1925–26 Port Vale F.C. season
|Stadium||The Old Recreation Ground|
|Football League Second Division||8th (44 Points)|
|FA Cup||Third Round|
League: Wilf Kirkham (35)|
All: Wilf Kirkham (35)
|Highest home attendance||19,997 vs. Stoke City (31 August 1925)|
|Lowest home attendance||5,207 vs. Nottingham Forest (12 April 1926)|
|Average home league attendance||10,739|
The 1925–26 season was Port Vale's seventh consecutive season of football (20th overall) in the Football League. They improved on their previous season's success by two points. They finished in a higher league position than rivals Stoke City for only the second time in their history, and with Stoke relegated in 21st place, they guaranteed playing in a higher league than Stoke for the first time in their history. With seven games left to play, April 1926 would be arguably the club's best ever chance at reaching the top flight, however they tallied just two points from their remaining games to finish in eighth place. Despite all of this, the Vale board proposed a merger with Stoke City, and were forced to resign en-masse when the scheme failed.
A tale of two teams, their home record was the fourth strongest in the division; however away from home they recorded just four victories. The key performer was Wilf Kirkham by quite some distance, who racked up a club record 35 Football League goal tally that only he himself would better.
The pre-season was quiet, with all the club satisfied with the staff and players of the previous campaign. The game itself was changed by the offside rule being modified so that two defenders, rather than three, had to be between the attackers and the goal in order to spring the offside trap – this would have significant beneficial consequences for young forward Wilf Kirkham.
The season started with two wins, the second being a 3–0 home win over cross-town rivals Stoke. This was followed by a demolition job by Chelsea, who adapted to the new offside rule with a new 'W formation' – to devastating effects. The "Valiants" recovered quickly with another 3–0 win over Stoke – Kirkham scoring five of the six derby goals over the two matches. Following a poor display against Hull City, the Vale changed their defensive formation to better combat the new tactics used to exploit the new offside rule. They also dropped their short-passing attacking game in favour of a long ball system that utilized the wings, this resulted in a 6–1 rout of Darlington. Offers came in for a number of Vale's talent, all of which were rejected.
During the mid-season Vale suffered indifferent form, winning at home but losing away. The cold weather was blamed for the low crowds, and the selling of players was considered. Kirkham's form also suffered, as Vale found difficulty in finding the net. In January the club celebrated its Golden Jubilee, this established 1876 as their founding date despite some doubts over the exact year of the club's founding. On the pitch, the club went down 4–0 at Darlington. This defeat was followed by a sequence of seven wins in eight games, including a 5–0 win over Blackpool thanks to four goals from Alfred Strange. The team also picked up two rare away wins, including a 2–0 victory at eventual champions The Wednesday. However in March, young right-back Tom Cooper was sold to eventual promotion-winners Derby County for £2,500. Cooper would later play for Liverpool and England.
In fourth position, four points from the promotion zone, on a tremendous run of form, hopes were high for the club's first ever promotion to the top-flight. This hope was crushed with two points from their final seven games, their 1–0 defeat at home Fulham would have significant consequences for neighbours Stoke, who would have avoided relegation if the Vale had recorded a draw.
All positive thoughts were totally extinguished on 16 April 1926, when the Port Vale directors announced that they had agreed in principle to an amalgamation with Stoke City. Chairman Walker stated that low attendances and high wages meant Port Vale had probably reached their zenith, and a merger with City would allow one Stoke-on-Trent club to perform better than Port Vale ever could. Vale fans did not share his view, and organized themselves in Hanley and Burslem to deliver a message that they would not support the proposed new club. On 19 May the Stoke directors backed out of the discussions, leaving the Vale directors and chairman to resign in failure.
New chairman Frank Huntbach took over in May 1926 at a time of relative financial stability. He discovered a £1,950 profit had been made on the season, though may have been concerned that gate receipts had fallen £1,302 despite a campaign that took the club close to promotion.
In the FA Cup, Vale were handed a home tie in the Third Round against First Division Manchester United. A hard fought contest, Vale lost 3–2 in front of a disappointing crowd of 14,841, raising £1,150 in gate receipts. United would go on to the semi-finals, where they would lose 3–0 to derby rivals, and eventual runners-up, Manchester City.
Final league table
|1||The Wednesday||42||19||0||2||61||17||8||6||7||27||31||88||48||1.833||+ 40||60|
|2||Derby County||42||17||2||2||57||17||8||5||8||20||25||77||42||1.833||+ 35||57|
|4||Wolverhampton Wanderers||42||15||4||2||55||15||6||3||12||29||45||84||60||1.400||+ 24||49|
|5||Swansea Town||42||13||6||2||50||16||6||5||10||27||41||77||57||1.351||+ 20||49|
|7||Oldham Athletic||42||14||4||3||52||24||4||4||13||22||38||74||62||1.194||+ 12||44|
|8||Port Vale||42||15||3||3||53||18||4||3||14||26||51||79||69||1.145||+ 10||44|
|9||South Shields||42||11||6||4||50||29||7||2||12||24||36||74||65||1.138||+ 9||44|
|12||Preston North End||42||17||2||2||54||28||1||5||15||17||56||71||84||0.845||– 13||43|
|13||Hull City||42||11||4||6||40||19||5||5||11||23||42||63||61||1.033||+ 2||41|
|16||Bradford City||42||9||5||7||28||26||4||5||12||19||40||47||66||0.712||– 19||36|
|17||Nottingham Forest||42||11||4||6||38||25||3||4||14||13||48||51||73||0.699||– 22||36|
|20||Clapton Orient||42||8||6||7||30||21||4||3||14||20||44||50||65||0.769||– 15||33|
|21||Stoke City||42||8||5||8||32||23||4||3||14||22||54||54||77||0.701||– 23||32|
|22||Stockport County||42||8||7||6||34||28||0||2||19||17||69||51||97||0.526||– 46||25|
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
Port Vale's score comes first
Sourced from Statto.
Football League Second Division
|29 August 1925||Clapton Orient||A||2–1||16,854||Kirkham (2)|
|31 August 1925||Stoke City||H||3–0||19,997||Kirkham (2 [1 pen]), Strange|
|5 September 1925||Chelsea||H||0–6||12,801|
|7 September 1925||Stoke City||A||3–0||21,869||Kirkham (3)|
|12 September 1925||Hull City||A||0–3||12,523|
|14 September 1925||Barnsley||H||3–0||7,277||Strange, Kirkham (pen), Briscoe|
|19 September 1925||Darlington||H||6–1||5,841||Kirkham (4), Strange, Briscoe|
|26 September 1925||Blackpool||A||2–2||9,502||Briscoe, Maddock (pen)|
|3 October 1925||Southampton||H||1–1||12,589||Kirkham|
|10 October 1925||Nottingham Forest||A||0–2||10,642|
|17 October 1925||Oldham Athletic||A||2–3||7,924||Page, Kirkham|
|24 October 1925||Stockport County||H||2–0||9,954||Maddock (pen), Kirkham|
|31 October 1925||Swansea Town||A||0–1||15,612|
|7 November 1925||The Wednesday||H||4–3||6,862||Kirkham (2), Strange, Lowe|
|14 November 1925||Preston North End||A||0–4||17,681|
|21 November 1925||Middlesbrough||H||4–0||9,336||Kirkham (3), Strange|
|28 November 1925||Portsmouth||A||2–3||12,198||Tempest (2)|
|5 December 1925||Wolverhampton Wanderers||H||3–0||8,364||Kirkham (2), Page|
|12 December 1925||Fulham||A||3–3||11,452||Connelly, Page, Strange|
|19 December 1925||South Shields||H||2–0||8,794||Strange, Maddock (pen)|
|25 December 1925||Derby County||H||0–1||15,355|
|26 December 1925||Derby County||A||0–2||23,784|
|1 January 1926||Barnsley||A||0–3||6,804|
|2 January 1926||Clapton Orient||H||4–2||8,070||Strange (3), Maddock (pen)|
|16 January 1926||Chelsea||A||1–3||15,568||Page|
|23 January 1926||Hull City||H||3–1||7,579||Lowe, Connelly, Kirkham|
|30 January 1926||Darlington||A||0–4||8,791|
|6 February 1926||Blackpool||H||5–0||9,027||Strange (4), Page|
|13 February 1926||Southampton||A||3–2||10,865||Page, Strange, Kirkham|
|27 February 1926||Oldham Athletic||H||3–0||11,719||Kirkham (2), Page|
|6 March 1926||Stockport County||A||2–2||7,889||Page, Kirkham|
|13 March 1926||Swansea Town||H||3–0||19,030||Kirkham, Page, Strange|
|20 March 1926||The Wednesday||A||2–0||24,965||Strange, Kirkham|
|27 March 1926||Preston North End||H||3–0||13,531||Kirkham (3)|
|2 April 1926||Bradford City||H||2–0||15,984||Kirkham, Lowe|
|3 April 1926||Middlesbrough||A||1–3||10,231||Lowe|
|5 April 1926||Bradford City||A||0–2||9,281|
|10 April 1926||Portsmouth||H||1–1||8,932||Kirkham|
|12 April 1926||Nottingham Forest||H||1–1||5,207||Lowe|
|17 April 1926||Wolverhampton Wanderers||A||1–3||10,549||Briscoe|
|24 April 1926||Fulham||H||0–1||9,262|
|1 May 1926||South Shields||A||2–5||3,027||Kirkham, Oakes|
|R3||9 January 1926||Manchester United||H||2–3||14,841||Maddock (pen), Page|
|June 1925||DF||Billy Wootton||Congleton Town||Free transfer|||
|August 1925||MF||Herbert Smith||Littleworth||Free transfer|||
|December 1925||MF||Harold Salt||Ravensdale||Free transfer|||
|March 1926||DF||Tom Cooper||Derby County||£2,500|||
|Summer 1926||MF||Ernest Collinge||Released|||
|Summer 1926||FW||Joe Pointon||Luton Town||Released|||
|Summer 1926||MF||Harold Salt||Released|||
|Summer 1926||MF||Billy Tempest||Retired|||
|Summer 1926||GK||Robert Wallis||Released|||
- 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.
- Port Vale 1925–1926 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.