We were delighted to be handed this programme during the Vale Vaults exhibition. It marks the visit of Czechoslovakia to Vale Park, the first time a national side had played either of the Potteries sides. The next year, the Czechs reached the 1962 World Cup final.
Connections between the Potteries and Czechoslovakia had been strong since World War Two. In 1942, the Nazis carried out atrocities in Lidice, making the village an example for the nearby assassination of Reinhard Heinrich. 173 men were shot while over 350 women and children were sent to concentration camps where the majority were gassed. The village was demolished. After the war just 153 women and 17 children returned to find their homes razed to the ground.
Appalled, coal miners in Stoke-on-Trent, backed by local MP Sir Barnett Stross, launched the “Lidice Shall Live” movement and raised funds for the village to be rebuilt. A new Lidice village was constructed in 1949. From that point onwards, there were strong ties between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice, despite the latter now being part of a Communist country.
Vale and Czechoslavakia
Vale players including Roy Sproson (in bowler hat and bow-tie) on tour
No doubt due to the strong Lidice connections, the Valiants undertook their first-ever continental tour in 1960. Playing five games in Czechoslovakia, they won three of them. Connections were made and in 1961, the Czech national team embarked on a game at Vale Park – the match covered here. It was the first-ever visit to the Potteries by a national side. The Czechs were preparing for the 1962 World Cup in Chile, where they did exceptionally well. The side finished runners-up, losing the final 3-1 to Brazil
Here are some profiles of players in the Czech side for the game against Vale:
- Josef Masopust: The star of the show, the Dukla Prague star was named European Footballer of the Year the following season. He was named by Pele as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in 2004. He scored the opening goal in the 1962 World Cup final and was capped 63 times. He also coached his country.
- Adolf Scherer: Another big-name star, Scherer went to the 1962 World Cup and scored three goals including one in the 3-1 semi-final win over Yugoslavia.
- Jiri Tichy: Then at CH Bratislavia, he won 19 caps in total and also played in the 1962 World Cup
- Ladislav Novák: Then with Dukla Prague, he won 75 caps, 71 as captain and later managed his country
- Jiří Hledík: He had already appeared at the 1954 World Cup and finished with 28 International appearances
Vale Vaults Reloaded
We are in the process of putting together our photos and videos of the exhibition with the intention of placing them into a special section of the site – Vale Vaults Reloaded. Here, we will allow fans who were unable to attend to view the exhibition online. If you have video or photographs of Vale Vaults that you’d like to share, please contact Rob Fielding – firstname.lastname@example.org