1952–53 Port Vale F.C. season
|Football League Third Division North||2nd (58 Points)|
|FA Cup||Second Round|
(knocked out by Oldham Athletic)
(knocked out by Stoke City)
|Top goalscorer||League: Basil Hayward (22)|
All: Basil Hayward (22)
|Highest home attendance||25,398 vs. Oldham Athletic, 6 December 1952|
|Lowest home attendance||6,000 vs. Bradford City, 20 December 1952|
|Average home league attendance||14,504|
|Biggest win||4–0 (twice)|
|Biggest defeat||0–3 vs. Oldham Athletic, 6 December 1952|
The 1952–53 season was Port Vale's 41st season of football in the English Football League, and their first season (fourth overall) back in the Third Division North, following their switch from the Third Division South. Using an incredibly settled squad (only nineteen players were used all season), manager Freddie Steele led the Vale to a second-place finish, just a single point from the promotion spot. Built upon an 'iron curtain defence', just 35 goals were conceded in 46 league games. All this was achieved with pretty much the same bottom-placed team that Steele inherited in December 1951.
Following from 9 February the previous season until 8 September the club racked up a club record streak of twelve consecutive home wins.
Third Division North
The pre-season saw the club switched from the Third Division South to the Third Division North, very much against the wishes of the directors, who believed a loss of income would follow. Manager Freddie Steele decided against making any new signings, and instead kept faith with the young team he had inherited the previous season. Offers were made for some of the young prospects, but none were accepted.
The season began with a 1–0 defeat at Valley Parade with a goal from Ray King's brother George, managed by Steele's predecessor Ivor Powell. This did not affect the team's spirits, as they went straight on to a seven match unbeaten run, conceding just three goals. Steele picked up an injury and so selected the versatile Basil Hayward to replace him. A shrewd move, Hayward would go on to become the club's top scorer. It took awhile to pay off however, as Vale went five games scoring just one goal. Steele attempted to sign a new forward, but to no avail. A 1–0 home defeat to wooden spoon contenders Accrington Stanley exemplified the club's trouble in front of goal, and also ended their record-breaking run of twelve consecutive home wins. Steele and trainer Ken Fish put the squad to work on the special fitness regime they devised, as the "Valiants" marched onwards.
Travelling to Boundary Park on 15 November, they beat Oldham Athletic 1–0, taking themselves up into third place. They dropped points during the Christmas period, though picked up a useful 4–1 win at Gresty Road on Boxing day. Three points out of a possible eight in February allowed leaders Oldham to pull away from the chasing Vale. In March Oldham and Grimsby Town struggled, and so Vale took advantage with six points from ten, conceding just three goals. With six of the final nine games at home, and all of the chasing pack yet to visit Burslem, the omens seemed good for promotion. Vale duly remained unbeaten until the season's end, however drawing five of these games proved not enough. The 4 April encounter with Oldham proved to be the title decider, Vale had dominated the game but conceded a fatal equalizing goal on 86 minutes. Two draws against strugglers Chester were also costly. Nevertheless, they finished strongly, hammering Grimsby Town 4–0, Reg Potts scoring with a lob from 35 yards out.
They finished second, a single point away from top spot. Steele's emphasis on teamwork had turned the team around, and earned the club its best finish since their relegation from the second tier in 1935–36. Their defensive record of 35 goals conceded was bettered only by Second Division Huddersfield Town. Their tally of 58 points was second only to the club's extraordinary 1929–30 campaign. Their main weakness was an average offence, though Hayward proved to be a revelation with 22 goals.
On the financial side, a £1,676 profit was recorded. This was due to a club record average attendance of 14,504 – which took gate receipts to £39,929 – and a £5,000 slash in the wage bill to £18,246. For once the club did not sell its best players, and yet it also made a profit. Steele was rewarded with a three-year contract. He again kept on almost all of the squad, with two exceptions being Jimmy Todd (Wellington Town) and Norman Hallam (Halifax Town).
In the FA Cup, Third Division South Exeter City were beaten 2–1. However, in the Second Round league leaders Oldham Athletic won 3–0 in front of a season best 25,398 crowd at Vale Park – 8,000 of them Oldham supporters.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GAv||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Oldham Athletic (C, P)||46||22||15||9||77||45||1.711||59||Promoted to the second division|
(C) Division Champions; (P) Promoted.
Port Vale's score comes first
Football League Third Division North
Results by matchday
; = Away; = Home; = Win; = Draw = Loss
|23 August 1952||Bradford City||A||0–1||16,326|
|25 August 1952||Tranmere Rovers||H||2–0||17,138||Mullard, Griffiths|
|30 August 1952||Rochdale||H||5–2||15,448||Griffiths (2), Steele, Mullard, Bennett|
|2 September 1952||Tranmere Rovers||A||1–1||10,194||Hayward|
|6 September 1952||Darlington||A||2–0||8,600||Mullard, Hayward|
|8 September 1952||Stockport County||H||2–0||15,185||Steele, Mullard|
|13 September 1952||Gateshead||H||1–1||17,803||Steele|
|15 September 1952||Stockport County||A||2–0||10,142||Bennett, Hayward|
|20 September 1952||Hartlepools United||A||0–2||9,945|
|22 September 1952||Bradford Park Avenue||H||1–0||12,553||Hulligan|
|27 September 1952||Carlisle United||H||0–0||10,803|
|29 September 1952||York City||A||0–1||7,289|
|4 October 1952||Southport||A||0–0||7,616|
|11 October 1952||Chesterfield||H||3–0||14,352||Steele (2), Sproson|
|18 October 1952||Workington||A||1–1||6,705||Hayward|
|25 October 1952||Accrington Stanley||H||0–1||12,202|
|1 November 1952||Halifax Town||A||2–1||11,693||Griffiths (2)|
|8 November 1952||Mansfield Town||H||1–1||14,103||Hayward|
|15 November 1952||Oldham Athletic||A||1–0||21,407||o.g.|
|29 November 1952||Wrexham||A||1–3||11,082||Griffiths|
|13 December 1952||Grimsby Town||A||1–1||13,801||o.g.|
|20 December 1952||Bradford City||H||0–0||6,000|
|26 December 1952||Crewe Alexandra||A||4–1||13,962||Griffiths (2), Hayward (2)|
|27 December 1952||Crewe Alexandra||H||3–1||22,478||Hayward (2), Griffiths|
|3 January 1953||Rochdale||A||1–1||6,899||Hayward|
|17 January 1953||Darlington||H||2–1||11,417||Hulligan, Hayward|
|24 January 1953||Gateshead||A||1–1||7,785||Hayward|
|31 January 1953||Scunthorpe & Lindsey United||A||2–1||6,984||Cunliffe, Hayward|
|7 February 1953||Hartlepools United||H||3–0||13,919||Hayward (2), Griffiths|
|14 February 1953||Carlisle United||A||0–2||10,419|
|21 February 1953||Southport||H||0–0||13,919|
|28 February 1953||Chesterfield||A||0–1||9,772|
|7 March 1953||Workington||H||2–0||12,093||Bennett, Hayward|
|14 March 1953||Accrington Stanley||A||1–1||5,499||Griffiths|
|16 March 1953||Scunthorpe & Lindsey United||H||4–0||11,371||Cunliffe (2), Hayward, Leake|
|21 March 1953||Halifax Town||H||1–1||17,945||Hayward|
|28 March 1953||Mansfield Town||A||0–1||6,083|
|3 April 1953||Chester||H||1–1||19,413||Griffiths|
|4 April 1953||Oldham Athletic||H||1–1||24,499||Sproson|
|6 April 1953||Chester||A||2–2||10,553||Cunliffe, Askey|
|11 April 1953||Bradford Park Avenue||A||2–2||11,790||Griffiths, Hayward|
|13 April 1953||Barrow||H||3–0||10,010||Hayward, Hulligan, Mullard|
|18 April 1953||Wrexham||H||0–0||21,585|
|20 April 1953||York City||H||2–0||11,379||Leake, Hayward|
|25 April 1953||Barrow||A||2–1||5,080||Hayward, Leake|
|30 April 1953||Grimsby Town||H||4–0||7,964||Potts, Leake, Mullard, Hulligan|
|R1||22 November 1952||Exeter City||H||2–1||14,394||Mullard, Griffiths|
|R2||6 December 1952||Oldham Athletic||H||0–3||25,398|
|Final||4 May 1953||Stoke City||A||0–2||9,981|
|Pos.||Name||Football League||FA Cup||Coronation Cup||Total|
|Place||Position||Nation||Name||Third Division North||FA Cup||Coronation Cup||Total|
|December 1952||FW||Derek Tomkinson||Burton Albion||Free transfer|
|May 1953||DF||John Abbotts||Released|
|May 1953||MF||Norman Hallam||Halifax Town||Free transfer|
|May 1953||MF||Jimmy Todd||Wellington Town||Free transfer|
|Summer 1953||FW||Freddie Steele||Retired|
- Kent, Jeff (1990). "Fame and Fortune (1950–1959)". The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 171–196. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7.
- Port Vale 1952–1953 : Results & Fixtures Archived 5 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.