Rovers travel to Port Vale on Tuesday 1st Feb for the return game against the Valiants.

Vale Park is in the town of Burslem, one of the six towns which make up Stoke On Trent.  The journey by road from Nailsworth is usually just over 2 hours (about 110 miles) Post Code for SAT NAV: ST6 1AW.  There is a fair sized car park located outside the away end (Car Park C) which costs £5 (pay on the day), otherwise there is street parking, though this gets a bit limited as you get closer to the ground.

Rail travel would be to Stoke (4 miles away from Burslem) but you won’t be able to get back on the same day so unlikely to be a choice.

There is a bar just outside the away turnstiles (The Vale Social, also called Tommy Cheadles) which welcomes both home and away fans and which is open from 5 p.m.  Burslem centre is close by but a number of the pubs don’t welcome away fans.  However, The Bull in St Johns Square is recommended by travelling supporters and real ale fans.  There are kiosks in all of the ground’s stands.

Tickets can be bought at the booth near the away end and cost;

Adults £22
Aged 62 & over £17
Under 22’s £17
Under 18’s £10
Under 12’s Free

Ground Layout of Port Vale

Vale Park has a capacity of just over 19,000, with up to 4,500 in the away end.  Average attendances are usually about 5,000 in total.  The away stand, also known as the Hamil Road Stand is behind one of the goals and is pretty good for atmosphere.

There were quite a few changes to Vale’s 1st team squad for this season – many players released and signed.  This showed in their early games as Vale started the season slowly.  However, by mid-November, they had climbed to 2nd in the league.  Since then things have taken a dip – 3 wins, 1 draw & 5 defeats in their last 9 games have seen them in 9th place with 39 points from 25 games.

They have had their fair share of injuries recently – James Gibbons, arguably one of their best players this season, went off after 8 minutes in their last outing against Leyton Orient with a hamstring tear; striker Tom Conlon has been out with an achilles injury; Devante Rodney: (last season’s top scorer and young player of the year) has an unknown injury, possibly a long-standing heel complaint; Jamie Proctor (Vale’s 2nd top scorer with 6 goals) is recovering from stomach surgery.  Vale were only able to name 5 substitutes for their game against Leyton Orient which they drew 0-0, but they will have been encouraged by a 1-0 home win against Scunthorpe last time out.

Vale fans are beginning to question recently whether the team have enough to challenge for the play-offs (but they are currently only 3 points adrift of the play-off places, with at least 1 game in hand on all of their rivals).  The hope is that they can recruit in January to bolster the squad.

Vale are managed by former Bristol Rovers manager, Darrell Clarke.  Clarke managed Bristol Rovers between March 2014 and December 2018.  He moved to manage Walsall but only stayed for about 18 months before making a shock move to local rivals Port Vale in February 2021.  Former Swindon & Mansfield manager David Flitcroft is Director of Football at Vale.

Clarke’s arrival saw a strong return to form in the latter part of last season – they became one of the league’s form sides from March until the end of the season.

Vale manager Darrell Clarke is hoping to restore the club’s fortunes.

Vale’s top scorer this season is their left-sided midfielder Ben Garrity (number 8).  Garrity has scored 7 times this season.

Likely to be leading the line is James Wilson (number 9).  Wilson started his career with Man Utd (spending 10 years at the club before signing his 1st pro contract at 17) and has also represented England at u-16, u-19, u-20 and u-21 levels before spells at Brighton, Aberdeen and Salford.  He joined Vale last summer and, now aged 26, has netted 4 times in his 19 appearances this season.

Vale were boosted recently with the loans of 2 young strikers, Ryan Edmondson from Leeds (number 29) and Kian Harratt from Huddersfield (number 24).

Ben Garrity has earned ‘man of the match’ plaudits and is Vale’s top scorer this season.

Jamie Proctor (number 13) may be a doubt to start against Rovers.

When Vale came to Nailsworth at the end of August they were 2-0 ahead after 9 minutes and went on to win the game 2-0.  Both strikes were from their number 13, striker Jamie Proctor.  Proctor has been recovering from stomach surgery – more news on his recovery is expected this week.  Proctor has been plagued by injuries during his career, so this is a setback.  Rovers may not be unhappy if Proctor’s recovery isn’t quite complete by next Tuesday!

Carol and Kevin Shanahan took over as Port Vale’s owners in May 2019 and the atmosphere at the club is now much more optimistic than before their arrival.

What else can we say about Port Vale?

  • Nicknamed ‘The Valiants’, Port Vale are one of only 3 EFL clubs that aren’t named after a geographical location.  Their name is a reference to the valley of ports on the Trent & Mersey canal.
  • The ‘Great Pottery Throw Down’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ have both been filmed at nearby Middleport Pottery on the Trent & Mersey canal.
  • The club is in Burslem near Stoke on Trent, one of the 5 towns of The Potteries.
  • The club crest features 2 Portland Vases representing the association with Josiah Wedgewood, and a Staffordshire knot.
  • Veteran striker Tom Pope (35) used to make headlines with his use of social media when he played for Vale (he retired last summer).  He once claimed he would score 40 goals a season if he played against Man City defender John Stones every week.  He revised this to 50 goals a season after he scored against City in their FA Cup tie in January 2020.  During his career he served 2 separate one-match bans for his comments on Twitter.
  • Vale’s most famous fans are Robbie Williams and former world darts champion Phil (‘The Power’) Taylor.  Taylor is Burslem born and bred, won the World Darts Championship 16 times, and is regarded as the best darts player ever.
  • Port Vale’s traditional local rivals have been Stoke City but, more recently, since Stoke and Port Vale have been in different divisions, games against Crewe Alexandra have been a bigger rivalry.
  • Port Vale supporters produce 3 unofficial fanzines, The Memoirs of Seth Bottomley, the Vale Park Beano, and Derek I’m Gutted!
  • Vale have played 109 seasons in the football league without ever reaching the top tier (this is a record!).  41 of these seasons have been played in football’s 2nd tier.
  • Some of Vale’s more vociferous supporters are called the VLF.  VLF stands for Vale Legendary Failures!

Famous Vale fan Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor.

Robbie is from Burslem!

Boomer the dog is Vale’s (apparently very popular) mascot.