Here’s another memoir from long-serving Port Vale supporter Stuart Dean – this time recalling appalling weather conditions following a trip to Chesterfield…
The following notes concern Vale’s away game against Chesterfield in January 1961.
The smog was so thick that you couldn’t see the lamp. No traffic was about – the thickness of the fog making driving impossible….
Well, I remember this game for all the wrong reasons. It was my first away match without the supervision of my father. I caught the PMT bus from Bignall End and got off at Etruria station to catch the train. I think it was a football special but if it wasn’t I would have had to change at Derby.
The game was a boring 0-0 draw, visibility moderate at best and the Vale never looked like scoring. Neither did Chesterfield at that.
The real excitement started once I got off the train at Etruria. The fog was so thick that you could hardly see your feet. Getting off the station was a real challenge and at one stage I found myself on the line -a very frightening experience. Eventually having found the steps out of the station I managed to find the lamp post upon which the bus stop was located. The smog was so thick that you couldn’t see the lamp. No traffic was about – the thickness of the fog making driving impossible.
There were two other Vale fans at the bus stop debating what to do. They were from the Milehouse area and I joined them as they followed the kerb, counting off streets trying to locate Sandy Lane. We then followed our noses until we hit Liverpool Road. At the Milehouse they kindly offered me a bed for the night. I declined this because I knew how worried my parents would be and I was now on fairly familiar territory. So on through Chesterton, the visibility still the same, past the brick works and on to Audley Road via Castle Street.
At the top of Bignall Hill I walked out of the Potteries bowl and the fog. What a transformation! A clear sky covered in stars (no street lighting up there in 1961) and the lights of the Cheshire plain visible into the far distance. I quickly descended to Bignall End where I met a worried father waiting on the main road.
When I got in the house he sent me to look in the mirror. I looked as though i had just finished a shift down the pit. I was as black as the ace of spades. That was the worst fog I’ve ever been in. Thankfully the pot banks were starting to move away from coal furnaces to electric and such smogs became a thing of the past.
This game ended in a 0-0 draw and some shots of the matchday programme are below: