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Rovers travelled to Port Vale on the 15th December and drew 1-1 (a Chris Stokes own goal in the 34th minute was cancelled out by an Aaron Collins strike in the 42nd minute). Recently, their manager, John Askey, has been faced a lot of criticism from Vale fans. In their last 13 games Vale have won only once (including a thriller of a 6-3 victory away to Bradford), while there have been 8 losses and 3 draws. This poor run of form saw Vale fall to 17th in the league – 9 points from the play-off places and only 5 points above the relegation places until their most recent outing, a 3-0 home win against Grimsby. So, a promising start, with victories over Cheltenham, Exeter & Salford, has slightly fallen away but Vale are now 13th and more comfortably mid-table.

Vale’s previous outing was a fairly miserable afternoon at Mansfield where they lost 4-0 and had defender Leon Legge sent off for a second yellow card early in the 2nd half when they already trailed 2-0. One summariser described the 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.

The Mansfield game aside, Vale have generally played with a little more freedom away from home this season – about as many points and goals on the road as they have mustered at Vale Park. Manager Askey is expected to be backed in the January transfer window, so Vale may have some fresh impetus when they arrive at the New Lawn.

Devante Rodney’s free transfer from Salford at the start of the season has paid dividends for him. The 22 year old, who wears number 21, is Vale’s leading scorer with 6 goals. But Rovers need to be wary of Vale’s number 7, David Worrall, who has chipped in with a couple of goals and a remarkable 10 assists this season

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) has made some headlines with his use of social media. 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 comments on Twitter.
  • Vale’s most famous fans are Robbie Williams and 16-times world darts champion Phil (‘The Power’) Taylor.
  • 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.
  • 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!
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Tom Pope – Vale’s veteran number 9
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Carol and Kevin Shanahan took over as Port Vale’s owners in May 2019