Kitman confessions: Billy Paynter’s Xmas gift…

Long-serving Port Vale kitman Stan “Stan the man” Nicholls has passed some more of his anecdotes onto OVF. In this episode – a Christmas gift from a Vale striker, Bernie Slaven’s addiction, a rare mistake, another Peter Swan jape and a lock-in at the hotel…

Stan Nicholls writes…


About the author

Stanley “Stan the man” Nicholls was a long-serving Port Vale kitman and his blog is exclusively on OVF.

Ian Armstong, Dave Brammer and Billy Paynter were just three of the Scouse players who turned out for Vale and that particular trio were laugh a minute. Young Billy Paynter always came up to me at Christmas time and he’d say “these are for you and have a good Christmas!” It was always a six pack of Guinness, which was my favourite tipple. They were good guys, really.


I made one kit mistake in all my years at the Vale. We got to Oldham for a night match and had put out all the kit as normal when found I had forgotten Paul Musselwhite’s jersey. I had to go to the home team, borrow one of theirs and cover the name with tape on the back.


Just a word about Bernie Slaven, I never saw him ever take a drink of alcohol but he loved chocolate. He use to get on the bus for away trips with his travel bag full of chocolat and he give me many a Mars bar and Kit Kat.


I got a bucket of water tipped over me once. Houchen and Swanny (Peter Swan) were rooming together. I was outside and they were on the second floor and were talking to me through an open window. Houchen shouted down that he dropped some money and asked me to look for it. You can guess the rest… I bent down to look for the money and that’s when I got the bucketful. I was soaked!


We were playing away on the Saturday, but we went down south on Friday. We all arrived at the hotel about 3pm and we booked in and were allocated our rooms.

The gaffer (John Rudge) said we could all go to your rooms and shower and get cleaned up, but he stressed that we all had to be down for dinner at 7 o’clock prompt. Anyone late would have a heavy fine.

This hotel was an oldie-world type and there was big heavy furniture – sideboards and dark oak cupboards in the corridors.

Anyway, I had my shower and decided to made my way down around ten to seven. But when I tried to open the door, I found I have been blocked in with one of the sideboards. I was stuck!

I managed to call Jim Joyce and Billy Deardon and they came and let me out. I still have no idea, to this day, who was to blame…

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