Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Port Vale - Vale Park

9th April 2011

Port Vale 1-1 Southend

Scots football clubs (some of them at least) seem to have taken an almost perverse delight in choosing names which obscure their home town.  Even the Ugly Sisters eschew any use of the word Glasgow in their names these days, whilst Hibernian make no concession to their home in the Capital.  

Another group prefer to use vague geographical titles such as Heart of Midlothian, East Fife, East Stirlingshire or Queen of the South.  Unearthing the homes of the two Saints requires a bit of digging:  St Mirin (sic) is the patron saint of Paisley, whilst Perth is colloquially known as St John’s toun (town).

Raith Rovers take their name from an area around Kirkcaldy called Raith, so the often mocked quote attributed to an English sport announcer, “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Raith tonight”, is actually no more silly than saying “They will be dancing in the streets of Tottenham or Fulham”.  The real obscurios though are Morton (although they added the suffix Greenock to help folks in 1994), and Coatbridge’s finest: Albion Rovers.

The point of this preamble is by way of introduction to Port Vale FC, pretty much the only English League club without a geographical clue in their name.  Although one could argue Arsenal fall into this category, but they were once known as Woolwich Arsenal.  The name Port Vale appears to refer to a valley of ports on the Trent and Mersey Canal, associated with Stoke's pottery industry – or so Wikipedia claims.

Arriving at Vale Park in good time and, with the sun splitting the trees, Son and I had a little wander around Victorian Burslem Park just opposite the ground.  And what an odd experience it was.  

The grounds and gardens were immaculately tended, yet all of the buildings from the humblest little gazebo to the ornate park lodge appeared to have been left to decay for decades.  Even the pond seemed a microcosm of the park itself with a sprightly set of fountains at one end, whilst at the other, a hundred or so goldfish looked to be languidly expiring.  

The decaying buildings in Burslem Park.

The soon to be decaying fish in Burslem Park pond?
Apparently going the same way were Port Vale’s promotion chances as the club, after attaining the play-off positions in March, had embarked upon a run of one win in seven.  Southend were this afternoon’s visitors, with their mid-table position meaning they were effectively treading water until the end of the season.  Nevertheless, it was The Shrimpers who looked the likelier lot early on, Sean Clohessy’s volley whupping back off a post. 

But Vale took the lead in the 24th minute, when Rob TAYLOR’s speculative swipe flew past Southend ‘keeper Glenn Morris.  And that was sort of it, really.  Both sides had efforts which whizzed just past or over, but neither custodian was truly troubled.  

Until stoppage time at the end of the match that is, when former Vale defender Luke PROSSER capitalised on a blunder by Lee Collins to snatch the visitors a point.  A further blow to Vale’s promotion hopes; reflected in the fact a small but noisy band of fans chose to congregate outside the main stadium entrance after the match to voice their displeasure.  

Second-half action as Port Vale look for a second.

The rather well-nourished Southend physio.


The main entrance to Vale Park.

Cheerful row of flags behind the Railway Stand.

The half-finished Lorne Street stand.

Son contemplates the action from the Seen-Better-Days family enclosure.

"You can stick your season tickets up your arse!" etc.

Panorama of Vale Park, Port Vale FC.


1 comment:

  1. Hope you enjoyed your visit to Burslem, and that it wasn't all so odd! You might be interested to know that Burslem Park is now under restoration, so please do pop by next time you're in the area! There are some photos here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.148239998578521.33201.100001775649737&type=1&l=6f16db1b2f