1920–21 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1920–21 season
Chairman Frank Huntbach
Manager Joe Schofield
Stadium The Old Recreation Ground
Football League Second Division 17th (36 Points)
FA Cup Sixth Qualification Round
North Staffordshire Infirmary Cup Runners-up
Top goalscorer League: Bobby Blood (20)
All: Bobby Blood (20)
Highest home attendance 20,000 vs Rotherham County (11 September 1920) & Stoke (25 September 1920)
Lowest home attendance 10,000 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (27 November 1920) & Stockport County (11 December 1920) & Fulham (16 April 1921) & Birmingham (7 May 1921)
Average home league attendance 14,143+

The 1920–21 season was Port Vale's second consecutive season of football (15th overall) in the Football League,[1] the season peaked early with a double victory in the league over rivals Stoke, however any sense of euphoria evaporated in February with the sale of star striker Bobby Blood. The club failed to find another reliable goalscorer until the arrival of Wilf Kirkham in 1923, the Vale finished at the bottom end of the table, though they did finish higher in the league than Stoke for the first time in their history.

Chairman Frank Huntbach.
Wing half Tom Holford was past 40 and still going strong.
The sale of Bobby Blood brought in £4,000.
Joe Brough, 34, was another veteran.
Billy Briscoe was a key player.

Overview[edit]

Second Division[edit]

During the pre-season, manager-secretary Joe Schofield stated that: "the future policy of Port Vale is to go ahead",[1] he duly signed experienced full-back Bob Pursell, brother of Peter, from Liverpool.[1] The capacity of The Old Recreation Ground was increased to 30,000; mainly due to the fund raising activities of the Supporters' Club.[1] Of the 1919–20 squad, only William Aitken was let go, for a fee of £2,500 to Newcastle United,[1] that money helped to pay for £400 Tom Page from St Mirren, and right-half Freddy Price from Wolverhampton Wanderers.[1]

The season started positively enough; a 2–0 win over new club Leeds United helped to establish a start of six points from the opening six games.[1] On 25 September, the "Valiants" delighted their fans by recording their first league victory over rivals Stoke in 'a stirring duel' which ended 2–1,[1] the following week they achieved the double over Stoke by recording a 1–0 victory at the Victoria Ground.[1] This encouraged fans to travel in their numbers to see the team beat Nottingham Forest 4–1 at the City Ground.[1] Injuries to Price and Brough then saw the team slump, and this continued when new signing, Manchester City goalkeeper Walter Smith was arrested for assault on the day of his debut,[1] the arrest is likely to account for a majority of the six goals he conceded that day at South Shields.[1] The side recovered to record heavy victories over Hull City and Stockport County, with Bobby Blood scoring six of the Vale's ten goals in the two games.[1] Vale lost both their games to Bristol City, though Blood demonstrated his fearsome shooting power by blasting a penalty kick at City's keeper – the keeper saved the penalty to keep a clean sheet but broke his wrist in the process of saving the shot.[1] Blood was sold to West Bromwich Albion for £4,000 in February – then a club record for both clubs,[1] the effect on the pitch was telling, as Vale went on to record just two wins in their remaining sixteen games, with a meagre six goals scored.[1] One of the victories was a 'flash in the pan' win over FA Cup semi-finalists Cardiff City, Cardiff fielded a weakened team and watched in bewilderment as Page scored the winning goal from the penalty spot, stubbing his foot in the process.[1]

At the end of the season, Vale finished six points ahead of relegated Stockport County, but 22 points behind the promotion places. Only a handful of teams had lost fewer away matches than Vale, however Vale boasted fewer home wins than any other club in the league, and even with Blood in the side the club struggled to find goals.

A core of six players formed the spine of the team: Peter and Bob Pursell, with Tom Lyons in defence; Joe Brough at half-back; with Billy Briscoe and Tom Page in forward positions. Page contributed to the goals tally, but Blood was the sole hope in front of goal, racking up 20 goals in 25 league games before his transfer; in the addition to the Pursell brothers, Harry and John Johnstone also made sporadic appearances; in one match both the Pursell brothers and the Johnstone brothers took to the field.[1]

Finances[edit]

The issue of finance reared its head in September with an appeal for greater support from chairman Frank Huntbach,[1] the chairman emphasised the club's potential and pleaded for the remaining £4,500 worth of shares to be snapped up.[1] The Pursell brothers were so affected by the speech that they each bought £5 worth of shares,[1] the club later received a £70 boost when supporters bought copies of "The Port Vale War-Cry", though more significant was the elevated noise level as supporters sang the cry throughout matches.[1] Vale's weather-conscious supporters would turn up in their number during sunshine, but were somewhat unreliable during the winter,[1] the club were desperate to increase ground capacity but were already facing worrying financial times, despite the club debt falling to £800.[1] Though the sale of Blood raised considerable funds, fans were outraged, especially as Schofield and the directors refused to comment on the issue – Blood was apparently told by the club that either "[he] went or the club",[1] at the end of the season a £1,187 profit was recorded.[1]

Cup competitions[edit]

The club failed to qualify for the FA Cup, losing their qualification match with league rivals Clapton Orient,[1] the North Staffordshire Infirmary Cup went to Stoke, who claimed victory with a 5–3 win at The Old Recreation Ground.[1]

Final league table[edit]

Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A F A GA GD Pts
1 Birmingham 42 16 4 1 55 13 8 6 7 24 25 79 38 2.079 + 41 58
2 Cardiff City 42 13 5 3 27 9 11 5 5 32 23 59 32 1.844 + 27 58
3 Bristol City 42 14 3 4 35 12 5 10 6 14 17 49 29 1.690 + 20 51
4 Blackpool 42 12 3 6 32 19 8 7 6 22 23 54 42 1.286 + 12 50
5 West Ham United 42 13 5 3 38 11 6 5 10 13 19 51 30 1.700 + 19 48
6 Notts County 42 12 5 4 36 17 6 6 9 19 23 55 40 1.375 + 15 47
7 Clapton Orient 42 13 6 2 31 9 3 7 11 12 33 43 42 1.024 + 1 45
8 South Shields 42 13 4 4 41 16 4 6 11 20 30 61 46 .326 + 15 44
9 Fulham 42 14 4 3 33 12 2 6 13 10 35 43 47 0.915 – 4 42
10 The Wednesday 42 9 7 5 31 14 6 4 11 17 34 48 48 1.000 ± 0 41
11 Bury 42 10 8 3 29 13 5 2 14 16 36 45 49 0.918 – 4 40
12 Leicester City 42 10 8 3 26 11 2 8 11 13 35 39 46 0.848 – 7 40
13 Hull City 42 7 10 4 24 18 3 10 8 19 35 43 53 0.811 – 10 40
14 Leeds United 42 11 5 5 30 14 3 5 13 10 31 40 45 0.889 – 5 38
15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 11 4 6 34 24 5 2 14 15 42 49 66 0.742 – 17 38
16 Barnsley 42 9 10 2 31 17 1 6 14 17 33 48 50 0.960 – 12 36
17 Port Vale 42 7 6 8 28 19 4 8 9 15 30 43 49 0.878 – 6 36
18 Nottingham Forest 42 9 6 6 37 26 3 6 12 11 29 48 55 0.873 – 7 36
19 Rotherham County 42 8 9 4 23 21 4 3 14 14 32 37 53 0.698 – 16 36
20 Stoke 42 9 5 7 26 16 3 6 12 20 40 46 56 0.821 – 10 35
21 Coventry City 42 8 6 7 24 25 4 5 12 15 45 39 70 0.557 – 31 35
22 Stockport County 42 8 6 7 30 24 1 6 14 12 51 42 75 0.560 – 33 30

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against;
GA = Goal average; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Results[edit]

Port Vale's score comes first

Legend[edit]

Win Draw Loss
Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42
Ground H A A H H A H A A H A H A H A H A H H A H H A A H H A H A H A H A A H A H A A H A H
Result W D L D D D W W W L L L D W D L D W L L W W L L W L W L L D D D W L D L D D D L L L
Position 1 3 10 10 8 11 10 5 4 5 10 13 15 11 10 10 12 9 12 15 14 11 13 13 12 15 12 14 15 15 15 16 11 13 12 13 17 15 14 15 15 17

Sourced from Statto.[2]

Football League Second Division[edit]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
28 August 1920 Leeds United H 2–0 15,000 Page, Blood
30 August 1920 Coventry City A 0–0 20,000
4 September 1920 Leeds United A 1–3 16,000 Blood
6 September 1920 Coventry City H 0–0 12,000
11 September 1920 Rotherham County H 1–1 20,000 Blood
18 September 1920 Rotherham County A 1–1 12,000 Brough
25 September 1920 Stoke H 2–1 20,000 Page, Briscoe
2 October 1920 Stoke A 1–0 26,500 Blood
9 October 1920 Nottingham Forest A 4–1 15,000 Blood (2), Page, Briscoe
16 October 1920 Nottingham Forest H 0–1 17,000
23 October 1920 South Shields A 1–6 18,000 Blood
30 October 1920 South Shields H 0–2 15,000
6 November 1920 Hull City A 1–1 12,000 Wootton
13 November 1920 Hull City H 4–0 15,000 Blood (2 [1 pen]), Page, Price
20 November 1920 Wolverhampton Wanderers A 2–2 16,000 Blood (pen), Briscoe
27 November 1920 Wolverhampton Wanderers H 2–3 10,000 Fitchford, Blood (pen)
4 December 1920 Stockport County A 0–0 8,000
11 December 1920 Stockport County H 6–1 10,000 Blood (4 [1 pen]), Holford, Page
25 December 1920 Bristol City H 0–2 16,000
27 December 1920 Bristol City A 0–3 34,710
1 January 1921 Clapton Orient H 4–0 12,000 Blood (2), Wootton, Page
15 January 1921 The Wednesday H 1–0 12,000 Blood (pen)
22 January 1921 The Wednesday A 0–1 20,000
29 January 1921 Bury A 0–1 10,000
5 February 1921 Bury H 3–0 12,000 Blood (2), Fitchford
12 February 1921 Notts County H 1–2 16,000 Page
19 February 1921 Notts County A 1–0 14,000 Page
26 February 1921 Blackpool H 0–1 18,000
5 March 1921 Blackpool A 0–1 7,000
12 March 1921 Leicester City H 0–0 15,000
19 March 1921 Leicester City A 0–0 15,000
25 March 1921 Barnsley H 1–1 13,000 Fitchford
26 March 1921 Cardiff City A 2–1 30,000 Cartledge, Page
28 March 1921 Barnsley A 0–3 12,000
2 April 1921 Cardiff City H 0–0 17,000
9 April 1921 Fulham A 0–1 18,000
16 April 1921 Fulham H 0–0 10,000
23 April 1921 West Ham United A 1–1 20,000 Johnstone
25 April 1921 Clapton Orient A 0–0 15,000
30 April 1921 West Ham United H 1–2 12,000 Perry
2 May 1921 Birmingham A 0–4 35,000
7 May 1921 Birmingham H 0–2 10,000

FA Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
6Q 18 December 1920 Clapton Orient A 0–1 16,000

North Staffordshire Infirmary Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
Final 9 May 1921 Stoke H 3–5 3,500 Briscoe (2), Hayes

Player statistics[edit]

Transfers[edit]

Transfers in[edit]

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
May 1920 DF England Len Birks Butt Lane Star Free transfer [3]
June 1920 FW England Albert Hayes Liverpool Badgers Free transfer [3]
June 1920 FW England Tom Page Scotland St Mirren £400 [3]
July 1920 DF England Frank Simon Crewe Alexandra Free transfer [3]
August 1920 MF England Freddy Price Wolverhampton Wanderers Free transfer [3]
September 1920 MF England Arthur Poole Mossley Free transfer [3]
October 1920 GK England Walter Smith Manchester City 'modest' [3]
November 1920 FW England Frank Cartledge Ravensdale Mission Free transfer [3]
December 1920 MF England Frank Newman Aston Villa Free transfer [3]
February 1921 FW England William Wilson Portsmouth Free transfer [3]
March 1921 FW Scotland Andrew Livingstone Scotland Bathgate Free transfer [3]

Transfers out[edit]

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
February 1921 FW England Bobby Blood West Bromwich Albion £4,000 [3]
May 1921 DF England Percy Ellis Walsall Released [3]
Summer 1921 GK England Jonathan Hammond Released [3]
Summer 1921 MF England James Hill Shrewsbury Town Released [3]
Summer 1921 FW Scotland Andrew Livingstone Scotland Vale of Leven Released [3]
Summer 1921 MF England Arthur McGarry Reading Released [3]
Summer 1921 MF England Frank Newman Exeter City Released [3]
Summer 1921 MF England Ernest Perry Bradford City Free transfer [3]
Summer 1921 MF England Arthur Poole Released [3]
Summer 1921 MF England Freddy Price Newport County Released [3]
Summer 1921 FW England William Wilson Walsall Released [3]

References[edit]

Specific
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Kent, Jeff (1990). "Keeping in Good Company (1919-1929)". The Valiants' Years The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 98–123. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7. 
  2. ^ Port Vale 1920–1921 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
General
  • Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879-1993. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8.