Vale Park: Port Vale

Hamil Road, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, England, ST6 1AW

Vale Park has been the home of Port Vale Football Club since 1950, but the club had been in operation in one form or another far earlier than that, living a nomadic lifestyle up until that point. We say that they had existed ‘in one form or another’ because the very beginnings of the club are up for some debate. A Port Vale historian believes that the club was formed in 1879 as an offshoot of Porthole Victoria Football Club, whilst the club itself declares that it was formed even earlier in 1876 after a meeting at Port Vale House. In 1884 they moved to the Burslem area and changed their name to Burslem Port Vale, dropping the Burslem in 1907 when they were forced to drop out of the football league and then reform due to financial difficulties.

Before they even joined the Football League, Port Vale played their matches at The Meadows in Longport until 1881. From there they went to another Meadows, this time Westport Meadows, playing there for three years. They stayed at Burslem Football and Athletic Ground for two years before moving to the Athletic Ground where they played for 27 years. Next up came The Old Recreation Ground, home to The Vale from 1913 until 1950 when they eventually moved to their current ground, Vale Park.

Stats

Vale Park Stats
Year Opened1950
Capacity19,052
Average Attendance4,813
Record Attendance49,768 (Port Vale v Aston Villa (1960))
Pitch Size104 x 70 (7280)
OwnerPort Vale F.C.
Clubs HostedPort Vale F.C.
First FixturePort Vale v Newport County (24/08/1950)
Port Vale Stats
Year Founded1876
NicknameThe Valiants, The Vale, The Valeites
Club MascotBoomer the Dog
RivalsStoke City
Previous StadiumsThe Meadows, Westport Meadows, Burslem Football and Athletic Ground, Athletic Ground, The Old Recreation Ground
KitYellow, Black & White (Home) / Black & Yellow (Away) / Mustard & Black (Third)
Training GroundPort Vale FC Academy
Shirt SponsorManorshop.com
Team OwnerNorman Smurthwaite
Record GoalscorerWilf Kirkham (164)
Record AppearancesRoy Sproson (842)

Vale Park Photos

Vale Park Seating Plan & Where to Sit

By judyboo (Flickr: Tour of the ground) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Vale Park is an interesting mix of a typical ‘English Style’ stadium of four stands on each side of the pitch, with a slight nod to the more ‘Bowl Style’ design that modern stadiums use. This is because of the corners of The Bycars Stand, which are filled. Here’s some information on each of the four stands at the ground:

  • The Bycars Stand - This is a single-tiered structure that is fully covered and tends to house the most vocal of Port Vale’s supporters. There is only one tier, but it is split into two different sections for added confusion.
  • The Railway Stand - This section of the ground runs along the side of the pitch and contains a paddock section at the front.
  • The Hamil Road Stand - Taking its name from the street that it runs along, this goal-end stand is single-tiered and typically houses the away supporters. Views can be restricted by the support pillars that keep the roof up and the stand also features the club’s electronic scoreboard.
  • The Lorne Street Stand - This is the main stand at Vale Park, housing two layers of hospitality boxes, the dressing rooms and the players’ tunnel. It’s a single-tier structure that can house around 5000 supporters.

Port Vale Ticket Prices

Port Vale don’t categorise the matches that they play in and they don’t offer reduced ticket prices for supporters who buy them early (unless you are talking about season tickets – early bird discounts are good) or who are part of a club membership scheme. That makes it nice and easy to understand the club’s ticketing structure, with just your age and the area of the ground you want to sit in determining how much you’ll pay for tickets.

Here are the cheapest and most expensive ticket prices for adults and concessions at Vale Park, with the most expensive seats being located in The Lorne Street Stand:

  • Adults: £20 - £21
  • Concessions: £15 - £16

How To Get Port Vale Tickets

The best way to get tickets for Port Vale matches is via the club’s official website, though you can also buy them over the phone. If you’d rather pick them up in person then the ticket office is open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday (staying open until 7.45pm for midweek home games), and from 9.30am until 3.15pm on Saturday match days.

Where to Buy

Getting To Vale Park

Swap Start/End

Vale Park is closer to Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium than you might initially realise, so the instructions for getting there are not dissimilar to if you were heading to that other well-known football ground in The Potteries. Here are some of the more usual methods you might want to think about using:

Train - Stoke-On-Trent Railway Station is the main station that serves the area, but it’s not all that close to the ground so if you head there then you’ll probably want to get a bus a taxi for the remainder of your journey. Longport Station isn’t too far away, with the ground being about a twenty-five minute walk.

Bus - There are several buses that run from the local areas to Burslem, the location of the ground. If you’re coming from Stoke centre then the 7, 7A, 7B, or 7C will all suffice. From Hanley Bus Station the 20, 20A, 29, 21 and 21A are all good options. Meanwhile from Newcastle-Under-Lyme the 98 and 98A will do the trick.

Car - From the North you’ll want to leave the M6 at Junction 16 and take the A500 before getting onto the A527. From there get onto the B5051 and then follow the signs. From the South leave the M6 at Junction 15 and follow the instructions from the North, whilst from the West you’ll already be on the A500 so just go from there. From the East you’ll enter Stoke via the Uttoxeter Bypass and the Meir tunnel. You’ll pass The Britannia Stadium and after that you’ll want to get onto the A500 and follow the instructions above.

By Air - Manchester Airport is just over 30 miles away from Stoke-On-Trent and you can get the train from there to Longport Station in about an hour and a quarter with a change at Crewe.

Taxi - Getting a taxi from Stoke-On-Trent Railway Station to the ground will take you around fifteen minutes and should cost you roughly the same amount of pounds.

Parking Near Vale Park

There is a car park available on Hamil Road, Car Park C, as well as some on-street parking in the surrounding region. Keep your eyes out for parking restrictions, however.

Useful Resources

Vale Park Hotels

You’re almost certainly going to want to stay in Stoke itself rather than the district of Burslem, though here are some hotel options for you to consider:

Quality Hotel Stoke - £40+

66 Trinity Street Hanley, Stoke-on-trent, ST1 5NB
About two miles from Vale Park is this member of the Quality Hotel chain, with a health club, an indoor pool, a restaurant and two bars on offer. There’s also a conference centre, a games room and free parking available. More details.

The George Hotel - £55+

Swan Square, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 2AE
The George is in Burslem so it’s about half a mile from the ground. It has, for your delectation, a restaurant, a business centre, a conference space and free parking as well as the now-to-be-expected free Wi-Fi that most decent places promise. More details.

Best Western Plus Stoke-on-Trent Moat House - £75+

Etruria Hall Festival Way, Stoke-on-trent, ST1 5BQ
This Best Western hotel is around two miles from the stadium and has a restaurant, a bar, a fitness centre with indoor pool, a garden and free Wi-Fi as well as free parking. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near Vale Park

If Stoke-On-Trent is best described as ‘characterful’ then Burlsem is the sort of place where the locals have enough character to be featured in a best-selling novel. There are a few fun little places to go for a drink before and after the match, though most of the pubs in Burslem itself are home fan friendly only. Here are some places to think about:

The Bull’s Head

14 St. John’s Square, Burslem, Stoke-On-Trent, ST6 3AJ (01782 834 153)
Not far from the ground is this Titanic Brewery pub that is one of the few in the local area that welcomes home and away fans. They are CAMRA recommended and have bar billiard and table skittles for use in the public bar area. Proper old-school.

The Swan

Swan Square, Burlsem, Stoke-On-Trent, ST6 3EA (01782 698 282)
The Swan is another place that some away fans have had some joy getting in to, as long as you don’t have gregarious away team colours on or an ‘I hate Port Vale' tattoo. They serve good food, often have live music on and also have a number of televisions with both BT Sport and Sky Sports available.

Post Office Vaults

3 Market Place, Burlsem, Stoke-On-Trent, ST6 3AA (01782 811 027)
This is a one-room pub, so it can get cramped in the build-up to the game. It’s got a good atmosphere, though, as well as TV screens for any live sport that might be on. It’s also CAMRA recommended and dog-friendly. Not that you’re likely to be taking a dog with you to the football, of course, but you never know.

Facilities

Vale Park offers a pleasant mix of the old and the new as far as the stands and facilities are concerned. Generally speaking it’s a clean and pleasant ground with a number of places to buy food and drinks on the concourses. It’s not exactly Old Trafford or even, more locally, The Britannia, but it’s nice enough.

Prices

  • Programme: 3.00
  • Pie: 2.50
  • Cup of tea: 1.50

Hospitality

By judyboo (Flickr: Tunnel to the pitch) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe they’re not keen on people wandering around the ground on a tour and putting their grubby hands all over stuff, but the club are keen to get as many people as possible into their hospitality suites. For that reason there are a host of options available, with some of the better ones explored here:

  • President’s Seating - With this package you’ll enjoy a meal in The Chris Bayley Lounge before the game as well as access to the licensed bar in The Valiant Suite throughout the say. You’ll also be able to witness the post-match presentations.
  • Vice President’s Seating - This package promises a carvery in The Valiant Suite as well as access to the bar contained therein. You get the same post-match presentation access as with the President’s Seating package.
  • The Valiant Suite - This is essentially the same package as the Vice-President’s Seating one, but without the ace seats. You’ll get a carvery, access to a pay bar and a chance to watch the Man Of The Match presentations after the game.

Private Hire

Vale Park’s facilities can be used to house any number of exciting and interesting corporate events for anywhere up to 250 people. The club offers several fully licensed bars as well as the services of caterers and a DJ. Whether you’re hoping to host a dinner dance, an exhibition, a conference or even a wedding, Vale Park can handle all of your needs.

Stadium Tours & Museum

At the time of writing there are no tours of Vale Park available (or should that be aVALEable?), which is a shame as it’s a stadium full of history. There’s also no museum associated with the club, which would also be full of history, being a museum and all. If anything changes on that front we’ll let you know.

About Port Vale

Roy Sproson Statue Vale Park - By Gareth Williams from Redhill, England [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Port Vale are, interestingly, one of a surprisingly small amount of football clubs in England not to be named after a geographical location. Instead their name is believed to originate from either a valley of ports on the Mersey and Trent Canal or else Port Vale House, where the club was thought to have been formed. They were also one of the founder members of both the Second Division, which they helped to form in 1892, and the Fourth Division in 1958.

Port Vale have enjoyed a degree of success during their existence, with the 1950s offering their most joyous moments. In 1954 they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, eventually losing out to West Bromwich Albion in a game at Villa Park. It was no great shame, with West Brom topping the First Division at the time of the game and Port Vale residing in the third tier of the Football League. They may have missed out on FA Cup glory that year but it wasn’t a complete loss, with the club going on to gain promotion after winning the league by eleven points.

Vale Park History

The Bycars Road End - By http://www.flickr.com/photos/ingythewingy/ [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Vale Park’s current capacity is just under 20,000, a far cry from the 49,768 supporters that managed to cram into the ground when Port Vale took on Aston Villa in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1960. Another Midlands club, West Brom, boast the stadium on the highest ground in the country but Vale Park, at 520 feet above sea level, is the eleventh highest in the country. The area was chosen for the club’s new stadium in 1944 when the club knew they were going to have to leave The Old Recreation Ground where they had been playing.

The site of an old clay pit was chosen, with the development being known as The Wembley Of The North during its initial development. This was because of extraordinarily ambitious plans for the ground to have a capacity of 80,000 as well as room for 1000 cars to park. It’s eventual capacity of 40,000 on opening was still pretty impressive for a third-tier team. That the pitch was built on a clay pit causes the club problems to this day, however, with both freezing and flooding causing consistent problems.

Future Developments

Despite having begun reconstruction of The Lorne Street Stand in 2011 and the fact that it houses 48 executive boxes, it still isn’t actually completed. The completion of this grandstand will probably be the only major development that the club manages in the coming years.

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