In his latest memoir, long-serving Vale fan Stuart Dean recalls a memorable encounter with then Derby County boss Brian Clough following Vale’s visit to Hartlepool United.
Stuart Dean writes…
We travelled to Hartlepool in March 1970 and won the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Mick Morris and Ian Buxton.
By this time I was based in the North East, but was returning to the Potteries to spend Easter with my parents and also attend the vital home game against Wrexham the following week. I booked a seat on the supporters bus and told them I would only be using it on the return journey.
I arrived in Hartlepool early and went into the bar of the Grand Hotel for a drink and a meal. The only other people in the bar were Brian Clough, then manager of Derby County, and two of his Directors. Derby had beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Main Road on the Good Friday and were due to play Sunderland at Roker Park in the afternoon. They and the players had been celebrating because the win qualified them for European football the following season.
I found Brian nothing like his popular image. He was quietly spoken, consumed only soft drinks and was extremely modest about his achievements – a real gentleman. One of the topics of conversation was Mick Cullerton, who at the time was playing for Derby reserves and banging in goals left, right and centre. Brian had high hopes that Mick would make the grade at the very top level of English football.
Unfortunately these hopes were not realised, although I believe Mick scored over 40 goals for Derby reserves in just two seasons.
I watched the Wrexham game which the Vale won 1-0 with a John James penalty. This was poetic justice as John had been sent off quite undeservedly in the earlier fixture at the Racecourse.
So, who’s Mick Cullerton?
Mick will be known to many Vale fans as a regular match summariser on BBC Radio Stoke. He had started his English career at Port Vale and moved to Derby in 1969.
He then returned to Vale for a second spell from 1975 to 1978. In total he scored 58 goals for Vale.