1973–74 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1973–74 season
Chairman England Mark Singer
Manager England Gordon Lee
(until January)
England Roy Sproson
(January onwards)
Stadium Vale Park
Football League Third Division 20th (42 Points)
FA Cup Third Round
League Cup First Round
Player of the Year England David Harris
Top goalscorer League: John Woodward (16)
All: John Woodward (18)
Highest home attendance 8,505 vs. Bristol Rovers (17 February 1974)
Lowest home attendance 2,556 vs. Charlton Athletic (27 April 1974)
Average home league attendance 3,959
Home colours

The 1973–74 season was Port Vale's sixty-second season of football in the Football League, and their fourth successive season (tenth overall) in the Third Division.[1] They finished in twentieth spot, though were seven points clear of relegation. Manager Gordon Lee left the club in January, and was replaced by club legend Roy Sproson.

Overview[edit]

Third Division[edit]

The pre-season saw Sammy Morgan sold to Aston Villa for £22,222 (plus top-up fees).[1] Gordon Lee drafted in tall young players David Harris and John Ridley from the youth set-up, as well as versatile Keith Chadwick from Crewe Alexandra.[1] The club also erected a 2.5 feet high steel fence around the Bycars End to help combat hooliganism.[1]

The season opened with four games unbeaten, though Tommy McLaren soon damaged his ligaments, and the team suffered in his absence.[1] On 1 October, Vale beat Wrexham 1–0 in an 'ugly' game that saw five players booked and Colin Tartt and opposition player Arfon Griffiths separated by police following a scrap in the tunnel.[1] Later in the month Roy Cross badly injured his knee, and would later have to leave the professional game due to the injury.[1] Vale slipped down the league, and by Christmas they were sixth from bottom, with only John Woodward in good form.[1] Lee then took out striker Keith Leonard on loan from Aston Villa, and bought left-back Neil Griffiths from Chester for a £5,000 fee.[1] He also changed the formation from 4–4–2 to 4–3–3, hoping to give Brian Horton more room in the centre of the park.[1] After an upturn in form in the new year, Bill Summerscales broke his neck, and Lee departed for the management position at Blackburn Rovers.[1] Lee had been seen to have done an excellent job with little money.[1] In his place club legend Roy Sproson was appointed as caretaker manager, who advocated an 'entertaining' style of play as opposed to battling for every point.[1] Winning his first match 1–0 at Shrewsbury Town, he cracked his head on the concrete trainer's box after leaping up to celebrate McLaren's goal.[1] On 17 February, 8,505 turned up at Vale Park to witness a 3–1 win over high-flying Bristol Rovers in an experimental Sunday game.[1] Later Leonard returned to Villa Park at the end of his loan deal, and £5,000 was not enough to tempt Villa to part with his services permanently.[1] From mid-March Vale went eleven games without a win, and on 25 March they could have ended this run, but 'a shocking mistake' from Alan Boswell handed Walsall an equalizer as he palmed a header into his own net.[1] The team continued to rack up yellow cards, and following a warning from The Football Association, Sproson arranged for local referee Roy Capey to lecture the players on sportsmanship.[1] In the middle of April, Sproson was given the management job on a permanent basis, despite his team falling to fifth from bottom.[1] Sproson stated that he was 'calculated' and 'controlled', compared to Lee who 'fizzes like a bottle of pop'.[1] By the time they broke their poor run with a 2–1 home win over managerless Charlton Athletic, other results had already ensured their safety from the drop.[1]

They finished in twentieth position with 42 points, though this meant they were seven points clear of relegated Cambridge United in 21st place.[1]

Finances[edit]

On the financial side, an average home attendance of under 4,000 failed to prevent a profit of £17,831.[1] This profit came from the early sale of Morgan, and donations of £16,443 from the Sportsmen's Association and the Development Fund.[1] The club's total debt stood at £121,647, as Chairman Singer warned of more player sales to balance the books.[1] Two players leaving for free at the end of the season were Bobby Gough (Southport) and Alan Boswell (Oswestry Town) – Boswell was described as 'capable of brilliant saves and conceding soft goals'.[1]

Cup competitions[edit]

In the FA Cup, Vale won away at Stockport County 1–0, before advancing past Northern Premier League Scarborough in the Second Round. After a 1–1 draw in Burslem with Second Division Luton Town, they lost the replay at Kenilworth Road 4–2.

In the League Cup, Vale exited at the first stage with a 2–0 defeat at Edgeley Park to Fourth Division Stockport County.

Final league table[edit]

P W D L F A GA Pts
1 Oldham Athletic 46 25 12 9 83 47 1.766 62
2 Bristol Rovers 46 22 17 7 65 33 1.970 61
3 York City 46 21 19 6 67 38 1.763 61
4 Wrexham 46 22 12 12 63 43 1.465 56
5 Chesterfield 46 21 14 11 55 42 1.310 56
6 Grimsby Town 46 18 15 13 67 50 1.340 51
7 Watford 46 19 12 15 64 56 1.143 50
8 Aldershot 46 19 11 16 65 52 1.250 49
9 Halifax Town 46 14 21 11 48 51 0.941 49
10 Huddersfield Town 46 17 13 16 56 55 1.018 47
11 Bournemouth 46 16 15 15 54 58 0.931 47
12 Southend United 46 16 14 16 62 62 1.000 46
13 Blackburn Rovers 46 18 10 18 62 64 0.969 46
14 Charlton Athletic 46 19 8 19 66 73 0.904 46
15 Walsall 46 16 13 17 57 48 1.188 45
16 Tranmere Rovers 46 15 15 16 50 44 1.136 45
17 Plymouth Argyle 46 17 10 19 59 54 1.093 44
18 Hereford United 46 14 15 17 53 57 0.930 43
19 Brighton & Hove Albion 46 16 11 19 52 58 0.897 43
20 Port Vale 46 14 14 18 52 58 0.897 42
21 Cambridge United 46 13 9 24 48 81 0.593 35
22 Shrewsbury Town 46 10 11 25 41 62 0.661 31
23 Southport 46 6 16 24 35 82 0.427 28
24 Rochdale 46 2 17 27 38 94 0.404 21

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GA = Goal average; Pts = Points

Results[edit]

Port Vale's score comes first

Legend[edit]

Win Draw Loss
Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
Ground H A H H A A H A H H A H A A H A H A A H H A A H H A H H A H A H H A A H H A A A H H A A H A
Result W D W W L D D L W L D D L L W D L L L D L W L W D W W W L W L W W D L L D D L D D L L L W D
Position 1 5 5 2 5 3 4 7 4 9 11 11 12 15 14 15 16 17 17 16 18 16 17 16 18 14 13 12 13 12 14 11 9 10 13 15 14 15 16 18 19 20 20 20 20 20

Sourced from Statto.[2]

Football League Third Division[edit]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
25 August 1973 Shrewsbury Town H 3–0 3,717 Horton, Mountford, Woodward
1 September 1973 Oldham Athletic A 1–1 5,716 Lacey
8 September 1973 Huddersfield Town H 4–2 5,003 Woodward (2), Mountford, McLaren
10 September 1973 Cambridge United H 2–1 5,829 Horton (pen), Gough
15 September 1973 York City A 1–3 3,370 Williams
17 September 1973 Wrexham A 0–0 7,730
22 September 1973 Southend United H 0–0 4,323
29 September 1973 Chesterfield A 1–2 4,754 o.g.
1 October 1973 Wrexham H 1–0 4,791 Brodie
6 October 1973 Hereford United H 1–3 5,802 Woodward
13 October 1973 Bristol Rovers A 1–1 8,880 McLaren
20 October 1973 Bournemouth H 0–0 4,006
24 October 1973 Cambridge United A 2–4 3,612 Lacey, Woodward
27 October 1973 Plymouth Argyle A 0–2 9,383
3 November 1973 Rochdale H 3–1 3,223 Williams (2), Woodward
10 November 1973 Aldershot A 0–0 3,577
12 November 1973 Blackburn Rovers H 1–2 3,633 Woodward
17 November 1973 Halifax Town A 0–1 2,255
1 December 1973 Charlton Athletic A 0–2 4,390
8 December 1973 Grimsby Town H 1–1 3,157 Woodward
22 December 1973 Chesterfield H 0–1 2,916
26 December 1973 Southport A 1–0 2,721 Williams
29 December 1973 Huddersfield Town H 0–3 7,702
1 January 1974 Oldham Athletic H 3–0 4,300 Woodward (2), Williams
12 January 1974 York City H 2–2 3,537 Woodward, Williams
19 January 1974 Shrewsbury Town A 1–0 2,771 McLaren
26 January 1974 Tranmere Rovers H 1–0 3,004 Harris
2 February 1974 Brighton & Hove Albion H 2–1 3,728 Horton, Williams
9 February 1974 Southend United A 0–1 4,376
17 February 1974 Bristol Rovers H 3–1 8,505 Williams (2), Leonard
23 February 1974 Hereford United A 1–2 6,565 Woodward
2 March 1974 Southport H 2–1 3,220 o.g., Gough
10 March 1974 Plymouth Argyle H 2–1 3,128 Woodward (2)
16 March 1974 Bournemouth A 2–2 7,968 o.g., Harris
20 March 1974 Brighton & Hove Albion A 1–2 9,365 Harris
23 March 1974 Aldershot H 0–1 3,254
25 March 1974 Walsall H 1–1 3,659 Lacey
30 March 1974 Rochdale A 1–1 982 Mountford
1 April 1974 Tranmere Rovers A 0–3 3,050
6 April 1974 Blackburn Rovers A 1–1 5,298 Mountford
13 April 1974 Halifax Town H 1–1 2,707 McLaren
16 April 1974 Watford H 1–2 3,056 Horton
20 April 1974 Grimsby Town A 0–2 6,443
24 April 1974 Watford A 1–2 5,883 o.g.
27 April 1974 Charlton Athletic H 3–1 2,556 Woodward (2), Ridley
30 April 1974 Walsall A 0–0 4,228

FA Cup[edit]

Main article: 1973–74 FA Cup
Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 24 November 1973 Stockport County A 1–0 3,364 Summerscales
R2 15 December 1973 Scarborough H 2–1 3,528 Harris, Woodward
R3 5 January 1974 Luton Town H 1–1 8,127 Harris
R3 Replay 9 January 1974 Luton Town A 2–4 5,833 Mountford, Woodward

League Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 29 August 1973 Stockport County A 0–2 3,314

Player statistics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Kent, Jeff (1990). "Surviving on a Shoestring (1969–1979)". The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 227–257. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7. 
  2. ^ Port Vale 1973–1974 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  • Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879-1993. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8.