1923–24 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1923–24 season
ChairmanSampson Walker
ManagerJoe Schofield
StadiumThe Old Recreation Ground
Football League Second Division16th (38 Points)
FA CupFifth Qualification Round
(knocked out by Wrexham)
North Staffordshire Infirmary CupRunners-up
(knocked out by Stoke)
Top goalscorerLeague: Billy Briscoe (10)
All: Billy Briscoe / Tom Page (10)
Highest home attendance16,800 vs Stoke, 13 October 1923
Lowest home attendance3,000 vs South Shields, 21 January 1924
Average home league attendance8,489
Biggest win3–0 and 4–1
Biggest defeat0–5 and 1–6

The 1923–24 season was Port Vale's fifth consecutive season of football (18th overall) in the English Football League. Another season of slow and steady progress saw the club finish one point, and one place higher than the previous campaign. The club still lacked a regular goalscorer since selling Bobby Blood, however Wilf Kirkham made his debut, and goals came from all across the team. A still-standing club record was set on 5 April 1924, when Tom Holford played against Derby County at the age of 46.

The most notable incident in the campaign was the death of Tom Butler on 11 November 1923; he died from complications of a broken arm that he picked up whilst playing for the club.

Back row: John Hampson, Tom Holford (trainer), Jack Maddock, Alf Dark, Thomas Lonsdale, Len Birks, Joe Schofield (manager)
Front row: Jack Lowe, Tom Page, Fred Howard, Tom Butler, Louis Bookman, Bob Connelly
Tom Holford retired at the end of the season, at the age of 43.
Billy Briscoe spent six months at Congleton Town, before returning to Vale in January to become the club's top scorer.
New-signing Jack Maddock played 22 games.
Sunderland legend Arthur Bridgett ended his professional career with Vale in 1924.

Overview[]

Second Division[]

To strengthen the side, pre-season signings included: Stalybridge Celtic goalkeeper Tommy Lonsdale; Macclesfield Town 'penalty king' right-back Jack Maddock; Leeds United tough-tackling half-back Alf Dark; Bolton Wanderers winger Jack Lowe; Clyde's reliable forward Fred Howard; and Exeter City goal machine Harold Crockford. The kit for the season was picked – red jerseys with white shorts.

The season started positively, with two wins recorded, as well as a 14,000 home crowd. However a run of one point won in five games saw the club slump down the table. The arrival of Ireland international Louis Bookman for £250 from Luton Town couldn't reverse the side's fortunes. Their stats by the end of October were: played twelve, lost eight, failed to score in six. This miserable run included two defeats inflicted by rivals Stoke – the first time they had done the double over Vale in the league. Crockford agreed to have his contract cancelled, and talks began to try to re-sign Billy Briscoe. A young Wilf Kirkham made his debut against Leeds United, but failed to make much of an impact.

Their rotten form seemed to have been turned around when the "Valiants" earned a 1–1 draw with Clapton Orient on 3 November 1923. Tom Butler scored the goal, yet paid the ultimate price for his efforts. Near the end of the match he suffered a compound fracture in his left arm, and complications set in whilst he was at Hackney Hospital, causing septic poisoning; he died of lockjaw on 11 November. The club paid his widow the rest of his wages, and Stoke and numerous other clubs donated generously to provide the widow with a £700 benefit fund.

Back to football, and the club signed 41-year-old former England international Arthur Bridgett, despite the fact that he had spent several years in retirement. The winger impressed, and scored within ninety seconds of his debut. Later in the year Peter Pursell returned to the field for the first time in the season following an injury, and was like a new signing. Despite all this, Vale still suffered, and a heavy defeat at Old Trafford saw them stuck at the foot of the table. Turning to 1924, the Vale managed a run of six games unbeaten, and Briscoe was finally given his pay rise and so was re-signed from Congleton Town.

Despite Blackpool putting twelve past the Vale defence, the latter half of the season saw a massive improvement, as they lost just 6 of the 22 games. Briscoe and Kirkham provided the goals necessary to lift the club out of the relegation zone. On 5 April 1924, Tom Holford played against Derby County at the age of 46 – still a club record.

At the end of season, Vale finished in sixteenth place with 38 points, making it two seasons in a row in which the club bettered their previous season tally by one point and one place. Performing poorly at home, only bottom place Bristol City lost more home games, and only second-bottom Nelson conceded more at home. Vale were five points clear of relegation, but thirteen points off a promotion place.

Briscoe, Page, Kirkham, and Bridgett were the major goalscorers. Full-back Len Birks was an ever-present, and Tommy Lonsdale, Jack Hampson, and Jack Lowe were also key first team players. As well as the debut of Kirkham, Roger Jones also made his debut, starting his fourteen-year association with the club. At the end of the season the club let Peter Pursell leave for Wigan Borough, whereas Lonsdale and Hampson both retired due to injury.

Finances[]

Finances were once again worrying for the club and its supporters. A greatly reduced wage bill of £7,900 still necessitated fund raising activities from fans to keep the club alive. Arthur Prince was also sold to Sheffield Wednesday to raise cash. Season ticket prices ranged from £2 6s. 6d. to £3, 6s. 6d.

Cup competitions[]

In the FA Cup, Vale drew Third Division North Wrexham at the Fifth Round of Qualifying for the second successive season, and another disappointing defeat followed, this time at the Racecourse Ground, with the Welsh club running out 5–1 winners. The North Staffordshire Infirmary Cup went to Stoke, who beat Vale 1–0 at The Old Recreation Ground.

League table[]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GAv Pts
14 Manchester United 42 13 14 15 52 44 1.182 40
15 Crystal Palace 42 13 13 16 53 65 0.815 39
16 Port Vale 42 13 12 17 50 66 0.758 38
17 Hull City 42 10 17 15 46 51 0.902 37
18 Bradford City 42 11 15 16 35 48 0.729 37

Results[]

Port Vale's score comes first

Football League Second Division[]

Results by matchday[]

Round123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142
GroundAHHAAHAHAHHAAHAHHHAHAAAHHAHAAAHHHAHAAAHHHA
ResultWWLLDLLWLLLLDWLDWLLWDDWDDLLDDDWLWLWLWLDWDW
Position319111214181416172121212121212122222221212121202020191919191919191919181919181816
Source: Statto
A = Away; H = Home; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Loss

Matches[]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
25 August 1923 Crystal Palace A 2–1 10,000 Crockford, Dark
27 August 1923 The Wednesday H 2–0 14,000 Collinge, Crockford
1 September 1923 Crystal Palace H 3–4 12,900 Howard (2 [1 pen]), Page
3 September 1923 The Wednesday A 1–2 12,000 Lowe
8 September 1923 Stockport County A 0–0 12,000
15 September 1923 Stockport County H 0–1 11,000
22 September 1923 Leicester City A 0–2 19,000
29 September 1923 Leicester City H 2–1 6,400 Page, Connelly
6 October 1923 Stoke A 0–1 21,685
13 October 1923 Stoke H 2–4 16,800 Page, Butler
20 October 1923 Leeds United H 0–1 9,300
27 October 1923 Leeds United A 0–3 12,000
3 November 1923 Clapton Orient A 1–1 15,000 Butler
10 November 1923 Clapton Orient H 1–0 7,540 Bridgett
17 November 1923 Bradford City A 0–2 7,500
24 November 1923 Bradford City H 2–2 6,000 Connelly, Bridgett
8 December 1923 Barnsley H 4–1 6,083 Page (2), Hampson, Bridgett
15 December 1923 Manchester United H 0–1 7,500
22 December 1923 Manchester United A 0–5 11,750
29 December 1923 Bury H 2–1 8,348 Reid, Bridgett
1 January 1924 South Shields A 3–3 10,000 Page, Bridgett, Reid
5 January 1924 Bury A 0–0 10,000
19 January 1924 Coventry City A 3–1 8,000 Bridgett (2), Kirkham
21 January 1924 South Shields H 1–1 3,000 Hampson
26 January 1924 Coventry City H 1–1 10,000 Lowe
2 February 1924 Barnsley A 0–3 7,000
9 February 1924 Bristol City H 0–2 6,000
13 February 1924 Bristol City A 0–0 7,000
16 February 1924 Southampton A 1–1 10,000 Briscoe
1 March 1924 Fulham A 0–0 12,000
8 March 1924 Fulham H 3–1 9,000 Kirkham (2), Briscoe
15 March 1924 Blackpool H 2–6 11,700 Briscoe (2 [1 pen])
17 March 1924 Southampton H 1–0 5,000 Kirkham
22 March 1924 Blackpool A 1–6 10,000 Page
29 March 1924 Derby County H 2–0 8,000 Maddock (pen), Briscoe
5 April 1924 Derby County A 0–2 10,000
12 April 1924 Nelson A 3–1 6,000 Page, Briscoe, Kirkham
18 April 1924 Oldham Athletic A 0–2 11,000
19 April 1924 Nelson H 0–0 8,000
21 April 1924 Oldham Athletic H 3–0 6,000 Kirkham, Page, Briscoe
26 April 1924 Hull City H 2–2 5,689 Briscoe, Kirkham
3 May 1924 Hull City A 2–1 6,000 Briscoe (2)

FA Cup[]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
5Q 1 December 1923 Wrexham A 1–5 8,390 Page

North Staffordshire Infirmary Cup[]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
Final 28 April 1924 Stoke H 0–1

Player statistics[]

Appearances[]

Pos. Name Football League FA Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK England Robert Radford 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
GK England Tommy Lonsdale 31 0 0 0 0 0 31 0
GK England Sidney Brown 8 0 1 0 1 0 10 0
DF Scotland Peter Pursell 24 0 0 0 1 0 25 0
DF England Len Birks 42 0 1 0 1 0 44 0
DF England Jimmy Oakes 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
DF England William Newton 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
DF England Jack Maddock 21 1 0 0 0 0 22 1
MF England Ernest Collinge 18 1 1 0 0 0 19 1
MF Scotland Bob Connelly 24 2 0 0 1 0 25 2
MF Wales Jack Hampson 31 2 1 0 1 0 33 2
MF England Arthur Prince 27 0 0 0 1 0 28 0
MF England Tom Holford 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
MF England Roger Jones 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0
MF England Jack Lowe 30 2 1 0 1 0 32 2
MF England Jack Mellor 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
MF England Tom Davis 14 0 0 0 0 0 14 0
MF England Alf Dark 25 1 1 0 0 0 26 1
MF Ireland Louis Bookman 10 0 1 0 0 0 11 0
MF England Arthur Bridgett 14 7 1 0 0 0 15 7
MF England George Benson 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
FW England Harold Crockford 6 2 0 0 0 0 6 2
FW England Tom Page 37 9 1 1 1 0 39 10
FW Albert Spencer 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
FW Scotland Tom Reid 17 2 1 0 0 0 18 2
FW England Tom Butler 7 2 0 0 0 0 7 2
FW England Joe Pointon 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
FW England Fred Howard 12 2 0 0 0 0 12 2
FW England Wilf Kirkham 21 7 0 0 1 0 22 7
FW England Billy Briscoe 20 10 0 0 1 0 21 10
FW England Harry Lovatt 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Top scorers[]

Place Position Nation Name Second Division FA Cup Infirmary Cup Total
1 FW  England Tom Page 9 1 0 10
FW  England Billy Briscoe 10 0 0 10
3 FW  England Wilf Kirkham 7 0 0 7
MF  England Arthur Bridgett 7 0 0 7
5 FW  England Fred Howard 2 0 0 2
FW  England Tom Butler 2 0 0 2
FW  Scotland Tom Reid 2 0 0 2
FW  England Harold Crockford 2 0 0 2
MF  England Jack Lowe 2 0 0 2
MF Wales Wales Jack Hampson 2 0 0 2
MF  Scotland Bob Connelly 2 0 0 2
12 DF  England Jack Maddock 1 0 0 1
MF  England Ernest Collinge 1 0 0 1
MF  England Alf Dark 1 0 0 1
TOTALS 50 1 0 51

Transfers[]

Transfers in[]

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
1923 MF England Arthur Bridgett Sunderland Free transfer
1923 FW England Wilf Kirkham Congleton Town Free transfer
April 1923 FW England Joe Pointon Stoke City Free transfer
May 1923 MF England Harold Crockford Exeter City Free transfer
May 1923 MF England Jack Lowe Bolton Wanderers Free transfer
June 1923 MF England Alf Dark Leeds United Free transfer
June 1923 GK England Tommy Lonsdale Stalybridge Celtic Free transfer
June 1923 DF England William Newton Red Street P.S.A. Free transfer
July 1923 FW England Fred Howard Scotland Clyde Free transfer
July 1923 MF England Roger Jones Ravensdale Free transfer
July 1923 MF England Jack Mellor New Mills Free transfer
July 1923 GK England Robert Radford Brereton Social Free transfer
August 1923 DF England Jack Maddock Macclesfield Town Free transfer
August 1923 DF England Jimmy Oakes Milton Albion Free transfer
September 1923 MF Ireland Louis Bookman Luton Town £250
November 1923 FW England Albert Spencer Wolverhampton Wanderers Free transfer
January 1924 FW England Billy Briscoe Congleton Town Free transfer
February 1924 MF England George Benson Queens Park Rangers Trial

Transfers out[]

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
September 1923 MF England Harold Crockford Chesterfield Mutual consent
November 1923 FW England Tom Butler His death
November 1923 FW England Fred Howard New Brighton Free transfer
February 1924 MF England George Benson Chorley Trial ended
February 1924 DF England William Newton Congleton Town Free transfer
May 1924 MF England Arthur Prince Sheffield Wednesday £750
Summer 1924 MF Ireland Louis Bookman Ireland Shelbourne Released
Summer 1924 MF England Arthur Bridgett Sandbach Ramblers Released
Summer 1924 MF England Alf Dark Halifax Town Released
Summer 1924 MF England Jack Hampson Released
Summer 1924 MF England Tom Holford Retired
Summer 1924 GK England Tommy Lonsdale Released
Summer 1924 MF England Jack Mellor New Mills Released
Summer 1924 DF Scotland Peter Pursell Wigan Borough Free transfer
Summer 1924 GK England Robert Radford Brereton Social Released
Summer 1924 FW England Albert Spencer Willenhall Released

References[]

Specific
  1. ^ Kent, Jeff (1990). "Keeping in Good Company (1919-1929)". The Valiants' Years The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 98–123. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7.
  2. Port Vale 1923–1924 : Results & Fixtures Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. ^ Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
General