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Port Vale come to TNL on the 28th August.  Vale finished last season firmly mid-table in 13th place.  Both of last season’s encounters between the 2 sides ended in 1-1 draws. 




Port Vale started this season with a defeat at Northampton followed by draws against Tranmere, Carlisle & Stevenage.  They have only managed only 1 goal in these 4 games, a Devante Rodney strike against Stevenage.

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.  This was a far cry from the early part of the season when a summariser, after a 4-0 defeat to Mansfield, described their performance – ‘Since I’ve been writing these pieces I’ve always tried to find at least one positive note to feature. Not this time. That was just a woeful performance from Port Vale FC. The defence was dreadful and could have shipped more than four but Vale were second-best all across the pitch. The side had just two half-chances to show for ninety minutes’ work and things are starting to look really worrying. If this bleak form continues, the Valiants are going to face a battle to survive in League Two.  It goes without saying that this was not the start to 2021 that we wanted.’

Vale generally played with freedom away from home last season – about as many points and goals on the road as they mustered at Vale Park.  

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

Tom Pope – Vale’s veteran number 9 and leading post-war goalscorer has been released by Vale.

Devante Rodney’s free transfer from Salford at the start of last season has paid dividends for both him and for Port Vale. The 23 year old, who wears number 21, was Vale’s leading scorer last season with 12 goals and was their young player of the year.  But Rovers also need to be wary of Vale’s captain and number 7, Tom Conlon, was Vale’s second top scorer.  Conlon and his team-mate David Worrall also provided a very healthy 19 assists last season.  Veteran striker Tom Pope, 35, was released by the club in the close season.  Pope scored 115 goals in 343 appearances over 2 spells at Port Vale.

Devante Rodney led Port Vale’s scorers last season.

Carol and Kevin Shanahan took over as Port Vale’s owners in May 2019 and the atmosphere at the club is now very optimistic.

There have been quite a few changes to Vale’s 1st team squad for this season – many players released and signed.  It may be that Vale are taking a little time to bed in.

Here’s the view of a Vale fan pre-season –

“It is exciting times at the club. The signings are starting to come in and we finally have a goalkeeper.  They all seem quite good on paper.  It seems that due diligence has been done on these signings, and the fear that I had as a supporter in previous seasons, of, ‘who is this we have signed on a free?’ and ‘why are we even thinking of signing him?’ has been replaced with. ‘he seems like a great signing’, and ‘I can’t wait to see him play.’  The defenders seem solid enough for League Two. Both have had experience at this level and, in Martin’s case, at a higher level. So, I would imagine they will fit in nicely to Clarke’s plans.
Both midfielders also come with good pedigree, especially Walker, who, from reading the Shrewsbury fans’ forum, is going to be a very exciting prospect. He has potential to bring some exciting moments to the team.  I always find that when fans are disappointed by a player leaving their club and not being offered a contract, it means that you may have got a good player, rather than comments saying they are glad to see the back of him.
It’s true in football that sometimes a move is better for both parties, and it seems that this may be the case for Walker, but even more so for James Wilson.  I remember a few years ago when he was at Man United, he seemed to be heading to be next on United production line. He scored a double on his Premier League debut but never really went any further.  He has had a few clubs and shown promise, especially at Aberdeen, and so Salford seemed to have bagged a bargain when they signed him.  But it didn’t work out there for him, and he spent most of his games being played out wide, which must be frustrating for a striker.  I really hope he can deliver for us which I think, as a local lad, he will.  He has big shoes to fill because he will have number 9 on his back, the number vacated by club legend Tom Pope.  No pressure James!
Lucas Covolan may be able to help Wilson after scoring for Torquay in the play-off final. He is stepping up to play at this level, and is an unknown really, but he is highly thought of at Torquay, and has earned his chance.
Carol and co are doing a great job for me, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

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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 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 scoring against City in their FA Cup tie in January 2020.  He has 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 the biggest local rivalries more recently.
  • Port Vale supporters produce 3 unofficial fanzines, The Memoirs of Seth Bottomley, the Vale Park Beano, and Derek I’m Gutted!
  • Vale have played 108 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!