In this second episode, we reveal how Vale came close to completing what could have been one of the club’s highest-profile signings of all-time.
Nearly men number two: Tom Finney
This is a series of articles about players who could have been Port Vale stars but who ultimately never made the move to Vale Park.
1961 was a tough time for Port Vale. The Iron Curtain era was now a distant memory and the club was preparing for a third consecutive season in the Third Division.
So, the news that neighbours Stoke City had pulled off the coup of tempting Stanley Matthews back to the Victoria Ground. The news had a profound effect on the Potters as attendances trebled following the return of “The Wizard of the Dribble.”
The “Preston plumber” 38 year-old Tom Finney had just retired after an astonishing 14 year spell at Preston North End. Vale manager Norman Low, keen for a big name signing to rival that of Matthews, attempted to lure Finney out of retirement but failed.
The move never happened and Vale had to watch on enviously as Stoke’s Matthews’ revival saw them promoted to the First Division at the end of the 1962-1963 season.