1997–98 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
1997–98 season
Chairman England Bill Bell
Manager England John Rudge
Stadium Vale Park
Football League First Division 19th (49 Points)
FA Cup Third Round
League Cup First Round
Player of the Year England 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
Home colours

The 1997–98 season was Port Vale's eighty-sixth season of football in the 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.

Overview[edit]

First Division[edit]

The pre-season saw the arrival of Swedish midfielder Jan Jansson from IFK Norrköping for a £200,000 fee. Dutch defender Mark Snijders also signed from AZ.

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 £450,000. 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 Victoria Ground. 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.

Finances[edit]

The club's shirt sponsors were Tunstall Assurance.

Cup competitions[edit]

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.[1]

In the League Cup, Second Division York City eliminated the Vale with a 3–2 aggregate victory.

Final league table[edit]

Pos Team P W D L F A Pts
1. Nottingham Forest 46 28 10 8 82 42 94
2. Middlesbrough 46 27 10 9 77 41 91
3. Sunderland 46 26 12 8 86 50 90
4. Charlton Athletic 46 26 10 10 80 49 88
5. Ipswich Town 46 23 14 9 77 43 83
6. Sheffield United 46 19 17 10 69 54 74
7. Birmingham City 46 19 17 10 60 35 74
8. Stockport County 46 19 8 19 71 69 65
9. Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 18 11 17 57 53 65
10. West Bromwich Albion 46 16 13 17 50 56 61
11. Crewe Alexandra 46 18 5 23 58 65 59
12. Oxford United 46 16 10 20 60 64 58
13. Bradford City 46 14 15 17 46 59 57
14. Tranmere Rovers 46 14 14 18 54 57 56
15. Norwich City 46 14 13 19 52 69 55
16. Huddersfield Town 46 14 11 21 50 72 53
17. Bury 46 11 19 16 42 58 52
18. Swindon Town 46 14 10 22 42 73 52
19. Port Vale 46 13 10 23 56 66 49
20. Queens Park Rangers 46 10 19 17 51 63 49
21. Portsmouth 46 13 10 23 51 63 49
22. Manchester City 46 12 12 22 56 57 48
23. Stoke City 46 11 13 22 44 74 46
24. Reading 46 11 9 26 39 78 42

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; 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 A H A A H H A A H H A H A A H H A H A H A H A H H A A H H A A H H A H A A H A H A H A
Result L L W D W L W D W L L D W L D W W L D L L L L L L L W L L D D L W L D L W W D L W D L L L W
Position 20 22 14 17 11 14 9 11 8 8 11 14 8 13 14 10 7 11 9 11 13 14 17 18 18 20 18 19 21 20 21 21 21 21 24 24 23 19 20 20 18 17 19 20 20 19

Sourced from Statto.[2]

Football League First Division[edit]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
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

FA Cup[edit]

Main article: 1997–98 FA Cup
Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R3 3 January 1998 Arsenal A 0–0 37,471
R3 Replay 14 January 1998 Arsenal H (3)1–1(4) 14,964 Corden

League Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
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

Player statistics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sports photographs from our archives". The Sentinel. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Port Vale 1997–1998 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.