2003–04 Port Vale F.C. season

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Port Vale
2003–04 season
Chairman England Bill Bratt
Manager England Brian Horton
(until February)
England Martin Foyle
(February onwards)
Stadium Vale Park
Football League Second Division 7th (73 Points)
FA Cup Second Round
League Cup First Round
League Trophy First Round
Player of the Year Scotland Stephen McPhee
Top goalscorer League: Stephen McPhee (25)
All: Stephen McPhee (27)
Highest home attendance 7,958 vs. Sheffield Wednesday (7 February 2004)
Lowest home attendance 4,016 vs. Ford United (8 November 2003)
Average home league attendance 5,810
Home colours

The 2003–04 season was Port Vale's ninety-second season of football in the Football League, and fourth successive season (forty-first overall) in the Second Division. Brian Horton resigned in February, and was replaced by Martin Foyle. Vale fought for promotion, but finished outside the play-off zone on goal difference. In the FA Cup, Vale narrowly avoided humiliation by beating non-league Ford United after the replay went to extra-time. However Vale exited at the Second Round with defeat to Conference club Scarborough, who also knocked the Vale out of the League Trophy at the First Round. Vale also left the League Cup at the First Round stage. Stephen McPhee was Player of the Year and top-scorer with 27 goals, but he left the club at the end of the season to play abroad. Financial problems still hounded the club, and Chairman Bill Bratt was desperate to attract investment from fans,[1] though he was unwilling to allow one person to have more than 50% of the club's shares.[2]

Overview[edit]

Second Division[edit]

The pre-season saw Brian Horton bring in three key players on free transfers: George Pilkington (Everton);[3] Jonny Brain (Newcastle United);[4] and Austrian Andreas Lipa (Skoda Xanthi).[5] Meanwhile promising keeper Mark Goodlad began a lengthy period of time on the sidelines with injuries.[6] Optimism surrounded the club, after the rebuilding of the new squad appeared to had finished after the break-up of the club's previous team due to financial troubles.[7]

The season opened with seven wins in eleven games, earning Brian Horton the Manager of the Month award.[8] Though this was followed by a sequence of five defeats in eight games as the goals dried up, this run included a 5–1 thumping at home to Plymouth Argyle. In November, back-up keeper Dean Delany joined Macclesfield Town on a two month loan. Vale then were in patchy form until March, though the side managed to do the double over Sheffield Wednesday. Brian Horton resigned in February, with the club in the play-offs.[9] His replacement was former Vale legend Martin Foyle, whose only previous experience was in the club's youth set-up.[10] As his assistant he appointed former teammate, Dean Glover, another club legend.[11] In March, Foyle made his first signing, bringing defender Craig James on loan from Sunderland,[12] and after a few weeks he signed him permanently.[13] Mark Boyd headed out of the club however, and was allowed to sign with Carlisle United. Vale lost just two of their final twelve games, and ran close to a play-off place, only losing out due to their inferior goal difference.

They finished in seventh place with 73 points. They were level on points with Hartlepool United and Swindon Town, but finished outside of the play-off zone due to their inferior goal difference. Stephen McPhee scored 27 goals to become the club's top-scorer, the highest tally since Andy Jones hit 37 in 1986–87. Other major contributions came from Billy Paynter (14), Steve Brooker (8), Marc Bridge-Wilkinson (7) and Adrian Littlejohn (7).

At the end of the season several players left the club: Neil Brisco (Rochdale); Liam Burns (Bristol Rovers); Adrian Littlejohn (Lincoln City); and Dean Delany (Shelbourne).[14] Stephen McPhee also decided to leave the club, and though Chairman Bill Bratt had rejected offers of £100,000 for the player,[15] McPhee exploited a loophole in his contract to join Portuguese side Beira-Mar.[16] Marc Bridge-Wilkinson also turned down a new lower-paying contract, and instead signed with Stockport County.[17] Player-coach Ian Brightwell also left Vale Park, having lost his assistant manager role to Glover,[18] and joined Horton at Macclesfield Town.[19] One boost was that Billy Paynter and George Pilkington put pen to paper on new long-term deals.[20]

Finances[edit]

Peter Walker was appointed as Chief Executive in August 2003, having volunteered to work for free for six months. One feature of the season proved to be the long-running courtroom battle between former chairman Bill Bell and owners Valiant2001 over unpaid rent on the club shop. The club's finances were still worrying for supporters, though the problem appeared to have eased by the end of the season.[21]

In December, a Peter Jackson led consortium put a £150,000 investment into the club, which Bratt said "...ensures the future of the club is safe".[22] The club also rejected other investment proposals from confidential sources.[23] Vice-chairman Charles Machin recommended the board sell the club to Italian businessman Gianni Paladini for £530,000, but the board disagreed.[24] In March 2004, Machin and director Geoff Wakefield were voted off the board, as the 'Jackson Five' clique elected Peter Jackson and Stan Meigh in their place.[24] Machin said that "I will not go away. I will haunt the corridors of power like Marley's ghost".[24] However he was never elected back onto the board.[24]

Cup competitions[edit]

In the FA Cup, Vale risked humiliation in a 2–2 draw with non-league Ford United at Vale Park.[25] In the replay, Vale had led 1–0 before a last minute equalizer took the game into extra time. Despite having substitute Ian Armstrong's sent off, the "Valiants" escaped the lottery of the penalty shoot-out when on 114 minutes Ford scored an own goal.[26] However in the Second Round they were still eliminated by a non-league club, when Scarborough's Ashley Sestanovich scored an 80th minute winner at Vale Park.[27] This meant Scarborough knocked Vale out of the second competition of the season despite playing two leagues below the Vale.

In the League Cup, Vale faced First Division Nottingham Forest. They held Forest to a goalless draw, but were eliminated 3–2 in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

In the League Trophy, Vale travelled to the McCain Stadium, where they were defeated 2–1 by Conference club Scarborough.[28]

Final league table[edit]

P W D L F A GD Pts
C 1 Plymouth Argyle 46 26 12 8 85 41 +44 90
P 2 Queens Park Rangers 46 22 17 7 80 45 +35 83
  3 Bristol City 46 23 13 10 58 37 +21 82
P 4 Brighton & Hove Albion 46 22 11 13 64 43 +21 77
  5 Swindon Town 46 20 13 13 76 58 +18 73
  6 Hartlepool United 46 20 13 13 76 61 +15 73
  7 Port Vale 46 21 10 15 73 63 +10 73
  8 Tranmere Rovers 46 17 16 13 59 56 +3 67
  9 A.F.C. Bournemouth 46 17 15 14 56 51 +5 66
  10 Luton Town 46 17 15 14 69 66 +3 66
  11 Colchester United 46 17 13 16 52 56 -4 64
  12 Barnsley 46 15 17 14 54 58 -4 62
  13 Wrexham 46 17 9 20 50 60 -10 60
  14 Blackpool 46 16 11 19 58 65 -7 59
  15 Oldham Athletic 46 12 21 13 66 60 +6 57
  16 Sheffield Wednesday 46 13 14 19 48 64 -18 53
  17 Brentford 46 14 11 21 52 69 -17 53
  18 Peterborough United 46 12 16 18 58 58 0 52
  19 Stockport County 46 11 19 16 62 70 -8 52
  20 Chesterfield 46 12 15 19 49 71 -22 51
R 21 Grimsby Town 46 13 11 22 55 81 -26 50
R 22 Rushden & Diamonds 46 13 9 24 60 74 -14 48
R 23 Notts County 46 10 12 24 50 78 -28 42
R 24 Wycombe Wanderers 46 6 19 21 50 75 -25 37

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; 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 H A A H H A A H H A A H A H A A H A H H H A H H A A A A H H A H H A H A H A H A
Result W W W L W D W L W D W L L L W D L W L D D W D L W W L L W W L W L L D W D W D L W L D W W W
Position 8 2 1 4 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 3 3 6 3 4 7 5 7 7 5 7 8 12 6 4 9 9 7 5 7 5 7 9 9 7 9 7 6 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Sourced from Statto.[29]

Football League Second Division[edit]

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
9 August 2003 A.F.C. Bournemouth H 2–1 6,465 McPhee, Littlejohn
16 August 2003 Grimsby Town A 2–1 4,816 McPhee, Paynter
23 August 2003 Colchester United H 4–3 5,133 Collins, Paynter, Armstrong, McPhee
25 August 2003 Hartlepool United A 0–2 5,314
30 August 2003 Brentford H 1–0 5,257 Paynter
6 September 2003 Stockport County A 2–2 5,316 Paynter, Collins
13 September 2003 Barnsley H 3–1 7,809 Lipa, Pilkington, Littlejohn
16 September 2003 Luton Town A 0–2 5,079
20 September 2003 Bristol City A 1–0 11,369 Paynter
27 September 2003 Wycombe Wanderers H 1–1 6,822 McPhee
30 September 2003 Peterborough United H 3–0 5,495 McPhee (2), Collins
4 October 2003 Wrexham A 1–2 5,822 Paynter
11 October 2003 Oldham Athletic A 1–2 6,913 Bridge-Wilkinson (pen)
18 October 2003 Plymouth Argyle H 1–5 5,786 McPhee
21 October 2003 Queens Park Rangers H 2–0 5,243 Paynter, McPhee
25 October 2003 Swindon Town A 0–0 5,313
1 November 2003 Chesterfield A 0–1 4,088
15 November 2003 Notts County H 1–0 4,900 McPhee
22 November 2003 Tranmere Rovers A 0–1 7,081
29 November 2003 Rushden & Diamonds H 1–1 4,586 Littlejohn
12 December 2003 Brighton & Hove Albion A 1–1 5,811 Littlejohn
26 December 2003 Sheffield Wednesday A 3–2 24,991 Littlejohn, Paynter, Brooker
28 December 2003 Stockport County H 2–2 6,237 McPhee (2)
10 January 2004 A.F.C. Bournemouth A 1–2 5,926 McPhee
14 January 2004 Blackpool H 2–1 4,523 Brooker, Bridge-Wilkinson
17 January 2004 Grimsby Town H 5–1 5,133 Bridge-Wilkinson (2), Lipa, Collins, Paynter
27 January 2004 Hartlepool United H 2–5 4,845 Brooker, Cummins
31 January 2004 Brentford A 2–3 4,306 McPhee (2)
7 February 2004 Sheffield Wednesday H 3–0 7,958 Littlejohn, McPhee, Brooker
14 February 2004 Oldham Athletic H 1–0 6,035 McPhee
21 February 2004 Plymouth Argyle A 1–2 11,330 McPhee
24 February 2004 Colchester United A 4–1 2,539 Brooker, Brown (og), Cummins, Bridge-Wilkinson
2 March 2004 Queens Park Rangers A 2–3 12,593 Brooker, Littlejohn
6 March 2004 Blackpool A 1–2 6,878 Paynter
13 March 2004 Brighton & Hove Albion H 1–1 5,646 Paynter
16 March 2004 Luton Town H 1–0 5,048 Cummins
20 March 2004 Barnsley A 0–0 8,267
27 March 2004 Bristol City H 2–1 6,724 Brooker, Bridge-Wilkinson
30 March 2004 Swindon Town H 3–3 5,702 McPhee (2), Paynter
3 April 2004 Wycombe Wanderers A 1–2 4,738 McPhee
10 April 2004 Wrexham H 1–0 5,892 Cummins
12 April 2004 Peterborough United A 1–3 4,988 Bridge-Wilkinson
17 April 2004 Chesterfield H 1–1 5,582 Paynter
24 April 2004 Notts County A 2–1 5,834 McPhee, Brooker
1 May 2004 Tranmere Rovers H 2–1 6,806 McPhee (2)
8 May 2004 Rushden & Diamonds A 2–0 5,240 McPhee (2)

FA Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 8 November 2003 Ford United H 2–2 4,016 McPhee, Burns
R1 Replay 19 November 2003 Ford United A 2–1 ? Paynter, Chandler (og)
R2 7 December 2003 Scarborough H 0–1 4,651

League Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 12 October 2003 Nottingham Forest H (2)0–0(3) 4,950

League Trophy[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers
R1 14 October 2003 Scarborough A 1–2 1,003 McPhee

Player statistics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Axe hovers over Valiants". BBC Sport. 10 December 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Vale fans fail to buy club". BBC Sport. 22 December 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Vale land Pilkington". BBC Sport. 24 June 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Vale sign young keeper". BBC Sport. 22 August 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Vale net Lipa". BBC Sport. 9 June 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Goodlad blow for Vale". BBC Sport. 24 July 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Port Vale season preview". BBC Sport. 5 August 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Valiant Horton Picks Up Prize". LMA. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Horton leaves Port Vale". BBC Sport. 12 February 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Port Vale appoint Foyle". BBC Sport. 13 February 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Glover back at Vale". BBC Sport. 16 February 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "James joins Vale on loan". BBC Sport. 19 March 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "James signs Vale contract". BBC Sport. 2 April 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Foyle releases Vale trio". BBC Sport. 11 May 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "Vale reject McPhee offer". BBC Sport. 4 June 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  16. ^ "McPhee moving to Portugal". BBC Sport. 17 June 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  17. ^ "Bridge-Wilkinson makes move". BBC Sport. 8 June 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  18. ^ "Vale search for new coach". BBC Sport. 26 May 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  19. ^ "Brightwell leaves Vale". BBC Sport. 25 May 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "Duo boost Port Vale". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  21. ^ "Financial boost for Vale". BBC Sport. 14 May 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  22. ^ "Consortium saves Port Vale". BBC Sport. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  23. ^ "Vale set for takeover talks". BBC Sport. 15 December 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d What If There Had Been No Port In The Vale?: Startling Port Vale Stories! p.179 (Witan Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9529152-8-7)
  25. ^ "Port Vale 2-2 Ford Utd". BBC Sport. 8 November 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  26. ^ "Ford Utd 1-2 Port Vale (aet)". BBC Sport. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  27. ^ "Port Vale 0-1 Scarborough". BBC Sport. 7 December 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  28. ^ "Scarborough 2-1 Port Vale". BBC Sport. 14 October 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Port Vale 2003–2004 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.