The number of Port Vale players to appear in goal for their national side is a small one. Out of the dozen or so players to play Internationally while on Vale books, just three were keepers.
And here are their stories…
Ray King – England ‘B’ keeper (1 cap)
Ray King was the safe pair of hands behind Vale’s legendary Iron Curtain defence of 1954. King, regarded by many as the club’s finest keeper, kept 30 clean sheets that season, which remains to this very day not only a Port Vale record, but also a Football League record. King made one international appearance for the England ‘B’ team on 22nd May 1954 when he played the first half in a 2–0 defeat by their Swiss equivalents, before giving way to George Thompson at half time. He later toured with the full England squad and although he never won a senior cap he did make the bench as cover for regular goalkeeper Reg Matthews.
Neville Southall – Wales (1 cap)
The legendary Everton keeper joined Vale on loan in January and February 1983 after Vale’s regular keeper Barry Siddall was injured. In those days, Southall was a tall, slim and powerful keeper with a powerful kick. His performance in an away game against Bury where Southall almost single-handedly kept the Shakers at bay has entered Vale folklore. Southall only played nine games for the club during his spell but during his time he was also picked to represent Wales in a Home Nations game against England. The match, which took place on the 23rd February 1983, ended 2-1 to England (Terry Butcher and Phil Neal with a penalty) while Ian Rush was on target for Wales.
Trivia – Then Vale manager John McGrath was so impressed with Southall that he enquired about a permanent move. Howard Kendall, the then Everton manager refused to sell.
Edward ‘Teddy’ Peers – Wales (4 caps)
Peers became the first Port Vale player to play in an International when he was picked to play for Wales in 1921. At the time, Peer was in the veteran stages of his career as he was then 35 years of age. But nevertheless, he went on to earn four Welsh caps while a Port Vale player and as the first Valiant to perform on the International stage, he deserves to be regarded as true Vale pioneer.
Trivia – Peers was a ‘character’ and was reported to have such faith in his defenders that he spent most of the game leaning on the goalpost.
That completes the list of Port Vale’s International keepers, but who knows, maybe at some point in the future we may need to add to it…
Teddy Peers photo by kind permission of www.hednesfordtown.com