1958–59 Port Vale F.C. season
|Football League Fourth Division||1st (64 Points)|
|FA Cup||First Round|
(knocked out by Torquay United)
|Top goalscorer||League: Stan Steele (22)|
All: Stan Steele (22)
|Highest home attendance||20,916 vs. Coventry City, 4 April 1959|
|Lowest home attendance||8,851 vs. Chester, 21 February 1959|
|Average home league attendance||12,757|
|Biggest win||8–0 vs. Gateshead, 26 December 1958|
|Biggest defeat||1–4 vs. Northampton Town, 23 August 1958|
The 1958–59 season was Port Vale's 47th season of football in the English Football League, and their first season in the newly created Fourth Division following their relegation from the Third Division South. They scored a club-record 110 goals in 46 league matches to storm to the Fourth Division title. Forwards Stan Steele, Jack Wilkinson, Graham Barnett, Harry Poole, and John Cunliffe all reached double-figures in front of goal.
The pre-season saw the arrival of the 'speedy and direct' winger Brian Jackson (signed from Liverpool for £2,000), experienced left-back Roy Pritchard (Notts County), and Peter Hall (Stoke City). There was also a change of chairman, as Jake Bloom took charge. He initiated a change of kit, as Vale played in black and amber striped jerseys with black shorts.
The season opened with a 4–1 home defeat by Northampton Town, scoring the first goal of the new division. Roy Sproson was then dropped from the first eleven, and Vale failed to find a win in Burslem until 29 September. Their away form proved to be outstanding though, as the team recorded seven wins in their first nine away fixtures. On 24 September, Vale Park saw its first match under the new £17,000 floodlights, as the club beat West Bromwich Albion (who included Ronnie Allen in their line-up) 5–3. With a 4–1 win over Southport five days later, The Sentinel's 'T.G.F.' remarked that "the spell is broken". Vale remained unbeaten at home for the rest of the season. Strong in attack, the club took until 11 October before failing to score, in a goalless draw with Oldham Athletic witnessed by Shirley Bassey (as a guest of Norman Low). A fortnight later Vale failed to beat Carlisle United, as referee J.G.Williams blew the full-time whistle just as a Jack Wilkinson header was floating into the opposition's net. On 8 November, Vale beat Exeter City 5–3 in a top-of-the-table clash. Two consecutive away defeats followed soon after, as Vale fell down to third. The 4–2 loss in an 'appalling mud bath' at The Den saw the débuts of keeper Ken Hancock and striker Graham Barnett.
A twelve match unbeaten run followed, taking Vale four points clear at the top. This included a triumphant 8–0 Boxing day win over Gateshead (a Vale Park record and their biggest win since 24 September 1932), followed by a 4–0 win at Redheugh Park on New Year's Day. Roy Sproson was then brought back into the defensive line, whilst up front Stan Steele 'did the work of two men', Harry Poole brought 'flexibility and fluidity', and Barnett scored from half-chances. Just as Vale seemed to be running away with the title, defeat came on 16 March at Highfield Road to Coventry City. The following month the "Valiants" beat the "sky blues" 3–0, taking them six points ahead of the chasing pack. Promotion was secured on 18 April with a 1–1 draw at home to Darlington, and the title was secured with a final day victory over Millwall.
They finished as champions with 64 points, four points clear of second, and seven clear of fifth spot. They had secured twelve victories on the road, as despite nobody recording a hat-trick all season, a club-record 110 goals were scored – with five players reaching double-figures. The defence was also strong, only Coventry and York City conceded fewer. Praise came in for manager Norman Low, who in turned praised Barnett as 'the supreme goal poacher', Hancock as 'the find of the season', whilst Steele was 'the model of consistency'.
On the financial side, gate receipts rose by 20% to £39,934, whilst there was a transfer credit of £6,075. Wages had risen to £26,535, however the club's Sportsmen's Association made a donation of £9,069 to give the club a profit of £8,595. Pleased with his players, Low only released Alan Martin (Northwich Victoria) and reserve Ken Higgs (who went on to enjoy a successful cricket career). The stadium received an upgrade, as the Bycars End was terraced, increasing capacity by 6,500 to 50,000, and the car park was extended and additional drains were installed.
Port Vale's score comes first
Football League Fourth Division
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GAv||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Port Vale (C, P)||46||26||12||8||110||58||1.897||64||Promoted to the Third Division|
|2||Coventry City (P)||46||24||12||10||84||47||1.787||60|
|3||York City (P)||46||21||18||7||73||52||1.404||60|
|4||Shrewsbury Town (P)||46||24||10||12||101||63||1.603||58|
(C) Division Champions; (P) Promoted.
Results by matchday
; = Away; = Home; = Win; = Draw = Loss
|23 August 1958||Northampton Town||H||1–4||15,018||Wilkinson|
|26 August 1958||Watford||A||2–0||11,948||Jackson, Poole|
|30 August 1958||Workington||A||2–2||5,998||o.g., Steele|
|1 September 1958||Watford||H||1–3||10,458||Poole|
|6 September 1958||York City||H||2–2||10,104||Steele, Wilkinson|
|8 September 1958||Hartlepools United||A||5–1||6,158||Wilkinson (2), Cunliffe (2), Steele|
|13 September 1958||Bradford Park Avenue||A||2–0||9,683||Wilkinson, Steele|
|15 September 1958||Hartlepools United||H||1–1||9,313||Wilkinson|
|20 September 1958||Aldershot||A||4–0||6,211||Poole, Steele, Cunliffe, o.g.|
|23 September 1958||Southport||A||2–2||3,274||Steele, Wilkinson|
|27 September 1958||Crystal Palace||H||2–3||13,952||Poole, Hall|
|29 September 1958||Southport||H||4–1||9,788||Poole (2), Cunliffe, Wilkinson|
|4 October 1958||Chester||A||2–1||8,197||Steele (2)|
|6 October 1958||Torquay United||H||3–1||13,102||Wilkinson (2), Hall|
|11 October 1958||Oldham Athletic||H||0–0||13,432|
|18 October 1958||Barrow||A||2–1||4,909||Wilkinson, Cunliffe|
|25 October 1958||Carlisle United||H||1–1||12,894||Wilkinson (pen)|
|1 November 1958||Gillingham||A||2–0||9,940||Jackson, Steele|
|8 November 1958||Exeter City||H||5–3||14,282||Steele (2), Poole, Jackson, Cunliffe|
|22 November 1958||Shrewsbury Town||H||2–0||12,047||Poole, Wilkinson|
|29 November 1958||Darlington||A||0–2||6,160|
|13 December 1958||Millwall||A||2–4||11,056||Steele, Barnett|
|20 December 1958||Northampton Town||A||4–2||6,907||Poole (2), Kinsey, Barnett|
|26 December 1958||Gateshead||H||8–0||16,899||Cunliffe (2), Poole (2), Steele (2), Jackson (pen), Barnett|
|1 January 1959||Gateshead||A||4–0||4,674||Cunliffe (2), Steele, Poole|
|23 January 1959||Walsall||H||2–1||11,569||Barnett, Wilkinson|
|31 January 1959||Bradford Park Avenue||H||4–2||12,377||Wilkinson (2), Steele, Kinsey|
|7 February 1959||Aldershot||H||3–2||10,608||Barnett (2), Steele|
|14 February 1959||Crystal Palace||A||1–1||13,305||Cunliffe|
|21 February 1959||Chester||H||4–0||8,851||Wilkinson, Jackson, Steele, Barnett|
|28 February 1959||Oldham Athletic||A||2–0||7,515||Barnett (2)|
|2 March 1959||Workington||H||2–0||10,978||Poole, Kinsey|
|7 March 1959||Barrow||H||4–1||10,034||Wilkinson (2), Cunliffe, Barnett|
|14 March 1959||Carlisle United||A||3–0||6,110||Barnett (2), Steele|
|16 March 1959||Coventry City||A||0–1||28,429|
|21 March 1959||Gillingham||H||3–1||11,119||Steele, Cunliffe, Barnett|
|27 March 1959||Crewe Alexandra||A||0–2||15,330|
|28 March 1959||Exeter City||A||4–3||12,088||Steele (2), Poole, Sproson|
|30 March 1959||Crewe Alexandra||H||1–1||20,524||Jackson (pen)|
|4 April 1959||Coventry City||H||3–0||20,916||Wilkinson (2), Jackson (pen)|
|11 April 1959||Shrewsbury Town||A||3–4||10,619||Barnett (2), Cunliffe|
|15 April 1959||York City||A||0–0||9,755|
|18 April 1959||Darlington||H||1–1||11,577||Barnett|
|22 April 1959||Torquay United||A||1–1||5,036||Barnett|
|25 April 1959||Walsall||A||1–1||6,626||Barnett|
|27 April 1959||Millwall||H||5–2||13,473||Barnett (2), Poole, Jackson, Cunliffe|
|R1||15 November 1958||Torquay United||A||0–1||6,526|
|Pos.||Name||Football League||FA Cup||Total|
|Place||Position||Nation||Name||Fourth Division||FA Cup||Total|
|Summer 1958||DF||Roy Pritchard||Notts County||Free transfer|
|May 1958||MF||Peter Hall||Stoke City||Free transfer|
|July 1958||MF||Brian Jackson||Liverpool||£1,700|
|August 1958||FW||Dennis Bailey||Bolton Wanderers||Free transfer|
|November 1958||GK||Ken Hancock||Stoke City||Free transfer|
|April 1959||GK||Keith Jones||Crewe Alexandra||Free transfer|
|Summer 1959||MF||Alan Martin||Northwich Victoria||Released|
- 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.
- Fielding, Rob (3 October 2019). "Five of the best thumping Port Vale home victories". onevalefan.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
- Port Vale 1958–1959 : Results & Fixtures Archived 2 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.