Talk About the Passion


FA Challenge Cup 3rd Round

I have in my past seen these two teams play each other twice. On both occasions the side playing away from home were victorious. Things have changed a bit since the previous matches. Surely, Port Vale could not give me the hat-trick.

The first occasion was in 1996, 10 September to be precise. Memory serves me it was a mild evening as a recently relegated City travelled an hour south to Burslem. Their side that included such names as Kinkladze, Rosler, Lomas and Clough ran out deserved 2-0 winners with goals from Dickov and Rosler. City were adjusting to life outside the Premiership under the temporary charge of Asa Hartford following Alan Ball leaving the club.

John Rudge was in charge for both games for The Valiants. Memory tells me he was in charge for about 70 years. He certainly served the club well for a number of years.

After seeing Vale finish 8th in the 96/97 season Rudge repeated his side’s victory at Maine Road the following season with a 3-2 win. City twice took the lead in the first half through Wiekens and Dickov, the visitors levelled through Snijders and Talbot before Tony Naylor netted the winner early in the second half. My over-riding memory of this game was the run-in Summerbee had wit hthe City fans who were also vociferous in their dislike for the current state of the club, chanting “We’re shit and we’re sick of it” and “You’re not fit to wear those shirts”. Vale thoroughly deserved their victory.

Fast forward over 20 years and the clubs were meeting again in my presence. 8,000 fans from the north side of Stoke-on-Trent were in the top two tiers of the South Stand. It was back in those days under Rudge when they last averaged this many fans for a season; these days it is just over half the travelling numbers. If only they would show at Vale Park.

The fans had their moment though as Pope headed in a cross after 35 minutes. The noise they made throughout was brilliant and it is a day that I am sure most will not forget.

City won at a canter. VAR played its part. I got to sit in the posh padded seats.

Attendance: 52,433

Moment of the Match: Pope’s header just about beats the VAR check on a disallowed goal. This was overruled and a goal given. Different way of doing it.

Match Tunes: Murmur – REM

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