Port Vale F.C.

Port Vale F.C.

Football club infobox
clubname = Port Vale F.C.

fullname = Port Vale Football Club
nickname = "The Valiants", "The Vale"
founded = 1876
ground = Vale Park
capacity = 22,356
chairman = Bill Bratt
manager = Dean Glover
league = League Two
season = 2007-08
position = League One, 23rd

Port Vale Football Club are an English football club currently playing in Football League Two. They are based in Burslem, Staffordshire — one of six towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The club's rivals are Stoke City, and games between the two clubs are known as the "Potteries derby"; however, games against Crewe Alexandra are also classed as a derby, although "Alex" are situated in south Cheshire.

Port Vale are one of the few English league clubs not to be named after a geographical location. The name "Port Vale" exists on maps pre-dating the 1876 formation of the club, and is a reference to a valley of ports on the Trent and Mersey canal, associated with the city's pottery industry.

Lee Sinnott was sacked as the club's manager on 22 September, 2008, after less than a year in charge.cite news
title = Sinnott parts company with Vale
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/p/port_vale/7629851.stm
publisher = BBC Sport
date = 2008-09-22
accessdate = 2008-09-22
] Dean Glover replaced him on 6 October. [cite news
title = Glover named new Port Vale boss
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/p/port_vale/7653984.stm
publisher = BBC Sport
date = 2008-10-06
accessdate = 2008-10-06


Early years

Port Vale were formed in 1876, following a meeting at the Port Vale House, from where the club took its name. cite web|url=http://www.port-vale.premiumtv.co.uk/page/History/0,,10381,00.html|title=A Brief Club History|publisher=www.port-vale.co.uk|date=2007-12-04|accessdate=2008-06-09] The club moved to Burslem in 1884, changing its name to Burslem Port Vale in the process.

The Rudge era

Promotion and giant-killing, 1983-1989

John Rudge took over the management reins at Vale Park in December 1983, after the sacking of John McGrath following the club's form upon Vale's promotion to Division Three. Despite being unable to halt Vale's immediate return to the bottom tier of the Football League, Division Four, finishing 23rd, Rudge made his first profit in the 1984 close season, when he sold Mark Bright to Leicester City for £33,000. Bright had originally been a signing from local non-leaguers Leek Town. Rudge steadied the ship, and had Vale promoted back to the third tier in 1985-86, losing just once at Vale Park, and, helped by the goals of prolific Welshman Andy Jones, finished in fourth place. Jones continued to prove another inspired Rudge signing a level higher, netting a club-record thirty-seven goals in the 1986-87 season, belittling his £3,000 price tag from Rhyl. Jones was then sold for a then-club-record fee of £375,000 to Charlton.

The Valiants' rise didn't stop there. After three seasons in Division Three, another promotion, to Division Two, followed in 1988-89. Robbie Earle scored the winning goal at Vale Park to complete a 2-1 aggregate play-off final victory over Bristol Rovers. Also in 1988, Rudge also oversaw the first of three Cup giant-killing acts over the next few seasons when a Vale side, mid-way in Division Three, defeated Tottenham of Division One) 2-1. Ray Walker and Phil Sproson were on target for Vale against Terry Venables' side, which included Chris Waddle and Clive Allen but omitted Ossie Ardiles, apparently due to the heavy state of the pitch, which turned out to be costly for the London outfit.

Following promotion in 1989, Vale had two seasons in the Second Division, and were on course for a third when placed half way up the table at the end of November 1991. They then went into a slump which led to their relegation of the final day of the 1991-92 league campaign.

In 1992-93, Vale narrowly missed out on promotion as runners-up to Reading when Bolton Wanderers pipped them on the final day. Vale then lost in the play-off final to West Bromwich Albion.

Promotion and stabilising, 1993-95

Vale were able to bounce back with Rudge's next two bargain buys becoming important players. Ian Taylor, whom Vale had signed for £15,000 from non-League Moor Green, and Dutch import Robin van der Laan (signed for £80,000) came to the fore. With Martin Foyle back fit and experienced Bernie Slaven up front, Vale surged to second place, confirming promotion on the final day with a 3-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion's Goldstone Ground in front of 6,000 travelling fans. Vale also notched another FA Cup scalp beating then-Premiership side Southampton 1-0 at Vale Park in an third-round replay.

Taylor became Rudge's first £1,000,000 sale, when Sheffield Wednesday invested in the midfielder. The money was spent on bringing Steve Guppy and Gareth Griffiths to the club during the 1994-95 campaign.

Vale finished seventeenth in 1994-95, avoiding relegation by ten points, and again in spite of the pre-season sale of van der Laan, who Derby bought for £475,000. Jon McCarthy and Lee Mills also joined before the 1995-96 season began.

Giant-killers award, 1995-96

During the 1995-96 season, Vale struggled to find their form. Ten games into the league season, they had recorded only one win (in the local derby against Stoke) and were struggling near the bottom of the table. Early home form was also the worst for years, and it took the Valiants until 2 December to finally notch a win at Vale Park, when Martin Foyle scored to beat Huddersfield Town 1-0. A 5-1 defeat at Ipswich on New Years Day, saw Vale slip to second from bottom, with just five wins all season, but the FA Cup was again to prove the tonic. The draw had done Vale no favours, with a trip to promotion-chasing Crystal Palace, but a goalless draw brought the tie back to Vale Park. Vale eventually won the tie, on a freezing January night, with Ray Walker scoring the winner in extra time to seal a 4-3 win, and set up a trip to cup-holders Everton in the fourth round.

In the tie with Everton, Vale twice came from behind at Goodison Park to draw 2-2, with Ian Bogie scoring from virtually the last kick of the match. The replay saw Vale Park full to capacity to witness Vale win 2-1.

The victory saw Vale go into the fifth round, in which they would play Leeds United away. Leeds were then a top-ten Premiership side. The game at Elland Road took place on a Tuesday, thanks to various cancellations due to inclement weather. The game finished goalless, and the tie went to a replay in Burslem. Leeds won the replay 2-1, but Vale's cup exploits were to earn them the FA's Giantkillers award for the 1995-96 season.

League form improves and the Anglo-Italian Cup, 1995-96

The cup run seemed to inspire Vale onto better things in the league, with a run of five wins in a row pushing them up to twelfth as the season drew to a close. Vale also had some success in the Anglo-Italian Cup, as they qualified for the final at Wembley, in the competition's final season. Vale secured a 5-3 win at Italian side Perugia in wich Lee Mills netted a hat-trick. The English semi-final draw pitted Vale away to Ipswich Town, who they had already lost to 5-1. Tony Naylor scored a hat-trick as Vale recorded a 4-2 win at Portman Road, the first victory in their history at the ground. A 3-1 victory in the second leg of the English final at Vale Park, against West Brom, confirmed a 4-2 aggregate success, and a game against Italian winners Genoa in the final. The Italians ran out 5-2 winners, with Martin Foyle netting both Vale goals.

The highest finish since the 1930s 1996-97

Again, Vale made a slow start to the 1996-97 campaign, with only two wins from their opening ten league games. They enjoyed some success in the League Cup, however, beating local rivals Crewe Alexandra 5-1 at their Gresty Road home. A protest against chairman Bill Bell after a poor home defeat to Crystal Palace seemed to see an upturn in the Valiants' performances. A second win at Wolves' Molineux ground (1-0), in two seasons, was followed by a mixed period. In December they achieved three wins on the bounce, against ex-Premiership sides Charlton 3-1 at The Valley, 6-1 at home to Norwich City and concluding in a single-goal Boxing Day success at Manchester City in front of more than 30,000. Despite the sale of Steve Guppy to Leicester City for £800,000, Vale's form remained steady from then on, until five wins from six, from mid-March to mid-April, put them in with a chance of making the play-offs and, ultimately, a place in the Premiership. However, with three games remaining, Vale were to lose to Stoke City, before Wolves came away from Vale Park with a 2-1 victory to end their hopes. Vale's final finishing position of eighth was their highest in the pyramid since 1931, when they had finished fifth in the old Division Two.

Decline since 1997

The eighth-placed finish was to be the height of Vale's powers under John Rudge, and the following season, 1997-98, saw a more familiar mid-table and, eventually, relegation battle. Another FA Cup tie was Vale hold eventual winners Arsenal to a goalless draw at Highbury and 1-1 at Vale Park (Wayne Corden equalising a Dennis Bergkamp goal) before the Gunners eventually prevailed 4-3 on penalties, despite Lee Dixon missing their opening kick. Vale found themselves in deep relegation trouble going into the final match at Huddersfield after three straight defeats. Goals from Martin Foyle, Jan Jansson (two) and Lee Mills saw Vale claim a 4-0 win and an escape at the expense of Manchester City and Stoke City.

1998-99 saw Port Vale fare little better, with an early League Cup defeat to Chester City setting the tone. After sixteen years as Port Vale manager, John Rudge was sacked in January 1999 after one of Vale's most successful eras. He was replaced by former player Brian Horton, who had been working at Brighton & Hove Albion. Dwindling fortunes, both on the pitch and financially, put relegation on the cards. Horton made five transfer-deadline day signings costing #1,000,000, and Vale managed a second-consecutive final-day escape after losing just two of their remaining eight games. Although Vale lost by a single goal at Bury, the Valiants stayed up (at Bury's expense) by virtue of having scored more goals (this was the last season before "goal difference" replaced "goals scored" as the Football League's separator for teams on equal points).

There was no escape in 1999-2000, however. It was Huddersfield who eventually sealed Vale's fate with a 2-1 win at Vale Park, with Vale ultimately going down thirteen points adrift.

A worsening financial crisis put the club's future in jeopardy by the end of 2000. Vale were in the relegation zone of Division Two, and after a FA Cup first-round defeat to Ryman Leaguers Canvey Island, the team seemed to be heading towards another relegation, with fans once again protesting against chairman Bill Bell. However, there was change in fortunes after the turn of the year, as Brian Horton's team transformed their league form to pull up to a top-half finish while also gaining silverware by beating Brentford in the final of the LDV Vans Trophy. This included a post-war record of sixteen matches unbeaten in all competitions, with Vale eventually finishing eleventh.

After the League Trophy-winning season, the Valiants lost the services of veterans Tony Naylor and Allen Tankard, but young prospects Steve Brooker, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and new signings Stephen McPhee and Ian Armstrong were waiting in the wings. However, Vale suffered from inconsistency, and finished the 2001-02 campaign in fourteenth place.

With further discontentment at the running of the club, a supporters' trust under the banner "Valiant 2001" started moves towards attaining ownership of the club, including several offers that were rejected by chairman Bell.

The next season, 2002-03, was to see Vale's financial problems come to a head. With first-round exits in both cup competitions and another mediocre season in the league on the cards, Bill Bell eventually called in the administrators with the club around £1.5 million in debt.

Valiant 2001 eventually secured control of the club after a long and drawn-out process as the season neared its close. Bill Bratt became the new chairman, and even though the finances were still slim for quite a while, Vale were relatively buoyant. On the pitch, a brief cameo from veteran striker Brett Angell had kept the club above the relegation zone before Christmas with seven goals in fifteen games, and prodigy Billy Paynter helping out with five goals in a young-and-old partnership. However, with the financial problems, the funds were not found to keep Angell beyond November, and after a run of poor form Vale slipped into the bottom four in March.

With the concern of immediate extinction over, and Horton's resourceful signing of experienced Adrian Littlejohn (who scored three goals) the final ten games saw an upturn in form and Vale eventually finish in seventeenth place.

Under Valiant 2001

2003-04 was a new era for the club off the pitch, with the club coming out of administration under a new board of fan-ownership. A reduction in match- and season-ticket prices saw around 3,000 season tickets sold. On the pitch, the club had ridden out administration by avoiding relegation (the ten-point penalty did not apply in 2003) with Brian Horton building a young, pacey side.

The club made their best start to a season for many a year and found themselves top of the table at the end of September. Vale remained on course to at least be challenging for the play-offs come May. Their position in the table was based largely on the goals of an attacking front four: Billy Paynter and Adrian Littlejohn played on the right and left, while Steve Brooker and Stephen McPhee forming a partnership up front.

Despite a modicum of success, Horton left in March 2004 after the board revealed he would not be given a new contract on the same terms and his budget would be slashed due to cost-cutting after administration. He was to be replaced by former player Martin Foyle, who had been a success as the club's youth-team manager. Horton left the team in seventh place, just outside the playoffs, and this was ultimately where the club would finish after a final day at Rushden & Diamonds' Nene Park. Going into the game, Vale needed a win to overtake either Swindon or Hartlepool in the play-off places and hope they both lost. However, the twist was that both these teams were playing each other and needed just a point to deny Vale a play-off place — unless, that is, Vale won by seven clear goals. Vale dispatched Rushden with a 2-0 win (Steve McPhee scoring both and taking his tally to 27 for the season) but Swindon and Hartlepool played out a 1-1 draw at the County Ground, thus meaning Vale missed out on goal-difference.

Foyle spent almost four years as manager after this, but after Vale continuted to languish in mid-table he was sacked on 4 November, 2007, with Vale in deep relegation trouble. He was succeeded by Lee Sinnott, but Sinnott was unable to prevent the club from sliding into League Two after a 23rd-place finish.

2008-09 is Vale's first season in the bottom tier of the Football League for almost a quarter of a century. Sinnot was sacked on 22 September, 2008, after an unsuccessful start to their League Two campaign, Glover taking over as caretaker-manager for the second time in twelve months.


Vale Park has been Port Vale's home ground since 1950, when the club moved from the Old Recreation Ground in Hanley, which stood on what is now the multi-storey car park for the Potteries Shopping Centre. The Rec had been Vale's home since 1913, at which point they had flitted between several homes in their early years of existence. One of these was the Cobridge Athletic Ground, which was also a dog track for greyhound racing in Cobridge, an area between Burslem and Hanley. Vale Park has a notional capacity of around 22,000; however with all the developments and a switch to an all-seater stadium in recent years, it is more likely around 18 or 19,000 once Lorne Street is completed.

Despite not being the oldest ground in the world, Vale Park has had several upgrades in its history. The original ground consisted of just two stands (The Railway side and the Lorne Street main stand) with banks of terracing at the Bycars and Hamil ends of the ground. Stands were eventually added behind each set of goals during the 1980s and 1990s as the ground began to be modernised. The paddock at the front of the Railway Stand was also made into an all-seated area, with just the Lorne Street side now being left as a standing area. Vale fans stood for the last time on Lorne Street at the end of the 1997-98 season, with the stand being demolished before work began on a new £3,000,000 structure. Work has yet to been finished on this, due to lack of finances and a change in ownership of the club. However, once new owners V2001 had taken care of the financing, work was finally begun on finishing the second half of the stand. It is due to be completed sometime in 2008.

Robbie Williams

Among the club's famous fanbase is singer Robbie Williams, who was raised in Stoke-on-Trent. He is now a major shareholder, having, in February 2006, bought £240,000 worth of the £250,000 worth of available shares in the club. Castle Comfort Stairlifts, the club's sponsors, at the same time bought the remainder for £10,000. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/stoke/content/articles/2006/02/27/robbie_williams_vale_stake_feature.shtml "Robbie buys into Vale"] , BBC.co.uk, 27 February 2006]

For the computer game FIFA 2000, he provided an original theme song with "It's Only Us", on the condition that Port Vale were included in the game, which they were, and are located in the Rest of World section. This song was also featured on the first and only FIFA Soundtrack CD release by EMI. [citeweb |url=http://www.mobygames.com/game/fifa-2000-major-league-soccer/trivia|title= FIFA 2000: Major League Soccer |publisher=Moby Games |date=2006-08-20 |accessdate=2008-07-16]

Honours and achievements

Football League Division Three
*Play-off winners 1988–89

Football League Division Three North
*Champions: 1929–30; 1953–54

Football League Division Four
*Champions 1958–59

Football League Trophy
*Winners 1992–93, 2000–01

Anglo-Italian Cup
*Runners-up 1995–96

Debenhams Cup
*Runners-up 1976–77

FA Cup
*Semi Finalists 1953–54

Staffordshire Senior Cup
*Winners 2000–01

Other promotions

*1969–70: Football League Division Four 4th (promotion to Football League Division Three)
*1982–83: Football League Division Four 3rd (promotion to Football League Division Three)
*1985–86: Football League Division Four 4th (promotion to Football League Division Three)
*1993–94: Football League Division Two Runners Up (promotion to Football League Division One)

Highest Football League finishes

Pre War:
*1930–31: Football League Division Two 5th

Post War:
*1996–97: Football League Division One 8th


Highest attendance50,000: vs Aston Villa, 20 February 1960, FA Cup R5
Largest league win9-1: vs Chesterfield, 24 September 1932, Division Two
Heaviest league defeat0-10: vs Sheffield United, 10 December 1892, Division Two
Largest cup win7-1: vs Irthlingborough, 12 January 1907, FA Cup R1
Most capped playerChristopher Birchall: 22, Trinidad and Tobago
Most League appearancesRoy Sproson: 761, 1950-1972
Most League goalsWilf Kirkham: 154, 1923-1933
Most goals in a seasonWilf Kirkham: 38, 1926-27
Highest transfer fee paid£500,000: Gareth Ainsworth from Lincoln City, 11 September 1997
Highest transfer fee received£2,000,000: Gareth Ainsworth to Wimbledon, 29 October 1998

Current squad

:"As of 25 September, 2008."cite news
url = http://www.port-vale.premiumtv.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10381~1332596,00.html
publisher = Port Vale FC
date = 2008-06-23
accessdate = 2008-06-23

Notable players

:"See also: - a list of all Port Vale F.C. players with a Wikipedia article."

Notable former players include: ;England
* Gareth Ainsworth
* Ronnie Allen
* Neil Aspin
* Marcus Bent
* Ian Bogie
* Mark Bright
* Mark Chamberlain
* Martin Foyle
* Dean Glover
* Jimmy Greenhoff
* Steve Guppy
* Dean Holdsworth
* Brian Horton
* Keith Houchen
* Wilf Kirkham
* Bill McGarry
* Lee Mills
* Ernie Moss
* Paul Musselwhite
* Tony Naylor
* Billy Paynter
* Andy Porter
* Roy Sproson
* Alfred Strange
* Ian Taylor
* Bobby Thomson
* Ray Walker;Jamaica
*flagicon|Jamaica Robbie Earle;New Zealand
*flagicon|New Zealand Chris Killen;Nigeria
*flagicon|Nigeria George Abbey;Northern Ireland
*flagicon|Northern Ireland Billy Bingham
*flagicon|Northern Ireland David Healy
*flagicon|Northern Ireland Jon McCarthy
*flagicon|Northern Ireland Danny Sonner;Netherlands
*flagicon|Netherlands Robin van der Laan;Republic of Ireland
* Eamon O'Keefe
* Jimmy O'Neill
* Bernie Slaven;Scotland
* Stephen McPhee;Trinidad & Tobago
*flagicon|Trinidad and Tobago Chris Birchall;Wales
*flagicon|Wales Neville Southall

Reserve and youth teams

The club has run a reserve team for most of its history, with it currently competing in The Central League Division One Central. The team is usually made up of a combination of fringe players and youth players in the last year or two of their scholarships. Former Vale player Andy Porter, who is also manager of the youth team, takes charge of the reserves, leading them to second place in the 2007-08 league, although it was not enough to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs as a best runner-up.

The most senior of the club's youth teams play their matches in the Puma Youth Alliance North West Conference, with Porter and fellow ex-Valiant Mark Grew coaching them. In recent years, the under-18s have gone from strength to strength, winning a number of youth tournaments with more players going onto to earn professional contracts in the first team.

2007-08 was particularly notable, as the under-18s won the Foyle Cup in pre-season, beating Bournemouth 1-0 in the final, before equalling the club record of reaching the quarter-final in the FA Youth Cup, including the giantkillings of Bolton and Tottenham. The youth team finished the season by winning the Midland Floodlit Youth Cup, beating Lincoln City 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Sincil Bank. [ [http://www.port-vale.premiumtv.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10381~1289765,00.html "Midland Youth Cup Final Match Report"] , port-vale.co.uk, 15 April 2008]

2008-09 began with the under-18s adding the Shrewsbury International Soccer Tournament to the trophy cabinet, beating Sutton Coldfield 3-0 in the final. [ [http://www.port-vale.premiumtv.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10381~1363010,00.html "Shrewsbury International Soccer Tournament Review"] , port-vale.co.uk, 11 August 2008]


*1876–1896 — Enoch Hood
*1896–1905 — Sam Gleaves
*1905–1911 — Tom Clare
*1911–1912 — A.S. Walker
*1912–1914 — H. Myatt
*1919–1924 — Tom Holford
*1924–1930 — Joe Schofield
*1930–1932 — Tom Morgan
*1932–1935 — Tom Holford
*1936–1937 — Warney Cresswell
*1937–1938 — Tom Morgan
*1945–1946 — Billy Frith
*1946–1951 — Gordon Hodgson
*1951–1957 — Freddie Steele
*1957–1962 — Norman Low
*1962–1965 — Freddie Steele
*1965–1967 — Stanley Matthews and Jackie Mudie
*1967–1968 — Stanley Matthews and Marc Stanway
*1968–1974 — Gordon Lee
*1974–1977 — Roy Sproson
*1977–1978 — Bobby Smith
*1978–1979 — Dennis Butler
*1979–1979 — Alan Bloor
*1979–1983 — John McGrath
*1983–1999 — John Rudge
*1999–2004 — Brian Horton
*2004–2007 — Martin Foyle
*2007–2008 — Lee Sinnott
*2008–present — Dean Glover


External links

* [http://www.port-vale.premiumtv.co.uk Official site]

succession box
before=Stoke City
title=Football League Trophy Winners
after=Swansea City
succession box
before=Stoke City
title=Football League Trophy Winners

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