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🔎 The Opposition: Port Vale (A)

All you need to know about Good Friday's opponents

30 March 2021

Easter weekend kicks off on Good Friday as Exeter City are back on the hunt for three points against Port Vale.

Here’s an outlook of our hosts ahead of this egg-citing encounter… 

  • 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 Chessboard shirt with yellow trim, black shorts and socks.
  • Away Kit: ERREA Charcoal shirt, charcoal shorts and socks.
  • Form: DLWWW (18th 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 began the season in the same rich vein of form which led to the same plaudits. However, a slide down the table has extinguished any hopes. They do go into Good Friday’s fixture on the back of a three-game winning streak that City will need to be wary of if they want to avoid a Last Supper.

The Manager

Darrell Clarke

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.

Darrell Clarke.JPG

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 bunny-hopped 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.

The Stadium

  • 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.

Vale Park.jpg

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 it’s first full international game, when England Women played Italy. 

One to Watch 

Devante Rodney

The Valiants’ main man this campaign has bagged 11 goals and three assists to his name. The 22-year-old came through the ranks at Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday. In 2017 he was snapped up by Hartlepool United and scored four goals in 45 appearences for the Pools.

Devante Rodney.jpg

Salford City managed to win the race to his signature in 2018, where he stayed for two years- though outward loans to Halifax and Stockport took up the bulk of his time at Moor Lane.

In July he moved swiftly onto Port Vale where he has started to show the promising signs, he displayed in the Man City youth side. With a goal against Exeter already this season, Rodney is a strong, pacey centre-forward and has all the capabilities to crucify the Grecians given the chance.  

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 two games and have much momentum ahead of Friday.

But as Judas Iscariot springs to mind, will Vale’s recent form also betray them for the Grecians to nip in and steal all three points?

  • Exeter City wins: 19
  • Draws: 12
  • Port Vale wins: 26

Recent encounters

Exeter City 0-2 Port Vale | 19/9/20 | League Two

Tom Conlon and Devante Rodney proved the difference as Vale ended Exeter’s near year-long home record.

Port Vale 3-1 Exeter City | 28/01/2020 | League Two

In the second encounter between the two sides during the 2019/20 season, goals from Ritchie Bennett (2) and Leon Legge (1) secured victory for Port Vale as they came from behind following Nicky Ajose’s opener. 

Exeter City 2-0 Port Vale | 17/9/19 | League Two

Ryan Bowman and Lee Martin were on target as Exeter maintained their early season momentum.

And Finally

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.

How to Watch 


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