1989–90 Port Vale F.C. season

Port Vale
1989–90 season
Chairman Bill Bell
Manager John Rudge
Stadium Vale Park
Football League Second Division 11th (61 Points)
FA Cup Fourth Round
League Cup Second Round
Full Members Cup Second Round
Player of the Year Neil Aspin
Top goalscorer League: Darren Beckford (17)
All: Darren Beckford (21)
Highest home attendance 22,075 vs. Stoke City (3 February 1990)
Lowest home attendance 4,441 vs. Walsall (28 August 1989)
Average home league attendance 8,978
Home colours

The 1989–90 season was Port Vale's 78th season of football in the Football League, and first (33rd overall) season back in the Second Division following their promotion from the Third Division.[1] They were playing in the second tier, and at the same level as rivals Stoke City, for the first time since 1956–57. John Rudge led his side to a comfortable mid-table finish, whilst Stoke suffered relegation in bottom place despite the two derby matches finishing in draws. After beating top-flight Derby County, Vale exited the FA Cup at the Fourth Round with their biggest ever loss in the competition, losing 6–0 to Aston Villa at Villa Park. They left both the League Cup and the Full Members Cup at the Second Round.


Second Division

The pre-season saw John Rudge sign solid young defender Neil Aspin from Leeds United for £150,000; 28-year-old forward Nicky Cross from Leicester City for £125,000; and veteran winger Ian Miller on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers (as cover for an injured Gary Ford).[1] The Burslem club had never previously spent anything close to the £275,000 spent in summer 1989, yet other clubs in the division far outspent the Vale.[1] Vale Park was also upgraded at a cost of £250,000, though grants helped to halve the cost for the club itself.[1] Despite this effort, inspectors closed the Bycars End down due to safety issues, and reduced the stadium's capacity to 12,000 after cutting the capacity of the Railway Paddock by two-thirds.[1] Season ticket sales more than doubled to 2,231.[1] Phil Sproson attempted to return to the game and so the club accepted a £50,000 transfer payment from Birmingham City.[1] Meanwhile the Vale were the bookmakers favourites for relegation, having started the season with six players out injured, including Ray Walker.[1]

The season opened with a 2–2 draw with Bradford City at Valley Parade, and a 2–1 home win over West Bromwich Albion the following week.[1] The club soon scrapped their all-ticket rule after poor attendances in the first games.[1] Vale went seven games without a win in the league, though on 23 September managed a 1–1 draw with Stoke at the Victoria Ground, some 27,004 fans in attendance.[1] The police bills for Vale games reached as much as £1.50 a head for some games, though the police went some way to justify this cost by arresting 85 people on the day of the Potteries derby.[1] Rudge switched from a 4–4–2 formation to 4–3–3 so as to include Miller, and a mini-revival followed, ending with a 3–0 win over Barnsley at Oakwell.[1] Six games without a win followed, and Alan Webb broke his leg during a 2–2 draw with Newcastle United at St James' Park.[1] In November, Vale Park opened a new 48 seat disabled stand at a cost of £100,000.[1] Ron Futcher was then sold to Fourth Division Burnley for £60,000, though an injury crisis in defence exposed the club's lack of squad depth.[1] With Gary West out with damaged ligaments, big defender Tim Parkin was bought from Swindon Town for £60,000.[1] The next month the Hamil End was reopened after £175,000 worth of renewal work.[1] Rudge switched back to 4–4–2, utilizing Andy Porter in midfield.[1]

Vale went six games unbeaten over the new year, beating Ipswich Town 5–0 (their biggest win in the division since 1932) and fighting to a goalless home draw with Stoke in the process.[1] The Stoke game was a disappointment as City were adrift at the foot of the table, and the pitch was 'as lumpy as porridge'.[1] The Bycars End reopened after a £90,000 investment, 22,075 fans turned up for the game – the biggest gate for a league game since the visit of Grimsby Town in 1960.[1] This moved Vale to within three points of the play-offs.[1] A poor March dragged them down the table though, as the stadium's capacity was again reduced and the police bill spiralled.[1] In April, Rudge sold David Riley to Peterborough United for £40,000, whilst £20,000 was spent bringing in Gary McKinstry from Portadown.[1] The club's play-off dreams were killed off by a 2–1 defeat from Newcastle United, after which only two points were won from the final four games.[1] Despite this the supporters held popular player Neil Aspin aloft following the team's final home game (a 2–1 defeat to Sunderland).[1] The final game was a goalless draw with Oxford United at the Manor Ground, which was enough to ensure a top-half finish.[1]

They finished in eleventh place with 61 points, their highest finish since 1933–34.[1] Darren Beckford was top-scorer with 21 goals in all competitions, with Nicky Cross and Robbie Earle bagged 15 and 12 goals respectively.[1] The average home attendance of 8,978 was the highest since 1963–64.[1] The players were taken on a holiday to Spain as a reward for their efforts.[1] Rudge retained the entire playing staff at the end of the season.[1]


The club's shirt sponsors were ABC Minolta Copiers.

Cup competitions

In the FA Cup, Vale were drawn against top-flight Derby County in the Third Round, and progressed 3–2 in the replay at The Baseball Ground having 'gave as good as they received' as they drew the original tie 1–1.[1] The win was 'another famous cup victory' for the club, as three goals were put past Peter Shilton.[1] Another difficult fixture awaited in the Fourth Round. On 27 January, Aston Villa inflicted Vale's biggest ever cup defeat with a 6–0 win in front of 36,532 fans at Villa Park. Nevertheless the cup run raised £150,000.[1]

In the League Cup, Vale overcame Third Division Walsall 3–1 on aggregate, having won 1–0 at home and 2–1 at Fellows Park. They then came unstuck against First Division Wimbledon, losing 2–1 at home before getting beat 3–0 at Plough Lane.

In the short-lived Full Members Cup, Vale made it past the First Round with a 2–1 win over Sunderland at Roker Park, Walker and Cross getting the goals. They were then eliminated by Middlesbrough at the next stage, after losing 3–1 at Ayresome Park despite a Jeffers goal.

Final league table

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA W D L GF GA GF GA GD Pts
1Leeds United461661461887833347952+ 2785
2Sheffield United4614544327108535317858+ 2085
3Newcastle United4617425126510829298055+ 2580
4Swindon Town461265492988730307959+ 2074
5Blackburn Rovers461094433098631297460+ 1474
6Sunderland4610854132106729327064+ 874
7West Ham United4614545022671030358057+ 2372
8Oldham Athletic4615715023471220347057+ 1371
9Ipswich Town4613733822651229446751+ 1669
10Wolverhampton Wanderers461256372068930406750+ 1767
11Port Vale4611933720471225376257+ 561
12Portsmouth46986403468922316265– 361
13Leicester City4610853429561233506779– 1259
14Hull City46788273178831345865– 758
15Watford4611664128391117325860– 257
16Plymouth Argyle469863023551328405863– 555
17Oxford United468783531721422355766– 954
18Brighton & Hove Albion4610672827531528455672– 1654
19Barnsley467972223661127484971– 2254
20West Bromwich Albion466893537671032346771– 451
21Middlesbrough46103103329381219345263– 1150
22Bournemouth468693031461327455776– 1948
23Bradford City469682624081518444468– 2441
24Stoke City4641182024281315393563– 2837

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


Port Vale's score comes first


Win Draw Loss
Result D W L D D L D L D W W L D D D L L W W W L D L D W W W D W L W L D D L W W D L W L W L D L D
Position 10 7 13 17 12 19 18 20 20 20 13 15 16 15 15 15 16 15 14 13 13 14 15 16 14 12 9 10 9 10 9 9 10 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11

Sourced from Statto.[2]

Football League Second Division

19 August 1989 Bradford CityA2–210,242Glover (pen), Beckford
26 August 1989 West Bromwich AlbionH2–17,695Glover (pen), Futcher
2 September 1989 Brighton & Hove AlbionA0–27,218
9 September 1989 Blackburn RoversH0–07,601
12 September 1989 Hull CityH1–16,168Earle
16 September 1989 WatfordA0–18,445
23 September 1989 Stoke CityA1–127,004Earle
26 September 1989 BournemouthA0–16,511
30 September 1989 Leeds UnitedH0–011,156
7 October 1989 Leicester CityH2–17,268Beckford, Cross
14 October 1989 BarnsleyA3–06,475Cross (2), Earle
17 October 1989 Wolverhampton WanderersA0–218,123
21 October 1989 West Ham UnitedH2–28,899o.g., Futcher
28 October 1989 Newcastle UnitedA2–217,824o.g., Futcher
30 October 1989 MiddlesbroughH1–17,708Glover (pen)
4 November 1989 Oxford UnitedH1–26,994Jeffers
11 November 1989 PortsmouthA0–27,708
18 November 1989 Swindon TownH2–07,393Beckford, Cross
25 November 1989 Plymouth ArgyleA2–17,034Cross (2)
2 December 1989 Bradford CityH3–26,762Earle (2), Beckford
9 December 1989 Hull CityA1–24,207Earle
16 December 1989 Sheffield UnitedH1–19,813Cross
26 December 1989 Oldham AthleticA1–211,274Parkin
30 December 1989 SunderlandA2–221,377o.g., Millar
1 January 1990 Ipswich TownH5–08,617Beckford (2), Earle, Cross, Miller
13 January 1990 West Bromwich AlbionA3–213,575Cross, Beckford, Porter
20 January 1990 Brighton & Hove AlbionH2–18,666Cross (2)
3 February 1990 Stoke CityH0–022,075
10 February 1990 WatfordH1–07,064Earle
17 February 1990 Blackburn RoversA0–19,257
24 February 1990 Plymouth ArgyleH3–07,254Hughes, Beckford, Mills
3 March 1990 Swindon TownA0–38,314
7 March 1990 Leeds UnitedA0–029,550
10 March 1990 BournemouthH1–17,131Millar
17 March 1990 Leicester CityA0–210,076
19 March 1990 BarnsleyH2–17,036o.g., Beckford
24 March 1990 Wolverhampton WanderersH3–112,506Millar, Beckford, Earle
31 March 1990 West Ham UnitedA2–220,507Beckford, Cross
7 April 1990 Newcastle UnitedH1–210,290Earle
11 April 1990 MiddlesbroughA3–214,973Beckford (2), Glover (pen)
14 April 1990 Ipswich TownA2–310,652Earle, Cross (pen)
16 April 1990 Oldham AthleticH2–011,451Beckford (2)
21 April 1990 Sheffield UnitedA1–216,809Beckford
28 April 1990 PortsmouthH1–17,492Beckford
1 May 1990 SunderlandH1–29,447Millar
5 May 1990 Oxford UnitedA0–04,708

FA Cup

Main article: 1989–90 FA Cup
R37 January 1990 Derby CountyH1–117,478Beckford
R3 Replay10 January 1990 Derby CountyA3–221,389o.g., Walker, Cross
R427 January 1990 Aston VillaA0–636,532

League Cup

R1 1st Leg22 August 1989 WalsallA2–14,774Beckford (2)
R1 2nd Leg28 August 1989 WalsallH1–04,441Beckford
R2 1st Leg18 September 1989 WimbledonH1–25,827Futcher
R2 2nd Leg4 October 1989 WimbledonA0–32,851

Full Members Cup

R114 November 1989 SunderlandA2–17,031Walker, Cross
R229 November 1989 MiddlesbroughA1–36,691Jeffers

Player statistics


Pos. Name Football League FA Cup League Cup Full Members Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GKEngland Mark Grew 430304010510
GKNorthern Ireland Trevor Wood 3000001040
DFEngland Alan Webb 140004000180
DFEngland Simon Mills 451304020541
DFEngland Darren Hughes 381304010461
DFEngland Gary West 3000000030
DFEngland Dean Glover 444304010524
DFEngland Tim Parkin 121000000121
DFEngland Neil Aspin 420304020510
MFJamaica Robbie Earle 43123040205212
MFEngland Andy Porter 361303020441
MFEngland Ray Walker 400312021471
MFEngland Kevin Finney 8000100090
MFEngland John Jeffers 401202021462
MFNorthern Ireland Paul Millar 234020010264
MFScotland Ian Miller 211002010241
FWEngland Darren Beckford 42173143205121
FWEngland David Riley 2010002050
FWEngland Ronnie Jepson 8000000080
FWEngland Ron Futcher 113004100154
FWEngland Nicky Cross 42133130215015


All competitions

Scorer Goals
England Darren Beckford 21
England Nicky Cross 15
Jamaica Robbie Earle 12
Northern Ireland Paul Millar 4
England Dean Glover
England Ron Futcher
England John Jeffers 2
England Ray Walker
Scotland Ian Miller 1
England Andy Porter
England Simon Mills
England Tim Parkin
England Darren Hughes


Scorer Goals
England Darren Beckford 17
England Nicky Cross 13
Jamaica Robbie Earle 12
Northern Ireland Paul Millar 4
England Dean Glover
England Ron Futcher 3
England John Jeffers 1
Scotland Ian Miller
England Andy Porter
England Simon Mills
England Tim Parkin
England Darren Hughes


Transfers in

Date from Position Nationality Name From Fee Ref.
June 1989 FW England Nicky Cross Leicester City £125,000 [3]
June 1989 MF Scotland Ian Miller Blackburn Rovers Free transfer [3]
July 1989 DF England Neil Aspin Leeds United £150,000 [3]
December 1989 DF England Tim Parkin Swindon Town £60,000 [3]
April 1990 FW England Brian Mills Free transfer [3]

Transfers out

Date from Position Nationality Name To Fee Ref.
November 1989 FW England Ron Futcher Burnley £60,000 [3]
April 1990 FW England David Riley Peterborough United £40,000 [3]
August 1990 MF Scotland Ian Miller Scunthorpe United Free transfer [3]

Loans out

Date from Position Nationality Name To Date to Ref.
January 1990 FW England Ronnie Jepson Peterborough United March 1990 [3]
March 1990 MF England Paul Atkinson Hartlepool United End of season [3]
March 1990 MF England Gary Ford Walsall End of season [3]
March 1990 FW England David Riley Peterborough United April 1990 [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 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Kent, Jeff (1990). "From Rags to Riches (1979–1990)". The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. pp. 258–290. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7.
  2. Port Vale 1989–1990 : Results & Fixtures. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
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