Port Vale F.C.
Port Vale Football Club is a professional association football club based in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England. The team compete in League One, the tier of the English football league system. Port Vale is one of the few English league clubs not to be named after a location, their name being a reference to the valley of ports on the Trent. They were founder members of the Second Division in 1892 and of the Fourth Division in 1958 and they have never played top-flight football, and hold the record for the most seasons in the English Football League without reaching the top tier. After playing at the Athletic Ground in Cobridge and The Old Recreation Ground in Hanley, outside the ground is a statue to Roy Sproson, who played 842 competitive games for the club. John Rudge was manager from 1983 to 1999, under his leadership the club lifted the Football League Trophy in 1993, since his reign the club have declined, slipping into the fourth tier whilst entering twice administration in 2003 and 2012. The decline was arrested when Norman Smurthwaite brought the club out of administration in 2012, the clubs traditional rivals are Stoke City, and games between the two are known as the Potteries derby. However, the story given on the club website is that Port Vale F. C. was formed in 1876, following a meeting at Port Vale House. They played their football at Limekiln Lane, Longport and from 1880 at Westport, the club moved to Burslem in 1884, changing its name to Burslem Port Vale in the process, they played at Moorland Road before moving into the Athletic Ground in 1885. In 1892 the club were members of the Football League Second Division. The club dropped Burslem from their name in 1907 – a dark time of financial difficulties where the club were forced to resign from the league, the club were relegated for the first time during the 1928–29 season, going from the Second Division to the Third Division North. They came up the season as champions. In the 1930–31 season they placed fifth in the tier of English football. After this peak, the club were again relegated in the 1935–36 season. In 1950, Vale Park was completed, the fifth ground. Steele quickly established himself at the club, masterminding the celebrated Iron Curtain defence, three years later, the club were once again relegated, and once again became founder members of a league – this time the Football League Fourth Division. In their first season in new division the club took the title with a club record 110 goals. During the 1960s, the Vale fans witnessed numerous good cup runs, in 1967, Stanley Matthews took over, his reign ended in tears in 1968 as Vale were expelled from the Football League over seemingly illegal payments made to players
John Robert Rudge is an English former football player and football manager. His playing career began at Huddersfield Town in November 1961, in January 1969 he joined Torquay United, and twice finished as the clubs top scorer, before he moved on to Bristol Rovers in February 1972. He helped the club to win promotion of the Third Division in 1973–74 and his time on the coast was disrupted by injury, and he retired in 1977. He scored a total of 79 goals in 230 league and cup appearances in a career in the Football League. He managed Port Vale for a period between 1983 and 1999, easily the longest spell in the clubs history. However he was sacked in January 1999, and subsequently was appointed director of football at their rivals – Stoke City, born and raised in Wolverhampton, Rudge became a lifelong fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers. However he turned professional at Second Division club Huddersfield Town in November 1961 and he made his debut under manager Eddie Boot in the 1962–63 campaign, and was given the residence of the recently departed Denis Law. He did not feature in 1963–64, appeared just twice in 1964–65 and he played two games at the start of the 1966–67 season, before manager Tom Johnston allowed him a move to Second Division rivals Carlisle United in December 1967. Rudge made an impact at Brunton Park, scoring seven goals in 14 appearances, as Tim Wards Cumbrians finished third in 1966–67. Over the course of the 1967–68 campaign he scored nine goals in 29 league and cup games and he made just five goalless appearances in 1968–69, and in January 1969 manager Bob Stokoe handed him a free transfer to Torquay United of the Third Division. He found the net just twice in 14 appearances before the end of the campaign for Allan Browns Gulls and he then found his form in 1969–70, finishing as the clubs top scorer with 16 goals in 35 league and cup matches. He continued to find the net in 1970–71, hitting 21 goals in 43 appearances. However he scored just twice in 12 games in 1971–72, as the club suffered relegation under Jack Edwards, Rudge escaped this fate as he left Plainmoor in February 1972, signing a contract with Bill Dodgins Bristol Rovers. After three goals in eight games towards the end of the campaign, Rudge hit 12 goals in 29 appearances in 1972–73, the Pirates achieved their goal in 1973–74, as they finished runners-up of the Third Division, however Rudge played only 15 games, scoring five goals. He featured just three times in 1974–75, and moved on to John Bensons Bournemouth in March 1975, Rudge played seven games for the Cherries, and could not prevent them from being relegated into the Fourth Division at the end of the campaign. He missed most of the 1975–76 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and his career was ended at age 32, owing to his Achilles tendon injury. He had scored a total of 79 goals in 230 appearances in all competitions, following his retirement as a player, Rudge was made a coach at old club Torquay United. In January 1980 he was appointed as a coach at Port Vale, Rudge was promoted to the position of assistant manager in December 1980
Vale Park is a football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England. It is the ground of Port Vale F. C. who have played at the ground since 1950. At 520 feet above sea level it is the eleventh highest ground in the country, the pitch is clay underneath the grass, rather than sand. These two factors make the pitch vulnerable to freezing temperatures, there is also a coal seam under the pitch, and numerous mine shafts dotted around the local area, including many under the park opposite the ground. The Vale Park pitch is one of the widest in the Football League, the head groundsman since September 1992 is Steve Speed. He was one of three nominated for the League Two Groundsmen of the Year award in 2009. Denis Dawson was head groundsman from 1966 to 1975, he succeeded Len Parton and was followed by Graham Mainwaring. Following the club being informed that they would be evicted from The Old Recreation Ground by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, plans for a new stadium in a new area began to be made. In 1944 Hamil Road – the site of a clay pit – was chosen, a site opposite Burslem Park. The development became known as The Wembley of the North due to the size of the stadium. The clubs leadership had not allowed the third tier status or their lack of money to curb their ambition. Life-time seats were sold for £100 but fewer than 100 fans bought them, also costing £100, the pitch was the most expensive ever laid in the country at the time. The ground opened in 1950 having eventually cost £50,000, the original ground consisted of just two stands with banks of terracing at the Bycars and Hamil ends of the ground. The first match was a 1–0 victory over Newport County on 24 August 1950 in front of 30,196 rain-soaked spectators, walter Aveyard took the honour of being the first to score at the ground. On the same day the name was revealed for the first time – Vale Park. Vale Park initially had problems with drainage, leaving many games of the 1950–51 to be postponed, the problem was finally resolved in summer 1960, when new drains were installed to help ease the winter mud spots. In summer 1951,578 seats were installed on the Railway Terrace, in 1954 the Railway Stand was built, as capacity gradually increased to 50,000 by the end of the decade. On 24 September 1958, Vale Park saw its first match under the new £17,000 floodlights, in summer 1973, the club erected a 2.5 feet high steel fence around the Bycars End to help combat hooliganism
Port Vale F.C. Player of the Year
The Port Vale Player of the Year award is voted for annually by Port Vales supporters in recognition of the best overall performance by an individual player throughout the football season. Towards the end of season, fans are invited to cast their votes for this award. The inaugural award was made to Roy Sproson in 1967, david Harris, Ray Walker, Mark Grew, Neil Aspin, and Martin Foyle have all won two awards during their time at Vale Park. Foyle also went on to manage the club, no player has won the award more than twice. Eamonn OKeefe and Anthony Griffith represented Ireland and Montserrat respectively at international level, tom Pope, winner in 2013, stated that To be voted for by the fans like this is a massive honour for me. It means such a lot, more than the other awards Ive been lucky enough to win, specific General Kent, Jeff, Port Vale Personalities, Witan Books, ISBN 0-9529152-0-0
Mark Stuart Grew is an English former football goalkeeper and coach. His career started in 1976 with West Bromwich Albion, where he spent seven seasons as a back-up keeper before moving on to Leicester City, after just a year with the Foxes he moved on to Ipswich Town. In 1986 he signed for Port Vale, where he became the first choice goalkeeper and he spent six years at Vale Park, making almost 200 league appearances, twice winning the clubs Player of the Year award and playing in the 1989 Third Division play-off victory. He transferred to Cardiff City in 1992, and won the Third Division title with the club in 1992–93 and his final club was Hednesford Town, whom he signed for in 1994, and left in 1995. Over the years he enjoyed short loan spells with Wigan Athletic, Oldham Athletic, Fulham. He remained in the game after retirement as a player, spending eight years as a coach at Port Vale before his sacking in 2002 and he quickly returned to his coaching position at the club though, and remains a key member of the backroom staff. He has had three spells as caretaker-manager at the club. During the 1978–79 campaigned he was loaned out to Fourth Division newcomers Wigan Athletic, where he played four league games in the absence of John Brown. He returned to The Hawthorns, and played 33 league games for the Baggies as he faced competition from Tony Godden, before he joined Leicester City, also of the First Division and he spent two seasons with the Tractor Boys, but played just six league games. He also played four Second Division games on loan at Fulham in 1985, in June 1986, he joined Third Division Port Vale, aged 28 years old, he was looking for first team football. His debut for the club came in a 2–2 draw against Middlesbrough at Victoria Park, after he sustained an injury in the game, he suffered from damaged knee ligaments for much of the 1986–87 season. However Alex Williams retired from injury in September 1987. As Grew took the #1 jersey he never looked back and played fifty games in 1987–88, Grew was then voted the clubs Player of the Year for his performances over his 49 games in 1988–89. He played both legs of Vales play-off Final victory over Bristol Rovers, conceding just the one goal and he played 51 games in 1989–90, as Vale retained their Second Division status. However he losing his place to Trevor Wood in August 1990 and he won his first team spot back at Vale in February 1991, and played fourteen games for the Valiants in 1990–91. He became the clubs Player of the Year once more in 1992 for his ever-presence in the 53 game 1991–92 season, however he left on a free transfer for Cardiff City in May 1992. He was between the posts for Cardiff City when they beat Manchester City 1–0 in the FA Cup Fourth Round on 29 January 1994 and he became an instant hero with the Cardiff supporters after saving a penalty from Keith Curle. He joined non-League side Hednesford Town in 1994 after leaving Cardiff and he was a shot-stopping goalkeeper, who mostly remained on his line and relied on his defenders to deal with crosses