1955–56 Port Vale F.C. season

Port Vale
1955–56 season
Chairman Fred Burgess
Manager Freddie Steele
Stadium Vale Park
Football League Second Division 12th (45 Points)
FA Cup Fourth Round
Top goalscorer League: Cyril Done/Len Stephenson (12)
All: Len Stephenson (14)
Highest home attendance 44,278 vs. Everton (28 January 1956)
Lowest home attendance 11,781 vs. Middlesbrough (28 April 1956)
Average home league attendance 18,985
Home colours

The 1955–56 season was Port Vale's 44th season of football in the Football League, and their second successive season (thirty-first overall) in the Second Division.[1] Gaining ten points on their previous season's total, the club progressed well, achieving their best finish since 1933–34. Finishing one place above rivals Stoke City, it was the first time they outperformed Stoke since 1930–31. Part of the promotion-chasing pack at the season's end, they tailed off with four points from six games as Leeds United finished strongly to end up second. Vale's season was built on the defensive strength of the legendary 1953–54 season, along with record-signing England international Eddie Baily.


Second Division

The pre-season saw Stan Turner and Ken Griffiths undergo operations, keeping them out of action for the start of the campaign.[1]

The season began with just one loss in the opening eleven games, including victories at Upton Park and Craven Cottage, and a 1–0 home win over rivals Stoke City in front of a crowd of 37,261.[1] Nevertheless injuries began to affect the first eleven, leaving room for reserves like Derek Mountford, Stan Smith, and Tom Conway to make an impression.[1] The 'Steele Curtain' defence was still in operation, picking up five clean sheets in these eleven games.[1] Journalist Bernard Jones compared 'the Vale Plan' to the Brazilian method of defence, defending the penalty area at all costs as that was from where 95% of all goals were scored.[1] However manager Freddie Steele responded by claiming there was no such plan, and that the main objective was simply 'to beat the opposition'.[1] On 22 October, Sheffield Wednesday went away from Vale Park with a 1–0 win, this was followed with a 4–1 defeat at Filbert Street.[1] Steele began to initiate a modern pre-match ritual of having the players warm up in their tracksuits fifteen minutes before kick-off, though on 12 November this did them no favours at Ewood Park, as Blackburn Rovers romped to a 7–1 victory.[1] Steele made eight changes following the defeat, which made little difference as Vale extended their run without a win to nine games.[1] This left them in fifteenth place by mid-December, with a host of players out with injuries.[1]

Cyril Done's return to match fitness was marked with a 2–1 win at the Memorial Stadium, beginning a sequence of one defeat in ten games.[1] This left them in seventh place by February, in with a shot of promotion.[1] In January, Eddie Baily was signed from Tottenham Hotspur for a club-record £7,000.[1] Signing an inside-forward who was part of England's 1950 FIFA World Cup squad was a sign of the club's ambitions for top-flight football.[1] Outclassed by Wednesday on 3 March, they lost 4–0 at Hillsborough, but followed this with wins over Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City.[1] On 31 March they came to a 'hard-fought' 1–1 draw at Stoke's Victoria Ground, which left the "Valiants" in fifth place, level on points with second-placed Liverpool.[1] In with a great chance of promotion by April, defeats at home to Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, and a 4–1 beating at Anfield ruined their chances.[1] Harry Poole made his debut on the last day of the season, as Vale recorded a 3–2 win over Middlesbrough.[1]

They finished in twelfth position with 45 points, one point and one position above rivals Stoke.[1] The Steele Curtain boasted the best defensive record in the division, though only the bottom five scored fewer goals.[1]


On the financial side, a loss was made of £4,974, blamed upon a 'crippling burden' of £12,422 in entertainment tax.[1] Home attendances were down by around 2,000 a game to 18,985, leaving gate receipts at £60,784.[1] Steele retained thirty professionals, releasing Albert Mullard and Ray Hancock (Northwich Victoria), and Tom Conway (Leek Town).[1]

Cup competitions

In the FA Cup, Vale narrowly defeated Third Division South Walsall 1–0 at Fellows Park to win a Fourth Round tie with First Division Everton.[1] A crowd of 44,278 saw 'a match that had everything', as the "Toffees" escaped with a 3–2 victory, Vale having had two goals disallowed.[1]

Final league table

1Sheffield Wednesday4221138101621.62955
2Leeds United422361380601.33352
4Blackburn Rovers422161584651.29248
5Leicester City422161594781.20548
6Bristol Rovers422161584701.20048
7Nottingham Forest421991468631.07947
8Lincoln City4218101479651.21546
10Swansea Town422061683811.02546
11Bristol City421971680641.25045
12Port Vale4216131360581.03445
13Stoke City422041871621.14544
16West Ham United4214111774691.07239
17Doncaster Rovers4212111969960.71935
19Rotherham United421292156750.74733
20Notts County421192255820.67131
21Plymouth Argyle421082454870.62128
22Hull City421062653970.54626

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


Port Vale's score comes first


Win Draw Loss
Result D W L W W D W W D W D L L D L L D D L W W L W D D W D W D L W L W L W W D D L L L W
Position 10 4 11 4 3 7 7 4 5 3 2 6 8 8 10 13 12 12 14 12 11 12 11 11 10 8 9 8 7 7 6 8 6 7 6 4 5 4 7 9 10 12

Sourced from Statto.[2]

Football League Second Division

20 August 1955 Bristol RoversH1–121,270Cunliffe
22 August 1955 West Ham UnitedH2–119,259Stephenson, Leake
27 August 1955 Rotherham UnitedA0–111,994
29 August 1955 West Ham UnitedA2–013,052Smith, Done
3 September 1955 Swansea TownH3–021,769Cunliffe, Conway, Done
10 September 1955 Notts CountyA0–014,733
17 September 1955 Leeds UnitedH2–021,348Sproson, Done
24 September 1955 FulhamA4–125,363Conway (2), Smith, Done
1 October 1955 BuryH1–120,691Leake
8 October 1955 Stoke CityH1–037,261Done
15 October 1955 Plymouth ArgyleA1–117,124Cunliffe
22 October 1955 Sheffield WednesdayH0–123,139
29 October 1955 Leicester CityA1–426,496Stephenson
5 November 1955 Lincoln CityH1–116,561Stephenson
12 November 1955 Blackburn RoversA1–725,464Leake
19 November 1955 Hull CityH0–117,778
26 November 1955 Nottingham ForestA2–29,533Conway, Cunliffe
3 December 1955 LiverpoolH1–116,919Stephenson
10 December 1955 Doncaster RoversA0–37,351
17 December 1955 Bristol RoversA2–119,144Cunliffe, Stephenson
24 December 1955 Rotherham UnitedH4–113,023Stephenson (2), Done (2)
26 December 1955 BarnsleyH1–219,130Done
27 December 1955 BarnsleyA2–122,067Stephenson (2)
31 December 1955 Swansea TownA0–024,661
2 January 1956 MiddlesbroughA1–121,664Mullard
14 January 1956 Notts CountyH3–117,370Cunliffe, Done (pen), Baily
21 January 1956 Leeds UnitedA1–123,680Griffiths
4 February 1956 FulhamH2–113,234Baily, Griffiths
11 February 1956 BuryA2–210,881Griffiths, Stephenson
18 February 1956 Hull CityA1–16,884Baily
25 February 1956 Plymouth ArgyleH3–114,336Griffiths (3)
3 March 1956 Sheffield WednesdayA0–429,789
10 March 1956 Doncaster RoversH2–016,389Baily, Cunliffe
17 March 1956 Lincoln CityA0–110,635
24 March 1956 Blackburn RoversH4–115,217Stephenson (2), Leake, Smith
30 March 1956 Bristol CityH2–024,900Smith (2)
31 March 1956 Stoke CityA1–137,928Griffiths
2 April 1956 Bristol CityA0–024,348
7 April 1956 Nottingham ForestH0–223,018
14 April 1956 LiverpoolA1–429,413Baily
21 April 1956 Leicester CityH2–314,302Done (pen), Baily
28 April 1956 MiddlesbroughH3–211,781Done (2), Baily

FA Cup

Main article: 1955–56 FA Cup
R37 January 1956 WalsallA1–021,836Stephenson
R428 January 1956 EvertonH2–344,278Stephenson, Sproson

Player statistics


Pos. Name Football League FA Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GKEngland Ray King 39020410
GKEngland Ray Hancock 200020
GKEngland John Poole 100010
DFEngland Tommy Cheadle 19000190
DFEngland Reg Potts 42020440
DFEngland Roy Sproson 42121442
DFEngland Stan Turner 26020280
MFEngland Alan Bennett 700070
MFEngland Albert Leake 36420384
MFEngland John Cunliffe 39720417
MFEngland Derek Mountford 15000150
MFEngland Albert Mullard 611071
MFEngland Colin Askey 24020260
FWEngland Basil Hayward 41020430
FWEngland Ken Griffiths 19720217
FWEngland Len Stephenson 3112223314
FWEngland Stan Smith 20500205
FWEngland Cyril Done 1812001812
FWEngland Pat Willdigg 200020
FWEngland Harry Poole 100010
FWEngland Tom Conway 15400154
FWEngland Eddie Baily 17710187


All competitions

Scorer Goals
England Cyril Done 14
England Len Stephenson 12
England Ken Griffiths 7
England Eddie Baily
England John Cunliffe
England Stan Smith 5
England Tom Conway 4
England Albert Leake
England Roy Sproson
England Albert Mullard 1


Scorer Goals
England Cyril Done 12
England Len Stephenson
England Ken Griffiths 7
England Eddie Baily
England John Cunliffe
England Stan Smith 5
England Tom Conway 4
England Albert Leake
England Roy Sproson 1
England Albert Mullard


Transfers in

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
June 1955 MF England Fred Hough Free transfer [3]
June 1955 MF England Terry Miles Free transfer [3]
June 1955 FW England Stan Steele Free transfer [3]
January 1956 FW England Eddie Baily Tottenham Hotspur £7,000 [3]
April 1956 MF England Harry Poole Free transfer [3]
May 1956 MF England Jimmy Adams Free transfer [3]

Transfers out

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
Summer 1956 FW England Tom Conway Leek Town Free transfer [3]
Summer 1956 GK England Ray Hancock Northwich Victoria Free transfer [3]
Summer 1956 MF England Albert Mullard Northwich Victoria Released [3]
Summer 1956 FW England Pat Willdigg Northwich Victoria Free transfer [3]


  1. 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 Kent, Jeff (1990). "Fame and Fortune (1950–1959)". The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 171–196. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7.
  2. Port Vale 1955–1956 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
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