1955–56 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1955–56 season
ChairmanFred Burgess
ManagerFreddie Steele
StadiumVale Park
Football League Second Division12th (45 Points)
FA CupFourth Round
(knocked out by Everton)
Top goalscorerLeague: Cyril Done / Len Stephenson (12)
All: Len Stephenson (14)
Highest home attendance44,278 vs. Everton, 28 January 1956
Lowest home attendance11,781 vs. Middlesbrough, 28 April 1956
Average home league attendance18,985
Biggest win3–0 and 4–1
Biggest defeat1–7 vs. Blackburn Rovers, 12 November 1955

The 1955–56 season was Port Vale's 44th season of football in the English Football League, and their second successive season (thirty-first overall) in the Second Division. Gaining ten points on their previous season's total, the club progressed well, achieving their best finish since 1933–34. Finishing one place above rivals Stoke City, it was the first time they outperformed Stoke since 1930–31. Part of the promotion-chasing pack at the season's end, they tailed off with four points from six games as Leeds United finished strongly to end up second. Vale's season was built on the defensive strength of the legendary 1953–54 season, along with record-signing England international Eddie Baily.

Overview[]

Second Division[]

The pre-season saw Stan Turner and Ken Griffiths undergo operations, keeping them out of action for the start of the campaign.

The season began with just one loss in the opening eleven games, including victories at Upton Park and Craven Cottage, and a 1–0 home win over rivals Stoke City in front of a crowd of 37,261. Nevertheless, injuries began to affect the first eleven, leaving room for reserves like Derek Mountford, Stan Smith, and Tom Conway to make an impression. The 'Steele Curtain' defence was still in operation, picking up five clean sheets in these eleven games. Journalist Bernard Jones compared 'the Vale Plan' to the Brazilian method of defence, defending the penalty area at all costs as that was from where 95% of all goals were scored. However manager Freddie Steele responded by claiming there was no such plan, and that the main objective was simply 'to beat the opposition'. On 22 October, Sheffield Wednesday went away from Vale Park with a 1–0 win, this was followed with a 4–1 defeat at Filbert Street. Steele began to initiate a modern pre-match ritual of having the players warm up in their tracksuits fifteen minutes before kick-off, though on 12 November this did them no favours at Ewood Park, as Blackburn Rovers romped to a 7–1 victory. Steele made eight changes following the defeat, which made little difference as Vale extended their run without a win to nine games. This left them in fifteenth place by mid-December, with a host of players out with injuries.

Cyril Done's return to match fitness was marked with a 2–1 win at the Memorial Stadium, beginning a sequence of one defeat in ten games. This left them in seventh place by February, in with a shot of promotion. In January, Eddie Baily was signed from Tottenham Hotspur for a club-record £7,000. Signing an inside-forward who was part of England's 1950 FIFA World Cup squad was a sign of the club's ambitions for top-flight football. Outclassed by Wednesday on 3 March, they lost 4–0 at Hillsborough, but followed this with wins over Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City. On 31 March they came to a 'hard-fought' 1–1 draw at Stoke's Victoria Ground, which left the "Valiants" in fifth place, level on points with second-placed Liverpool. In with a great chance of promotion by April, defeats at home to Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, and a 4–1 beating at Anfield ruined their chances. Harry Poole made his debut on the last day of the season, as Vale recorded a 3–2 win over Middlesbrough.

They finished in twelfth position with 45 points, one point and one position above rivals Stoke. The Steele Curtain boasted the best defensive record in the division, though only the bottom five scored fewer goals.

Finances[]

On the financial side, a loss was made of £4,974, blamed upon a 'crippling burden' of £12,422 in entertainment tax. Home attendances were down by around 2,000 a game to 18,985, leaving gate receipts at £60,784. Steele retained thirty professionals, releasing Albert Mullard and Ray Hancock (Northwich Victoria), and Tom Conway (Leek Town).

Cup competitions[]

In the FA Cup, Vale narrowly defeated Third Division South Walsall 1–0 at Fellows Park to win a Fourth Round tie with First Division Everton. A crowd of 44,278 saw 'a match that had everything', as the "Toffees" escaped with a 3–2 victory, Vale having had two goals disallowed.

League table[]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GAv Pts
10 Swansea Town 42 20 6 16 83 81 1.025 46
11 Bristol City 42 19 7 16 80 64 1.250 45
12 Port Vale 42 16 13 13 60 58 1.034 45
13 Stoke City 42 20 4 18 71 62 1.145 44
14 Middlesbrough 42 16 8 18 76 78 0.974 40

Results[]

Port Vale's score comes first

Football League Second Division[]

Results by matchday[]

Round123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142
GroundHHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHHAAAHAHAAHAHAHHAAHAHH
ResultDWLWWDWWDWDLLDLLDDLWWLWDDWDWDLWLWLWWDDLLLW
Position104114377453268810131212141211121111108987768676454791012
Source: Statto
A = Away; H = Home; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Loss

Matches[]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
20 August 1955 Bristol Rovers H 1–1 21,270 Cunliffe
22 August 1955 West Ham United H 2–1 19,259 Stephenson, Leake
27 August 1955 Rotherham United A 0–1 11,994
29 August 1955 West Ham United A 2–0 13,052 Smith, Done
3 September 1955 Swansea Town H 3–0 21,769 Cunliffe, Conway, Done
10 September 1955 Notts County A 0–0 14,733
17 September 1955 Leeds United H 2–0 21,348 Sproson, Done
24 September 1955 Fulham A 4–1 25,363 Conway (2), Smith, Done
1 October 1955 Bury H 1–1 20,691 Leake
8 October 1955 Stoke City H 1–0 37,261 Done
15 October 1955 Plymouth Argyle A 1–1 17,124 Cunliffe
22 October 1955 Sheffield Wednesday H 0–1 23,139
29 October 1955 Leicester City A 1–4 26,496 Stephenson
5 November 1955 Lincoln City H 1–1 16,561 Stephenson
12 November 1955 Blackburn Rovers A 1–7 25,464 Leake
19 November 1955 Hull City H 0–1 17,778
26 November 1955 Nottingham Forest A 2–2 9,533 Conway, Cunliffe
3 December 1955 Liverpool H 1–1 16,919 Stephenson
10 December 1955 Doncaster Rovers A 0–3 7,351
17 December 1955 Bristol Rovers A 2–1 19,144 Cunliffe, Stephenson
24 December 1955 Rotherham United H 4–1 13,023 Stephenson (2), Done (2)
26 December 1955 Barnsley H 1–2 19,130 Done
27 December 1955 Barnsley A 2–1 22,067 Stephenson (2)
31 December 1955 Swansea Town A 0–0 24,661
2 January 1956 Middlesbrough A 1–1 21,664 Mullard
14 January 1956 Notts County H 3–1 17,370 Cunliffe, Done (pen), Baily
21 January 1956 Leeds United A 1–1 23,680 Griffiths
4 February 1956 Fulham H 2–1 13,234 Baily, Griffiths
11 February 1956 Bury A 2–2 10,881 Griffiths, Stephenson
18 February 1956 Hull City A 1–1 6,884 Baily
25 February 1956 Plymouth Argyle H 3–1 14,336 Griffiths (3)
3 March 1956 Sheffield Wednesday A 0–4 29,789
10 March 1956 Doncaster Rovers H 2–0 16,389 Baily, Cunliffe
17 March 1956 Lincoln City A 0–1 10,635
24 March 1956 Blackburn Rovers H 4–1 15,217 Stephenson (2), Leake, Smith
30 March 1956 Bristol City H 2–0 24,900 Smith (2)
31 March 1956 Stoke City A 1–1 37,928 Griffiths
2 April 1956 Bristol City A 0–0 24,348
7 April 1956 Nottingham Forest H 0–2 23,018
14 April 1956 Liverpool A 1–4 29,413 Baily
21 April 1956 Leicester City H 2–3 14,302 Done (pen), Baily
28 April 1956 Middlesbrough H 3–2 11,781 Done (2), Baily

FA Cup[]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R3 7 January 1956 Walsall A 1–0 21,836 Stephenson
R4 28 January 1956 Everton H 2–3 44,278 Stephenson, Sproson

Player statistics[]

Appearances[]

Pos. Name Football League FA Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK England Ray King 39 0 2 0 41 0
GK England Ray Hancock 2 0 0 0 2 0
GK England John Poole 1 0 0 0 1 0
DF England Tommy Cheadle 19 0 0 0 19 0
DF England Reg Potts 42 0 2 0 44 0
DF England Roy Sproson 42 1 2 1 44 2
DF England Stan Turner 26 0 2 0 28 0
MF England Alan Bennett 7 0 0 0 7 0
MF England Albert Leake 36 4 2 0 38 4
MF England John Cunliffe 39 7 2 0 41 7
MF England Derek Mountford 15 0 0 0 15 0
MF England Albert Mullard 6 1 1 0 7 1
MF England Colin Askey 24 0 2 0 26 0
FW England Basil Hayward 41 0 2 0 43 0
FW England Ken Griffiths 19 7 2 0 21 7
FW England Len Stephenson 31 12 2 2 33 14
FW England Stan Smith 20 5 0 0 20 5
FW England Cyril Done 18 12 0 0 18 12
FW England Pat Willdigg 2 0 0 0 2 0
FW England Harry Poole 1 0 0 0 1 0
FW England Tom Conway 15 4 0 0 15 4
FW England Eddie Baily 17 7 1 0 18 7

Top scorers[]

Place Position Nation Name Second Division FA Cup Total
1 FW  England Cyril Done 12 0 14
2 FW  England Len Stephenson 12 2 12
3 FW  England Ken Griffiths 7 0 7
FW  England Eddie Baily 7 0 7
MF  England John Cunliffe 7 0 7
6 FW  England Stan Smith 5 0 5
7 FW  England Tom Conway 4 0 4
MF  England Albert Leake 4 0 4
9 DF  England Roy Sproson 1 1 2
10 MF  England Albert Mullard 1 0 1
TOTALS 60 3 63

Transfers[]

Transfers in[]

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
January 1956 FW England Eddie Baily Tottenham Hotspur £7,000

Transfers out[]

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
Summer 1956 FW England Tom Conway Leek Town Free transfer
Summer 1956 GK England Ray Hancock Northwich Victoria Free transfer
Summer 1956 MF England Albert Mullard Northwich Victoria Released
Summer 1956 FW England Pat Willdigg Northwich Victoria Free transfer

References[]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. Port Vale 1955–1956 : 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.

Sources[]