It’s time, once again, for us to at least try and satisfy your insatiable and – quite frankly – worrying lust or pang for nostalgia. Like the Nickleback comeback album no-one craves, it’s the latest article in our Remember Them series. Unlike last time, however, we’ve gone and found a side we’ve actually met in competitive circumstances. Mind you, we’re not sure how well this indulges your wistful affections. This time, we look at a club who would have been relatively current but for a poor season last year. Now they’re current. Now, it’s Port Vale.
Port Vale: Who Are They?
The starting point for the Valiants’ tale is one to debate among yourselves. The club’s official website is of the view that things all started in 1876; their name taken from Port Vale House. A local historian, however, reckons otherwise; the club instead coming to life in 1879 as an offshoot of Porthill Victoria football club and taking its name from its location: the valley of canal ports. Either way, it’s a ruddy bloody long time ago – and gives them around 100 years’ head start on our humble Boro’. Now that’s done, here’s how they got where they are today.
In 1892, the club were a founder member of Football League Division Two. This occured during a 27-year epoch when they were known as Burslem Port Vale after relocating to, well, Burslem. That moniker was binned in ’07, the same year in which the Valiants quit the League due to financial strife. After the First World War One, they made their League return, taking over the fixtures of a Leeds City side who were in a bit of a fiscal pickle. Vale have remained in the League ever since, and with varying peaks and troughs recorded during that time.
For all their time in the League, Port Vale are yet to appear in the top flight. The closest they have come (that we could be arsed to count) are a number of eighth-placed finishes in the second tier. No digs there, however. It’s higher than we’ve yet to achieve. Yet. The last time the club were seen in the second tier was back in 2000; the Valiants sharing their time between Leagues One and Two in the period since. It’s probably more galling if you think how their city rivals, Stoke City, have spent the last decade in the Premier League.
Mind you, Vale do have two Football League Trophy titles to their name.
Port Vale: Us And Them…
You’d think Port Vale skulking around Leagues One or Two is the reason we have a mutual association. But, no. Our first encounter, actually, came during the first half of our 2009-10 Conference-winning campaign. The FA Cup First Round took us to their place and, despite arguably shading things, it took a last-minute Charlie Griffin equaliser to secure a replay. Clearly, there were high hopes we could create an “upset” in that very replay, but an uncharacteristic gaff by Robbo with a short backpass made all the difference; Vale winning 1-0.
And yet, it wouldn’t be long until we had the chance to put that right. Our first league came unusually late in the 2010-1 season; 11 February, to be exact. At that point, our post-Christmas surge was underway and we ran out 3-1 winners at Vale Park. In the return fixture at the Lamex, our push for the playoffs was cemented with a 1-0 win. Our record against them is starting to sound good, right? But, hold up. That was the last time we got the better of them. Since then, we shared the spoils both times in the one season we shared in League One.
Last season, meanwhile, Vale again accounted for us at the first round stage of the FA Cup; this time at their place, with no last-gasp equaliser to save us. Where wast thou, brother Griffin?
Port Vale: And Then What?
In the season we were flushed out of League One, Port Vale finished a credible ninth. Since then, the forces of ‘being good at this football thing’ sucked them ever-closer to the same trap door we fell through. Last term, that pull was too much to resist. Now, then, the Valiants line up next to us once again in League Two. Judging by our current league head-to-head, we’ll surely fare alright when our paths cross next. That counts double if their woeful start to this campaign continues. Yet, this is football. And football never works like that…
Port Vale: Boro’s Record
P7 W2 D3 L2 F8 A7 – League Points: 8, Cup Meetings: 3, Win Rate: 29%
• BoroGuide’s Port Vale club profile – for old time’s sake…