Exeter City are back on their travels this weekend with the trip to Stoke on-Trent, taking on high-flying Port Vale.
Catch up with all you need to know about the Valiants.
- Founded: 1876
- Nicknames: The Valiants
- Honours: Football League Trophy (1992/93, 2000/01), Third Division (1929/30, 1953/54), Fourth Division (1958/59).
- Home Kit: ERREA White shirt with gold trims, white shorts and socks.
- Away Kit: ERREA gold shirt with black trim, gold shorts, yellow socks.
- Form: LLWWL (3rd in League Two)
Formed in 1876, Port Vale Football Club took its name from the venue of the inaugural meeting at ‘Port Vale House’ situated in Stoke-on-Trent. The club first competed in the Midland League before becoming founding members of the Football League Second Division in 1892.
Vale spent 13 non-consecutive seasons in the division, punctuated by two seasons back in the Midland League, however had to resign from the league system due to financial difficulties and entered liquidation in 1907. The name Port Vale continued as a new club in the North Staffordshire Federation League up until 1919 when they were reinstated into the Football League following the expulsion of Leeds City.
The club spent the next 39 years fluctuating between the second and third divisions, most notably winning the Third Division North title in 1929/30 and in 1953/54, as well as reaching the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in its history in the latter season.
John Rudge was appointed as manager in 1983 and stepped up to become Vale’s longest-serving and most successful manager, leading the club up to the turn of the millenium. Under his leadership the club won promotions in 1985/86, 1988/89 and 1993/94, won the Football League Trophy in 1993 and reached a post-war record eight placed finish in the second tier in 1996/97.
In a rather remarkable 2012/13 season Micky Adams won automatic promotion to League One with fan favourite Tom Pope scoring 33 goals despite Port Vale still being in administration. The Valiants would stay in League One until 2017 after new manager Bruno Ribiero and replacement caretaker manager Michael Brown failed to avoid relegation back down to League Two after three seasons previously of pushing for promotion to the Championship.
Vale were many people’s dark horses for promotion this season and have begun the season in the same rich vein of form which led to the same plaudits. They sit in third going into Saturday’s match against City just two points above the Grecians.
The 43-year-old started the season at Walsall, but the Saddlers slide found him out of favour at the Bescot Stadium. He joined Port Vale after management spells in the Westcountry, at Salisbury City and Bristol Rovers. Clarke had an 18-year playing career, most notably at Mansfield and Hartlepool. He left Pools in 2007 to join Salisbury and he took over as a player manager in 2010.
In March 2014 Clarke became first team manager of Bristol Rovers, after John Ward was moved to the boardroom. He wasn’t able to keep the Gas up and spent the 2014/15 season in the Conference. Clarke guided Rovers to the Play-off final the same season, defeating Grimsby on penalties- as the Pirates became the first team in 10 years to bounce straight back into the Football League.
Rovers catapulted into League One the following season as Clarke secured a third-place promotion into League One. Clarke has a strong managerial record against Exeter, only losing once as a manager- when the Devon side beat Bristol Rovers 2-0 in the EFL Trophy in 2018.
- Name: Vale Park
- Capacity: 19,052
- Year opened: 1950
- Record Attendance: 49,768 (v Aston Villa, FA Cup 5th Round, 20th February 1960)
- Address: Hamil Road, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 1AW
In 1944, Vale were evicted from the Old Recreational Ground by the local council and had to break ground in a former clay pit in Burslem. The development was known locally as the Wembley of the North due to the sheer size of the project which included and 80,000-seater stadium with a 1,000-space-strong car park. Ultimately, the stadium was finished in 1950 with a modest 40,000 seats instead.
The capacity has of course declined over the years, most notably in the late-90’s when Vale’s continuous push for the Championship forced the club to renovated Vale Park into an all-seater stadium.
In 1981, the ground hosted a huge Heavy Metal concert consisting of Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and in 2017 hosted its first full international game, when England Women played Italy.
Ones To Watch
With seven goals from central midfield, Ben Garrity has be the main man in the middle from the Valiants this season.
The Vale number eight has scored four in his last three going into Saturday’s game and has been a constant threat going forward this season. Having started his career at Blackpool, Garrity made nearly forty appearences for Oldham prior to moving to Vale Park.
He’s currently enjoying his highest scoring season, having only scored four goals prior to this year in total. Dictating play in the middle Garrity, has popped up as a fox in the box in recent weeks so the City defence need to keep an eye on his late dashes.
Head to Head
Vale have certainly been one of our toughest adversaries in our 83-year rivalry. The Valiants have comfortably bettered Exeter in the last three games and have much momentum ahead of Saturday.
City haven’t won at Vale Park for three years, when a Jordan Storey goal proved the difference, but even that ended a five year wait for victory in Staffordshire.
Port Vale wins: 27
Exeter City wins: 19
Port Vale 1 Exeter City 0 | League Two | Vale Park | April 2, 2021
City fell to defeat in the late season encounter last term.
Exeter City 0 Port Vale 2 | League Two | St James Park | September 19, 2020
Tom Conlon and Devante Rodney proved the difference as Vale ended Exeter’s near year-long home record.
Port Vale 3 Exeter City 1 | League Two | Vale Park | January 28, 2020
Nicky Ajose’s early strike deemed just a consoling highlight as Vale came from behind to take all three points.
Since March 2020, when the first Coronavirus lockdown was announced, the Port Vale Community Hub has been helping communities across Stoke-on-Trent – delivering more than 170,000 meals to local families in need.