We put Port Vale under the spotlight as we continue our look at the teams we’ll be playing against this season.
Nickname: The Valiants
Club Colours: White & Black
Who are they?
Founded in 1876, Port Vale were founding members of the Second Division in 1892. They were forced to resign from the league due to financial difficulties in the early 20th century, but returned in 1919. They spent most of their early years in the Third Division.
The 1950s saw a successful time for the Valiants, as they reached the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1954 while winning two league titles. They were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1958, becoming founding members in the process, but bounced back as Champions at the first attempt. Vale struggled, however, to climb any higher than the third tier.
Long-serving manager John Rudge saw an upturn in fortunes though, winning the Football League Trophy in 1993 and seeing the side climb as high as eighth in the second tier. But decline followed in the 21st century - the Valiants falling to the Fourth Division. They did climb back up to League One in 2013, but then suffered relegation in 2017.
Did You Know?
+ The club were once called Burslem Port Vale, but dropped the ‘Burslem’ from their name in 1907.
+ Port Vale hold the record for the most seasons in the Football League without playing top-flight football - 105.
+ Perhaps Port Vale’s most famous supporter is singer Robbie Williams, who even owned shares in the club until 2012.
How did they get on last season?
Port Vale suffered relegation from League One last season after a 21st place finish. Their pre-season plans were disrupted when manager Rob Page departed for Northampton with his replacement, Bruno Ribeiro, failing to deliver the required results. Michael Brown then took over the reigns but failed to clinch survival. Vale were relegated having finished just one point adrift of safety.
Who’s in charge?
Experienced player Michael Brown took his first steps into management when he took over at Port Vale midway through last season. The former Manchester City, Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder made over 550 appearances in a playing career spanning 20 years.
Port Vale were his final club, where he made 52 appearances before taking a seat in the dugout in 2016. He was confirmed as Vale’s permanent manager in the summer despite relegation last season.
How has their summer transfer business looked?
It’s been a busy summer at Vale Park, with Brown looking to strengthen his squad after 12 players were released at the end of last season. There have been three more departures, with Sam Foley, Sam Kelly and Ben Purkiss all making moves.
But the incomings all look promising. Fans’ favourite Tom Pope has returned while pacy attacker Christian Montano made the move from Bristol Rovers. More firepower has been added up top as Tyrone Barnett joined from AFC Wimbledon with Marcus Harness signing from Championship side Burton in another attacking move. Stopper Rob Lainton also put pen to paper and is joined by Sam Hornby, Rekeil Pyke, Joe Davis, Graham Kelly and Antony Kay.
They’ve Played For Both
Carlisle-born midfielder Mark Boyd spent time at Vale Park before his brief move to the North West. He began his career at Newcastle United before moving to the Valiants where he went on to make 42 appearances over two seasons. He moved to Brunton Park at the end of the 2003/04 campaign and made nine appearances under Paul Simpson, scoring once.
Winger Jeff Smith also made the move from Vale to United, after spending three years at Vale Park. He made 88 appearances for the Valiants, scoring five times, before switching to Brunton Park in 2007. His eighteen months at United brought 50 appearances and two goals.
Memorable Meeting - Carlisle 3-2 Port Vale (25 November 2006)
United completed a remarkable comeback during our first season back in League One as a late fight-back wrapped up three points. Paul Harsley and Jeff Smith handed the visitors a two-goal lead at the break, but Derek Holmes reduced the deficit just after the hour mark. Karl Hawley leveled things up with a fine improvised finish, before Peter Murphy’s header on 81 minutes completed the comeback.
When Did We Last Meet?
Our last meeting came early last season in the First Round of the EFL Cup, as United ran out victorious. First half strikes from Charlie Wyke and Shaun Miller put the Blues in control, with Anthony Grant’s second half merely a consolation for the visitors.
When Do We Meet Next?
Vale travel to Brunton Park on 16 December with the return trip to Burslem coming on 28 April in what is our last away game of the season.