score goals so if I can bring all that to the team we’ll have a successful time.

“I just want to play as many games as possible and score as many too, nothing fancy really. I’m not going to put any number on goals or anything like that.

“I just want to play and start enjoying my football again.

“As a team you never know, anything can happen. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready.”