Weekly Digest: The wacky world of Port Vale nicknames

Our weekly magazine article takes a look at some memorable Port Vale player nicknames and their origins.

Charlie Rattray

The winger played for the Valiants in the 1937-38 season and was nicknamed “Jazz”. We presume it wasn’t down to him wearing dark glasses and smoking unusual cigarettes so we can surmise it’s a reference to his style of wing play. So, with that in mind, the “jazz” element to Rattray’s flank play is best thought of while visualising one of John Jeffers’ free-form, enigmatic forward runs.

Warney Cresswell

Warney was instrumental in bringing modern coaching methods to the club when he managed the Valiants in 1936. A former England International, Cresswell was the “Beckham” of his era and hugely popular with supporters. He was noted for his fine and fair tackling*  and was therefore nicknamed “the Prince of full-backs.”

*Cresswell did actually break another player’s leg by accident in a match. he turned up at the hospital to apologise and gave the injured player a pouch of tobacco as an apology.

Tom Holford

A contemporary of Warney, our Tom was also an England International defender but his reputation was for more “robust” challenges than Cresswell and so he was given the nickname “Dirty Tommy.”

Robert Carter

The diminutive outside-right was nicknamed “Toddler” as he stood just five foot six inches tall.

Garth Butler

The full-back was nicknamed “Assassin” but not as you may guess due to any goal-poaching prowess. Butler’s nickname was actually because of his habit of swallowing several different coloured pills before a game.

Dick Evans

However, here is a player who was nicknamed after his shooting. Smallthorne-born Dick was nicknamed “Jammer” by Vale fans due to his deadly accurate shooting. He was a huge fans’ favourite in the 1890’s (so we’re told, we’re not that old!)

Colin Grainger (right)

Now Colin’s nickname was much more straightforward. He was called Colin “the singing winger” Grainger because he had a good voice and had launched a second career as a crooner. When he retired from playing he became a professional singer (we’d like to think his nickname thus changed to Colin “the footballing singer” Grainger but sadly, it didn’t).

Ezra Horton

Ezra, no relation to Brian, played for the Valiants in 1884 and went by the nickname of “Ironsides”. As this predated the “Ironside” TV programme by some eighty years, we can only presume Ezra’s nickname was a tribute to his toughness and strength.

WE Powell

W.E (sadly we don’t know his first name) earned one of the most unfortunate nicknames we could find. W.E. suffered a horrific injury in 1888 when he dislocated his knee in a game against Crewe. The injury was so severe that a doctor had to come onto the field to help set it before he was carried off. He was subsequently known, very cruelly as “Pull it” Powell.

Reg Potts (right)

One of the more simple nicknames and one to close our feature with. Reg was called “Dan” by his teammates in the 1950’s due to his resemblance to cartoon star Desperate Dan.


With this feature moving into the “cult” area with our look at Vale nicknames, here’s a quick quiz about Port Vale cult figures…

1futcher-ron. In what year was cult striker Ron Futcher (right) born?

a. 1956
b. 1958
c. 1960

2. From what side did Port Vale sign Bob Hazell?

a. QPR
b. Wolves
c. Reading

3. Colin Tartt marked his final appearance with a goal from the half-way line against?

a. Chesterfield
b. Scunthorpe Utd
c. Rochdale

It was another gloomy Saturday for Nathan Smith as his Torquay United side lost their fourth straight match. The only silver lining for Smith was that he got another 90 minutes under his bet as Torquay lost 2-0 to Aldershot.

We can’t confirm for sure, but it looks like Jonny Kapend started on the bench as Stafford Ranger beat Tividale in the FA Cup.


Jak Alnwick was a runaway winner of the Millwall

  • Jak Alnwick 60%
  • Richard Duffy 12%
  • Louis Dodds 8%

So overall, the leaderboard looks like this:

  • Grant 4 (Swindon, Gillingham, West Brom, Wigan)
  • Dodds 1 (Doncaster)
  • Purkiss 1 (Crewe)
  • Andoh 1 (Burnley)
  • Dickinson 1 (Bradford)
  • Dodds 1 (Carlisle)
  • Alnwick 1 (Millwall)

Quote of the week

Sheff Wed supporting striker Louis Dodds was hoping to get one over his Sheff Utd supporting relatives:

“I get texts all the time from them so I’m looking to send out a few texts of my own on Saturday…”

Tweet of the week

The FSF campaign against unreasonable ticket prices is a worthy one and this sums it up.

Epic fail

Epic Fail Ratings

Time at club: Two years

Highpoint: Man of the match against Shrewsbury

Lowpoint: His assertion that he was the “best player at the club”

Edwards had a poor start (and it could be argued “middle” and “finish”) to his Vale career…

The “crop of 2007” have and will feature heavily in this section. Paul Edwards was a prominent member of that clutch of signings made by Martin Foyle in the summer of the 2007-8 season. Foyle only lasted till November yet Edwards somehow hung around until 2009.

Edwards had a poor start (and it could be argued “middle” and “finish”) to his Vale career but his reaction to being transfer-listed was to tell the Sentinel that he was the side’s “best player” – hardly sentiments to endear yourself to your teammates. Sadly, there was little evidence on the pitch to back up Edwards’ claim.

He was in and out of the side but was still baffling awarded a new contract by manager Dean Glover. The offer was swiftly withdrawn when Micky Adams took over and Edwards left, joining Barrow later that summer.

One hit wonder

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

One Hit Wonder

Name: Jimmy Adams

Sole Appearance: 26th April, 1958

A number of players in this section only made a solitary appearance because of a brief spell with the Valiants. Adams is very much an exception to that rule.

The locally-born full-back spent four years in the Vale first-team squad but in all that time, he managed just the solitary senior appearance.

His moment of glory was an away clash at Brentford with Vale unfortunately losing 4-1. He was released in 1960 and later went on to play for Crewe Alexandra.

Quiz of the week answers:

  1. a
  2. c
  3. b



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