Weekly Digest: Port Vale Internationals Special

Our weekly magazine article looks at Port Vale stories with an International flavour to coincide with the International break…

This week… International Special

Blasts from the past: International Special


Here’s the front cover from the programme when Port Vale hosted the Czech national side. The Czechs would later go on to play Brazil in the World Cup Final. You can read more about Vale’s links with the Czechs and the game below:


lidice-shall-liveConnections 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

Notable figures

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

International Videos

First up, here’s a few YouTube videos of Port Vale stars in International action.

Chris Birchall scores a stunning goal for Trinidad and Tobago against Bahrain.

Andy Jones scores on his International debut for Wales (a short clip with no commentary)

And here’s the highlights of Andy Jones’ International debut game – a 4-1 win over Finland

International Trivia


Goalkeeper Teddy Peers (right) became the club’s first player to be capped by his country when he was selected by Wales in 1922. You can read more about Teddy in our Cult Hero article here


Chris Birchall is the most-capped Port Vale International with 27 Trinidad and Tobago caps while a Port Vale player. He edges ahead of T&T teammate Tony Rougier with twenty caps and Sammy Morgan with seven.

A number of players have made International appearances while on loan with Vale. They are:

  • Andrew Little – Northern Ireland (on loan from Glasgow Rangers)
  • Neville Southall – Wales (on loan from Everton)
  • David Healy – Northern Ireland (on loan from Manchester United)


The home nations are well-represented as this table shows

  • Northern Ireland (seven players)
  • Wales (three players)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (two players)

Quick quiz of the week…


It’s only natural that we produce a quiz with an International flavour, but be warned, this one will be tricky:

1. James Lawrie’s sole Northern Ireland senior appearance came in a game against:
a. Estonia
b. Italy
c. Switzerland

2. Against which country did Chris Birchall make his senior International debut?
a. Bermuda
b. Mexico
c. Honduras

3. Jon McCarthy’s International debut for Northern Ireland was against?
a. Norway
b. Sweden
c. Finland



Adam Yates didn’t play for Northampton Town as he had tweaked his hamstring in Town’s JPT tie earlier in the week.

Nathan Smith played the whole 90 minutes of Torquay’s 1-1 draw with Guiseley.

Jonny Kapend didn’t make the starting XI as Stafford Rangers recorded an impressive 2-1 away win at Spalding Utd. However, former Valiant Levi Reid did start the game in midfield.

Lewis Bergin played as Kidsgrove drew 2-2 with Stocksbridge.

Weekly awards…

louis dodds 2015

Louis Dodds: star man against Doncaster

Louis Dodds was voted Vale’s best player for the game against Doncaster. The results were:

  • Louis Dodds: 44%
  • Uche Ikpeazu: 26%
  • Anthony Grant: 13%

Quote of the week…


Port Vale manager Rob Page on a dull 1-0 win over Carlisle in the JPT:

“It’s a good sign that when you’re not playing at your best and you’re still winning games…”

Tweet of the week…

Epic Vale Fails: Andreas Lipa

Epic Fail Ratings

Cost: Free transfer

Impact: Negligible

Highpoint: The announcement of the signing of the Austrian ‘Beckham’

Lowpoint: Hitting the headlines over alleged racism

In keeping with our International theme, we look at the time when the club heralded the signing of Lipa. Lipa had won a solitary cap for Austria and when he signed, manager Brian Horton was particularly enthusiastic telling the BBC “he is a quality player who has performed at the highest level.” The high-profile signing led to the local media dubbing Lipa “the Austrian Beckham” (probably more on account of his looks than his playing ability) and much was expected of the new arrival.

While Lipa didn’t “bomb” he also had little effect…

But in truth, while Lipa didn’t “bomb” he also had little effect. He struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game and was too often bypassed in the middle of the park. He hardly seemed to justify the hype. Then things got a whole lot worse…

During a 5-1 loss to Plymouth Argyle on the 18th October 2003 Lipa was accused of racially abusing the Plymouth player Jason Bent. Lipa was charged by the FA and club and player both issued apologies to Bent. That proved to be Lipa’s last significant contribution as he was sidelined under new manager Martin Foyle and left the club by mutual consent in November 2004.

One hit wonder… Junior

We briefly celebrate the brief careers of players who made a solitary appearance for the club.

The Portugal U21 midfielder joined Vale on loan last season. His debut was against Leyton Orient and after Chris Neal was red-carded, the lucky Junior was subbed for Sam Johnson to come on in goal. That was to prove to be his only Vale appearance as he was injured for the rest of his loan spell. He is on loan with Wigan Athletic at time of writing…

Quick quiz of the week answers:

  1. b
  2. a
  3. b


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