Ritchie Hawkins takes a look back at the career of Dave Brammer, one of the select band of players to play for all three local league clubs.
Please note: this feature was written in 2005, three years prior to Brammer’s recent return to the Valiants.
Dave Brammer became one of a select group of players to play for all three Potteries teams when he moved to Stoke City on a free transfer in July of this year.
Brammer started his trip around the Potteries at Port Vale. The midfielder had made 118 league appearances in six years for Wrexham beforee he moved to the Valiants in March of 1999 for a fee of £350,000.
His Spell at Vale: He played two full seasons for the Valiants, making his debut against Bristol City in the old division one towards the end of the 1998/1999 campaign.
Many Vale fans were impressed with his performance in the 2-0 defeat against City. He was described as a ‘Brick Wall’ in the centre of the field – aggression and ‘Ave it’ were always present when he played. Brammer was a threat going forward and always helped out the defence when he could. He was also the source of many assists in his first few games as he rapidly became an essential part of the first team.
Watch the Temper! Brammer also had a nastier side to him; the ‘Brick Wall’ sometimes threw a tantrum: four yellow cards in just eight games clearly showed that he had a short fuse and was one not to be messed with.
His ‘short fuse’ ran out when Vale travelled to Sheffield United midway through the 1999/2000 season; Brammer saw red in the last minute of the game for a needless challenge when the Valiants already had all three points in the bag. The game ended 3-1 to the Vale with Richard Eyre, Alan Tankard and Anthony Gardner all scoring.
Brammer may have been an influential first-team player for Vale, but he couldn’t stop the Valiants from relegation at the end of the campaign. Vale’s defeat in the final game of the season against Wolves decided the side’s fate and the Valiants dropped down a division.
<b>The Final Season</b> His next season for Port Vale proved to be his last and the 2000/2001 season is one that lives long in the memory. Brammer managed to keep his temper in check and finished with just eight yellow cards.
The midfielder scored his first goal for the club in the first round of the FA Cup on the island of Canvey.
When the Valiants were drawn against Canvey Island in the first round of the FA Cup most Vale fans thought that we would be in the hat come 5pm that evening.
But an eight goal thriller saw the game end 4-4 and a replay at Vale Park the following week. Supporters were shocked to watch Canvey Island deservedly defeat Vale 2-1 in a one-sided game. I may have been the only person in the ground after the 75th minute mark, although I had to count my toes after as I was sure I’d caught frost bite!
Port Vale seemed to bounce up and down the league throughout the season, but Vale fans still had their eyes on a trophy come April time.
The Valiants had only conceded one goal in the LDV Vans competition that season, knocking out the likes of Chester, Notts County and of course, Stoke City. Brammer played the full 105 minutes in the local derby and proved to be a match winner when he started the move that gave Bridge-Wilkinson the chance to score from the spot in the 105th minute. I’ve never shouted so loud when the ball hit the net,. What a game!
Following their excellent run, Vale faced Brentford in the final of the LDV Vans Trophy competition. Tickets went on sale early and fans came out of the woodwork to buy them.
It was going to be a memorable day for Port Vale, whatever the result. Due to the redevelopment of Wembley stadium, the final was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Brammer figured in the squad that day and after I got Brian Horton’s autograph, a cup of Bovril and listened to the ‘Wonder of you’ by the choir we were all ready to go.
Day of the Final: A massive roar went up when the players walked out the tunnel. The ref blew the whistle and straight from the kick off, Brentford were on the attack. The red and white following went mad when the ball hit the net. A bad start.
When the second half came around, the Black and White army were in full voice again, hoping for some luck for the Valiants.
A disallowed goal for a dubious offside decision didn’t help the nerves. Then Tony Naylor was brought down in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson kept calm and slotted home sending the Vale fans wild.
Brammer then made his mark, starting off a passing move that saw striker Steve Brooker latch onto the loose ball and fire home a belter. The scene is one that will stick in my mind until the day I die. The Valiants won the final 2-1, and that was nearly the end of David Brammer’s spell at Vale Park.
Life After Vale: Brammer left Vale for Crewe at the end of the season for £500,000. This wasn’t a huge fee for a player of his quality and Vale fans were saddened to see him leave to our rivals.
After a successful time at Crewe, Brammer now wears the number 8 shirt at Stoke City, where his place in their club history is still to be written. Will he put Stoke into the history books like Vale?
We’ll have to wait and see…
Richie Hawkins – December 15th 2004