1956–57 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1956–57 season
ChairmanFred Burgess
ManagerFreddie Steele (until 15 January)
Norman Low (February onwards)
StadiumVale Park
Football League Second Division22nd (22 Points)
FA CupThird Round
(knocked out by Barnsley)
Top goalscorerLeague: Cyril Done (9)
All: Cyril Done (9)
Highest home attendance22,395 vs. Stoke City, 29 April 1957
Lowest home attendance7,038 vs. Rotherham United, 27 April 1957
Average home league attendance14,046
Biggest win3–0 and 4–1
Biggest defeat0–6 and 1–7

The 1956–57 season was Port Vale's 45th season of football in the English Football League, and their third successive season (thirty-second overall) in the Second Division. An unmitigated disaster from start to finish, they were relegated in bottom place with just 22 points from 42 games. It was the end of an era, as the reputation of 'the Steele Curtain' had taken a severe blow, and its architect Freddie Steele left the club in January. The season was considered to be one where the old guard 'cracked', and thus many loyal servants of the club were let go in the summer of 1957, including Ray King, Reg Potts, Stan Turner, Tommy Cheadle, and Stan Smith.

Three still-standing but unwanted club-records were set this season: a record 28 defeats in 42 matches, and a 22 game streak without a clean sheet (22 September 1956 to 23 February 1957), and a losing streak of nine straight games (9 March 1957 to 20 April 1957).

Overview[]

Second Division[]

The pre-season saw the arrival of Harry Anders, a winger from Manchester City signed for 'a substantial fee'.

The season started with Anders and Baily up front, a combination which failed during a goalless draw with Barnsley. Two losses followed in which eight goals were conceded. Harry Poole replaced Albert Leake in what was 'one of the few rays of sunlight in an otherwise gloomy beginning'. Vale then 'clicked into gear', picking up seven points out of a possible ten in September. This included a 4–2 win at Ewood Park, their last away win of the campaign. Injuries then ravaged the squad as Vale went on a sequence of eight straight defeats to take them from fourteenth to second from bottom. These included losses at the City Ground, Victoria Ground (in the first ever floodlit game in the Potteries), and Anfield. In October, Baily was sold to Nottingham Forest for £7,000 – exactly what Vale had paid for him earlier in the year. Baily had failed to fit in with the team, and was seen as too individualist. The next month Steele bought experienced forward Billy Spurdle from Manchester City for £4,000. He scored on his debut in a 3–2 win over Bury, and two weeks later he scored a brace in a 4–2 win over Doncaster Rovers. This temporarily took them away from relegation worries before a streak of seven games without victory.

On 15 January, Steele resigned, saying "I am quite prepared to face the consequences". On 2 February, Nottingham Forest travelled to Vale Park with Eddie Baily, and demolished Vale 7–1 in a record defeat for the club at the stadium. A week later, the "Valiants" put three past Fulham at Craven Cottage, but failed to pick up any points as Ray King conceded six goals despite a brilliant performance. On 18 February, 42-year-old Norman Low of Workington Town took the £2,000 a year job as Vale manager. Low had no interest in the tactics of the opposition, and simply told his players to 'entertain the public'. He was confident the players at his disposal could reach safety, despite the difficult situation they found themselves in. His first match in charge saw a 3–0 win over Grimsby Town which took them out of the relegation zone. Yet what followed was a club-record nine game losing streak that doomed their season, five of which were played in Burslem. Low experimented with his team by dropping King and Roy Sproson (on a run of 128 consecutive appearances), but all that resulted was a 6–0 hammering from Sheffield United. However it was their 1–0 defeat at Gigg Lane to struggling Bury that did more damage to their prospects of survival. During this spell Reg Potts made his 166th consecutive appearance, though Low put young reserves into the fray after all seemed lost. After relegation was confirmed, Vale seemed to play better with the pressure lifted, and picked up five points in their last three games, including a 2–2 draw at home to rivals Stoke City. Low also announced his plans to rebuild the club, initiating a lengthy series of schoolboy trials.

They finished bottom of the table with 22 points, losing 18 of their 21 away games. They were eight points short of third-from-bottom Notts County. Their 57 goals scored was greater only than Lincoln City, whilst 'the Steele Curtain' was broken, conceding 101 goals, fewer than only two Football League clubs (Charlton Athletic and Crewe Alexandra). Top scorer Cyril Done only score nine goals, as no consistent scorer emerged all season long.

Finances[]

On the financial side, 105,000 spectators had been lost from the previous season to an average of only 14,046, leaving an income from gate receipts of £40,717. Despite this a profit of £1,268 was recorded. This occurred because of a wage budget cut of around £8,000 to £20,684 and a transfer credit of £625. The club's debts were worrying however, causing the club's directors to funnel £2,500 of their own resources towards repaying this debt. A clear-out of players was initiated for the first time in a good while, those departing included: Cyril Done (Winsford United); Ray King (sold to Boston United for £2,500); Reg Potts and Stan Turner (Worcester City); Tommy Cheadle, Stan Smith, and Derek Mountford (Crewe Alexandra); Len Stephenson and Billy Spurdle (Oldham Athletic); and Harry Anders (Accrington Stanley). Though many of these were some of the club's best players, many had also reached retirement age. Low admitted that he would have to buy young players to fill the vacancies in the first team.

Cup competitions[]

In the FA Cup, Vale drew 3–3 with Barnsley at Oakwell, before losing the replay 1–0.

League table[]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GAv Pts Promotion or relegation
18 Lincoln City 42 14 6 22 54 80 0.675 34
19 Barnsley 42 12 10 20 59 89 0.663 34
20 Notts County 42 9 12 21 58 86 0.674 30
21 Bury 42 8 9 25 60 96 0.625 25 Relegated
22 Port Vale 42 8 6 28 57 101 0.564 22

Results[]

Port Vale's score comes first

Football League Second Division[]

Results by matchday[]

Round123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142
GroundHAAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAAHH
ResultDLLDWWDLWLLLLLLLLWLWLDLLLLLWLWLLLLLLLLLDWD
Position81820181616161714171817182020202020202020202021212121212121212122222222222222222222
Source: Statto
A = Away; H = Home; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Loss

Matches[]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
18 August 1956 Barnsley H 0–0 14,336
22 August 1956 Lincoln City A 0–4 11,863
25 August 1956 Sheffield United A 2–4 21,950 Smith (2)
27 August 1956 Lincoln City H 1–1 13,595 Done
1 September 1956 Bristol City H 3–1 17,645 Smith (2), Done
8 September 1956 Blackburn Rovers A 4–2 20,753 Smith(2), Stephenson, o.g.
15 September 1956 West Ham United H 0–0 17,582
22 September 1956 Nottingham Forest A 2–4 18,699 Smith, Baily
29 September 1956 Fulham H 2–1 21,281 Askey, Done
6 October 1956 Middlesbrough A 1–3 18,586 Stephenson
10 October 1956 Stoke City A 1–3 39,446 Smith
13 October 1956 Leicester City H 2–3 21,690 Hayward (2)
20 October 1956 Grimsby Town A 0–1 13,801
27 October 1956 Notts County H 1–2 13,137 Done
3 November 1956 Liverpool A 1–4 32,334 Steele
10 November 1956 Leyton Orient H 1–2 8,404 o.g.
17 November 1956 Huddersfield Town A 1–3 14,044 Poole
24 November 1956 Bury H 3–2 11,840 Askey, Spurdle, Stephenson
1 December 1956 Bristol Rovers A 1–2 21,268 Griffiths
8 December 1956 Doncaster Rovers H 4–1 12,330 Cunliffe (2), Spurdle (2)
15 December 1956 Barnsley A 0–2 9,683
29 December 1956 Bristol City A 3–3 18,561 Poole (2), Hayward
1 January 1957 Rotherham United A 0–1 8,120
12 January 1957 Blackburn Rovers H 0–3 12,422
19 January 1957 West Ham United A 1–2 17,229 Sproson
2 February 1957 Nottingham Forest H 1–7 18,185 Askey
9 February 1957 Fulham A 3–6 13,967 Done, Cunliffe, Spurdle
16 February 1957 Middlesbrough H 2–1 20,766 Done, Cunliffe
23 February 1957 Leicester City A 1–2 12,064 Spurdle
2 March 1957 Grimsby Town H 3–0 15,293 Done (2), Askey
9 March 1957 Notts County A 1–3 17,324 Potts
16 March 1957 Liverpool H 1–2 14,241 Spurdle
23 March 1957 Leyton Orient A 2–3 14,412 Askey, Leake
25 March 1957 Sheffield United H 0–6 9,249
30 March 1957 Huddersfield Town H 1–2 10,500 Spurdle
6 April 1957 Bury A 0–1 10,524
13 April 1957 Bristol Rovers H 2–3 9,006 Steele, Done (pen)
19 April 1957 Swansea Town H 0–2 12,729
20 April 1957 Doncaster Rovers A 0–4 7,626
22 April 1957 Swansea Town A 2–2 11,629 Cunliffe, Leake
27 April 1957 Rotherham United H 2–1 7,038 Leake (2)
29 April 1957 Stoke City H 2–2 22,395 Cunliffe, Steele

FA Cup[]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R3 5 January 1957 Barnsley A 3–3 17,720 Poole (2), Stephenson
R3 Replay 7 January 1957 Barnsley H 0–1 15,718

Player statistics[]

Appearances[]

Pos. Name Football League FA Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK England Ray King 37 0 2 0 39 0
GK England John Poole 3 0 0 0 3 0
GK England Leslie Wood 2 0 0 0 2 0
DF England Tommy Cheadle 14 0 0 0 14 0
DF England Reg Potts 39 1 2 0 41 1
DF England Roy Sproson 39 1 2 0 41 1
DF England Stan Turner 27 0 2 0 29 0
DF England David Raine 1 0 0 0 1 0
DF England Selwyn Whalley 6 0 0 0 6 0
DF England Frank Wintle 1 0 0 0 1 0
MF England Alan Bennett 2 0 0 0 2 0
MF England Albert Leake 22 4 0 0 22 4
MF England John Cunliffe 31 6 2 0 33 6
MF England Derek Mountford 9 0 2 0 11 0
MF England Colin Askey 37 5 2 0 39 5
MF England Harry Anders 3 0 0 0 3 0
MF England Terry Miles 5 0 0 0 5 0
MF England Billy Spurdle 21 7 2 0 23 7
MF England Basil Hayward 42 3 2 0 44 3
FW England Ken Griffiths 17 1 0 0 17 1
FW England Len Stephenson 20 3 2 1 22 4
FW England Stan Smith 17 8 0 0 17 8
FW England Cyril Done 16 9 0 0 16 9
FW England Harry Poole 30 3 2 2 32 5
FW England Eddie Baily 9 1 0 0 9 1
FW England Stan Steele 12 3 0 0 12 3

Top scorers[]

Place Position Nation Name Second Division FA Cup Total
1 FW  England Cyril Done 9 0 9
2 FW  England Stan Smith 8 0 8
3 MF  England Billy Spurdle 7 0 7
4 MF  England John Cunliffe 6 0 6
5 MF  England Colin Askey 5 0 5
FW  England Harry Poole 3 2 5
7 MF  England Albert Leake 4 0 4
FW  England Len Stephenson 3 1 4
9 FW  England Stan Steele 3 0 3
MF  England Basil Hayward 3 0 3
11 FW  England Ken Griffiths 1 0 1
FW  England Eddie Baily 1 0 1
DF  England Roy Sproson 1 0 1
DF  England Reg Potts 1 0 1
Own goals 2 0 2
TOTALS 57 3 60

Transfers[]

Transfers in[]

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
June 1956 GK England Leslie Wood Barrow 'Reasonable'
July 1956 MF England Harry Anders Manchester City 'Substantial'
November 1956 MF England Billy Spurdle Manchester City £4,000

Transfers out[]

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
October 1956 FW England Eddie Baily Nottingham Forest £7,000
May 1957 FW England Cyril Done Winsford United Free transfer
May 1957 DF England Frank Wintle Crewe Alexandra Free transfer
June 1957 MF England Harry Anders Accrington Stanley 'Small'
June 1957 FW England Len Stephenson Oldham Athletic £1,025
July 1957 DF England Tommy Cheadle Crewe Alexandra Free transfer
July 1957 GK England Ray King Boston United £2,500
July 1957 MF England Derek Mountford Crewe Alexandra Released
July 1957 DF England Reg Potts Worcester City Undisclosed
July 1957 FW England Stan Smith Crewe Alexandra Undisclosed
July 1957 DF England Stan Turner Worcester City Free transfer
Summer 1957 MF England Billy Spurdle Oldham Athletic £1,000

References[]

Specific
  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 1956–1957 : 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