League two previews: Port Vale

Jun 1, 2021 | News

Games against Port Vale next season give Rovers an opportunity to meet up with former manager Darrell Clarke again, though we did see him twice last season in EFL Trophy and FA Cup ties against Walsall.

Another connection at Vale Park is, of course, former Rovers striker John Rudge. A former Vale manager, he was in charge for 843 games before his sacking in January 1999.

He moved to local rivals Stoke City as Director of Football, having turned down that role at Vale Park. He remained at the Britannia Stadium in May 2013 and in October 2017 returned to Vale in an advisory capacity and was appointed as club president in August 2019.

The clubs first met in the final pre war season, 1838/39 when Vale won both league games, 1-0 at Eastville on 7th January 1939 and 2-1 at Vale Park on 1st April that same year.

Overall, there have been 58 league meetings, with Vale having won 23, Rovers 19 and there have been 16 draws.

Vale have won two of the three FA Cup meetings and it’s honours even in the League Cup, with one win each and one draw. Vale, of course, came out on top in the two legged Division Three play off final in 1998/99.

Rovers triumphed when we last met, in the EFL Trophy on 22nd January 2019, when goals from Tom Nichols, Ollie Clarke and Alex Rodman gave Graham Coughlan’s side a 3-0 win in front of a Memorial Stadium crowd of 2,016.

Season 1962/63, when both clubs were in the Third Division, the clubs met four times, twice in league games, once in the League Cup and once in the FA Cup.

Last season ended with Vale in 13th place with 60 points. They won nine games at home, drew five and lost nine.

Vale Park has been Port Vale’s home since 1950 and the current capacity is just over 19,000, though they did manage to squeeze in almost 50,000 for an FA Cup tie against Aston Villa in 1960 (before the advent of elf and safety!). The ground is a mere 128 miles from The Mem.


(The Roy Sproson statue outside of Vale Park. Sproson appeared in 760 league games for the club and later became manager.

As well as Darrell Clarke and John Rudge another former Vale manager, Martin Foyle, has a Rovers connection as he was assistant to Dave Penney at The Mem back in 2011.

Former Rovers player Cristian Montano signed for Vale on leaving BS7 in 2017 and has since scored 12 goals in 118 league appearances. A regular in the side last season, he was red carded in the game against Grimsby Town on 1st May.

Other to have played for both clubs include Kelle Roos, Peter Beadle, Liam Burns, Kevin Gall, Lewis Haldane, Daniel Jones, Chris Lines, Kaid Mohamed, Byron Moore, Tim Parkin, Bob Newton, Tony Sealy, Justin Richards, Gareth Taylor and Callum Willock.

Darrell Clarke also played for Port Vale, though it was brief! He appeared in one league game for the club when on loan at Vale Park from Hartlepool in 2005. Tommy Widdrington, elevated to Board member and Director of Football at Rovers last season, also played six games for Vale in 2005.

As for memorable games against Vale, I think I would have to plump for the 1-1 draw at vale Park on the opening day of the 2007/08 season when a late Andy Williams goal, scored on his debut, gave Rovers a share of the spoils.

Rovers players who have made their debut against Port Vale are; Charles Windle (1946/47), Harold Cranfield (1947/48), David Hudd (1964/65), David Pipe & Andy Williams (both 2007/08), Alefe Santos (2012/13), and Jonny Byrne & Robert Harris (both 2016/17).

Keith Brookman