1997–98 Port Vale F.C. season
|Football League First Division||19th (49 Points)|
|FA Cup||Third Round|
(knocked out by Arsenal)
|League Cup||First Round|
(knocked out by York City)
|Player of the Year||Gareth Ainsworth|
|Top goalscorer||League: Lee Mills (14)|
All: Lee Mills (16)
|Highest home attendance||14,964 vs. Arsenal, 14 January 1998|
|Lowest home attendance||2,749 vs. York City, 12 August 1997|
|Average home league attendance||8,263|
|Biggest win||4–0 vs. Huddersfield Town, 3 May 1998|
|Biggest defeat||1–5 vs. Ipswich Town, 18 April 1998|
The 1997–98 season was Port Vale's 86th season of football in the English Football League, and fourth successive season in the First Division. John Rudge managed to mastermind a final day escape from relegation, as rivals Stoke City instead lost their second tier status, leaving Vale as the top club in the Potteries. In the FA Cup, Vale took Arsenal to a replay, before leaving at the Third Round stage having lost on penalties. In the League Cup Vale again exited at the First Round. Something of an end of an era for the club, Lee Mills and Jon McCarthy left the club on big money moves, whilst Dean Glover, Andy Porter, and Andy Hill also left the club. The club made its record signing however, in bringing Gareth Ainsworth in from Lincoln City for £500,000.
The Vale started the season in modest form, as they picked up fourteen points in the opening nine games. On 11 September, John Rudge made the club's record signing by paying Lincoln City £500,000 for the services of midfielder Gareth Ainsworth. To pay for this Jon McCarthy was sold to Birmingham City for £1.5m. Also heading away from Stoke-on-Trent was Arjan van Heusden, who joined Oxford United on loan. The next month Gareth Griffiths left for a loan spell at Shrewsbury Town. Disappointment came on 12 October, with a 2–1 defeat to rivals Stoke City at the newly opened Britannia Stadium. Vale's indifferent form continued, one highlight being a 3–2 win over Manchester City at Maine Road on 4 November. Later in the year Paul Beesley joined on loan from Man City, and played a handful of games. The club's indifferent form then turned to a terrible run of ten defeats in twelve games, which included a run of one goal scored in seven games. Their form picked up in February, though they were still inconsistent. On 1 March, Stoke, who were also in relegation danger, escaped from Vale Park with a goalless draw. Later in month Rudge signed young Tottenham Hotspur forward Paul Mahorn on non-contract terms. On 14 March, a 2–1 win over Manchester City was to prove crucial, though Vale were still in danger of the drop. Going into their final game with Huddersfield Town at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium Vale had lost three straight games, and were in need of a win to ensure their safety in the league. A brace from Jansson, and one each from Martin Foyle and Lee Mills earned Vale a 4–0 win.
They finished in nineteenth place, one point above Manchester City in the relegation zone. Stoke City were also relegated, and had Stoke beat Vale in Burslem then Vale would have taken Stoke's place in the relegation zone. Lee Mills was the club's top-scorer with sixteen goals, whilst Tony Naylor also hit double-figures.
At the end of the season, Lee Mills was signed by Premier League Bradford City, becoming Bradford's first million pound player. Twelve year club veteran Andy Porter signed for Wigan Athletic, as did Griffiths. Another major departure was nine-year club veteran defender Dean Glover, who joined non-league Kidderminster Harriers. Another older player, Andy Hill, retired outright. Other departures were Dave Barnett to Lincoln City, Dean Stokes to Third Division Rochdale, and Dutch keeper Arjan van Heusden also headed into the basement division with Cambridge United. Fellow Dutchman Jermaine Holwyn returned to the Netherlands to play for HFC Haarlem.
The club's shirt sponsors were Tunstall Assurance.
In the FA Cup, Vale faced a trip to Highbury to face Arsenal. Rudge's "Valiants" battled to a goalless draw with Arsène Wenger's "Gunners", to take the Londoners back to Burslem. Again goalless, Dennis Bergkamp scored in the tenth minute of extra time, but Wayne Corden equalized eight minutes before the full-time whistle. Lee Dixon missed the first penalty of the shoot-out, but Arsenal recovered to win the game 4–3 on penalties, and later went on to lift the cup.
|21||Queens Park Rangers||46||10||19||17||51||63||−12||49|
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) number of goal scored; 3) goal difference.
Port Vale's score comes first
Football League First Division
Results by matchday
; = Away; = Home; = Win; = Draw = Loss
|9 August 1997||Nottingham Forest||H||0–1||12,533|
|16 August 1997||Portsmouth||A||1–3||10,605||Talbot|
|23 August 1997||Sunderland||H||3–1||8,290||Naylor (2), Mills|
|3 September 1997||Wolverhampton Wanderers||A||1–1||21,524||Foyle|
|9 September 1997||Stockport County||H||2–1||6,615||Mills (2)|
|13 September 1997||Norwich City||A||0–1||11,269|
|16 September 1997||Crewe Alexandra||A||1–0||5,519||Mills|
|20 September 1997||Bury||H||1–1||6,781||Ainsworth|
|27 September 1997||Queens Park Rangers||H||2–0||7,197||Snijders, Naylor|
|4 October 1997||Swindon Town||A||2–4||8,048||Glover, Foyle|
|12 October 1997||Stoke City||A||1–2||20,125||Naylor|
|18 October 1997||Bradford City||H||0–0||7,148|
|21 October 1997||Huddersfield Town||H||4–1||5,244||Own goal, Talbot, Ainsworth, Naylor|
|25 October 1997||Middlesbrough||A||1–2||30,096||Foyle|
|1 November 1997||Reading||H||0–0||6,569|
|4 November 1997||Manchester City||A||3–2||24,554||Snijders, Talbot, Naylor|
|8 November 1997||Tranmere Rovers||A||2–1||7,063||Naylor (2)|
|15 November 1997||West Bromwich Albion||H||1–2||11,124||Mills|
|22 November 1997||Sheffield United||H||0–0||8,017|
|29 November 1997||Oxford United||A||0–2||5,762|
|6 December 1997||Birmingham City||H||0–1||7,509|
|13 December 1997||Charlton Athletic||A||0–1||11,077|
|20 December 1997||Ipswich Town||H||1–3||5,784||Foyle|
|26 December 1997||Stockport County||A||0–3||10,003|
|28 December 1997||Wolverhampton Wanderers||H||0–2||10,898|
|10 January 1998||Nottingham Forest||A||0–2||17,639|
|17 January 1998||Portsmouth||H||2–1||6,028||Talbot, Mills|
|24 January 1998||Crewe Alexandra||H||2–3||6,683||Naylor, Porter (pen)|
|31 January 1998||Sunderland||A||2–4||39,258||Talbot, Jansson|
|7 February 1998||Bury||A||2–2||5,285||Mills, Bogie|
|14 February 1998||Norwich City||H||2–2||6,664||Mills (2)|
|17 February 1998||Swindon Town||H||0–1||5,925|
|21 February 1998||Queens Park Rangers||A||1–0||14,198||Mills|
|24 February 1998||Bradford City||A||1–2||13,293||Foyle|
|1 March 1998||Stoke City||H||0–0||13,853|
|4 March 1998||Tranmere Rovers||H||0–1||5,465|
|7 March 1998||Reading||A||3–0||7,139||Mills, Talbot, Jansson|
|14 March 1998||Manchester City||H||2–1||13,122||Foyle, Ainsworth|
|21 March 1998||West Bromwich Albion||A||2–2||14,242||Jansson, Foyle|
|28 March 1998||Sheffield United||A||1–2||15,860||Corden|
|4 April 1998||Oxford United||H||3–0||6,524||Mills, Naylor, Ainsworth|
|11 April 1998||Birmingham City||A||1–1||17,193||Ainsworth|
|13 April 1998||Charlton Athletic||H||0–1||9,973|
|18 April 1998||Ipswich Town||A||1–5||16,205||Barnett|
|24 April 1998||Middlesbrough||H||0–1||12,096|
|3 May 1998||Huddersfield Town||A||4–0||15,610||Jansson (2), Foyle, Mills|
|R3||3 January 1998||Arsenal||A||0–0||37,471|
|R3 Replay||14 January 1998||Arsenal||H||(3)1–1(4)||14,964||Corden|
|R1 1st Leg||12 August 1997||York City||H||1–1||2,749||Mills|
|R1 2nd Leg||26 August 1997||York City||A||1–2||3,195||Mills|
|Pos.||Name||Football League||FA Cup||League Cup||Total|
|GK||Arjan van Heusden||5||0||0||0||0||0||5||0|
|Place||Position||Nation||Name||First Division||FA Cup||League Cup||Total|
|1997||DF||Matt Carragher||Wigan Athletic||Free transfer|
|Summer 1997||MF||Jan Jansson||IFK Norrköping||£200,000|
|Summer 1997||DF||Mark Snijders||AZ Alkmaar||Free transfer|
|September 1997||MF||Gareth Ainsworth||Lincoln City||£500,000|
|September 1997||MF||Jon McCarthy||Birmingham City||£1.5 million|
|1998||DF||Jermaine Holwyn||HFC Haarlem||Free transfer|
|July 1998||MF||Andy Porter||Wigan Athletic||Free transfer|
|June 1998||DF||Gareth Griffiths||Wigan Athletic||Free transfer|
|Summer 1998||DF||Dean Glover||Kidderminster Harriers||Free transfer|
|Summer 1998||DF||Andy Hill||Retired|
|Summer 1998||FW||Lee Mills||Bradford City||£1,000,000|
|Summer 1998||DF||Dean Stokes||Rochdale||Free transfer|
|August 1998||GK||Arjan van Heusden||Cambridge United||Free transfer|
|Date from||Position||Nationality||Name||From||Date to||Ref.|
|December 1997||DF||Paul Beesley||Manchester City||December 1997|
|March 1998||DF||Dave Barnett||Dunfermline Athletic||May 1998|
|Date from||Position||Nationality||Name||To||Date to||Ref.|
|September 1997||GK||Arjan van Heusden||Oxford United||October 1997|
|November 1997||DF||Gareth Griffiths||Shrewsbury Town||November 1997|
- Baggaley, Michael (3 May 2020). "Last day drama when Port Vale stayed up but Man City and Stoke City went down". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
- Baggaley, Mike (20 February 2016). "Were these Vale's five greatest games ever?". The Sentinel. Retrieved 20 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
- Baggaley, Mike (5 January 2017). "Huddersfield v Port Vale archives: When Vale stayed up in style". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- Shaw, Phil (15 January 1998). "Football: Arsenal let off the hook by Tankard". The Independent. London. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- "Sports photographs from our archives". The Sentinel. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Baggaley, Michael (14 January 2018). "When Port Vale gave Arsenal an almighty FA Cup scare". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
- Port Vale 1997–1998 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "Port Vale FC Club Details | Transfers | Soccer Base". www.soccerbase.com. Retrieved 7 October 2016.